Volcanoes from Costa Rica to Guatemala
Do you know the way to San José? … Up to Poás … Irazú … In the jungle … Crazy exploding volcanoes … Onwards and upwards … Around the mountain … Into Nicaragua … Ometepe … Concepción … Raindrops keep falling on my head … Granada … Returning to Masaya … Through the volcanoes … Silent cyclists and snakes … Border nightmare … Across Honduras … Copán … Bad driving … Antigua … Pacaya climb … Down to the lake … Quite high … Evil saints … Highlands … Very high … Best sunrise ever seen … Market madness … Towering temples at Tikal … The end of everything
We had an inauspicious start to the trip. I'd arranged to meet Moh, who I would be travelling with, outside Smith's on Victoria station, but unfortunately there are two Smith's on Victoria station and we spent ages waiting for each other. Then we somehow managed to miss two Gatwick trains, for which there was no excuse. We made it to Gatwick in time for the flight, though, and had an untraumatic journey across the Atlantic and down the East coast of North America. Weather delayed us landing in Houston, but with just a little bit of panic and fast running, we made it onto the flight from there to San José, Costa Rica.
I was a bit nervous as we flew south. Far below I could see towns in what must have been Mexico lighting up as darkness fell, and I could hardly begin to imagine what travelling in Central America might be like. My efforts at learning Spanish had not got beyond the appallingly basic, I didn't really know if we'd got enough money with us, and I had no idea if the place would be crawling with tourists or if we wouldn't see another foreigner for the next six weeks.
But thankfully, I'd booked our first night's accommodation. This was the only thing I was not worrying about as we landed in San Jose at a quarter past eight on September 14th. However, there was soon another item on the 'To Worry About' list - Moh's baggage did not appear. On enquiry it turned out it had been sent to San José, California, but they said they'd have it by the next day.
So we gathered what belongings we had and walked out of the airport. The air outside felt like it had just been let out of an oven, and a scrum of taxi drivers fell upon us as soon as we appeared. We waved them aside, though, because José, whose B&B we were going to stay at, was standing there holding a sign which said 'Welcome to Costa Rica, Roger'.
We got to José's, in a town called Alajuela, at about 10pm, and met Warren, an American from Nevada. But we had been up for nearly 24 hours and were in no mood for small talk, so we made our excuses and slept.