This blog is posted mostly everyday when we take a break from our usual retired Life as former full-time RVer's and travel overseas.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Volcanos and Chocolate–Friday 27 April 2018

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There was an optional tour this morning to climb Pacaya Volcano. It was cancelled because only four people on the tour wanted to go and the minimum was six, so Richard arranged a private climb for those that wanted to go. You can see how excited we four, Pat, Linda, myself and Tom were before we set out on the upward climb.

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With our guide, Marvin, in the lead, off we went. As we climbed I observed that older groups had an older guide and younger groups had younger guides. Marvin set a good pace at first, but eventually he was seriously sweating and we seemed to have more frequent rest stops. We never did decide if he felt sorry for the mountain goatless that is my spouse, or he was doing it for himself as well.

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Ten minutes unto the 3.4 KM climb and the strain is already showing on this athletic young woman’s face. I hadn’t heard a “Are almost to the there yet?”, but let’s just say that the rest stops were becoming more frequent. We had begun the climb at 6,000 feet and would climb to the 8,000 foot level.

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Not our volcano, there are two of them in the photo, one to the far left is belching. It’s the one I have posted photos of in the past few days.

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This leaf has a soft absorbent underside. It is good as toilet paper and for wiping the sweat off your face. To the best of my knowledge Linda did not use it for the former prior to using for the latter. Bad Bob.

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Doesn’t matter what age you are, when you feel and act young you can do it. This was as high as climbers were allowed to go today, but it afforded a good view of the cone above and the lava field below.

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Why were not allow to climb any further today, the volcano was erupting. There was also a constant low rumble, so we were treated to both the sights and sounds of the eruption. We do have videos, but as with our other videos, I won't post them until we return to states. There are only so many hours in the day.


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The climb up took an hour and 40 minutes. Coming back down took 57 minutes and 53 seconds.

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It’s could have taken even longer to descend, but Linda was diligent in keeping her equipment in top condition. And she absolutely loves her carbon fiber walking stick. Walking sticks are something that saving money isn’t always the best route to go.

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Our happy group back where we started the climb. After that experience we are all smiles. Once again Richard earns extra points for going above and beyond and giving us the opportunity to do something special.

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Today’s chicken bus photo.

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In the evening the group was treated to a trip to a family chocolate making operation. Dog photo: Boxer staring at a cacao fruit that is just out of reach.

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To make chocolate, cacao beans are removed from the fruit, dried and bagged. The bags weigh one hundred pounds and that is what the family buys to make their chocolate. The first step in the process is to roast the beans on a sheet of metal over a wooden fire. After cooling the shells are removed. Above photo shows foreign tourists shelling beans, or at least attempting to shell beans.

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The next step in the operation is to grind the roasted, shelled beans into a paste. Here we see a a young woman being taught the proper technique to mill the beans under the watchful eye of the master chocolatier. Personally, I thought she did an awesome job, though some may accuse me of being prejudiced in my judgement. Sweet Bob.

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No sooner do I wax poetic about my beloved’s chocolate  making prowess than what you see occurs. The master chocolatier gave us a pre weighed block of chocolate and showed us how, with just the motion on one hand to turn it to the form and consistency like the center piece. Linda’s disastrous attempt is on the left. The center piece is actually mine, and was judged to be nearly perfect. In the end Linda didn’t care how good she was at making chocolate as long as she got to have some. This was the type of chocolate they use to make hot chocolate, a mug of which we all got to enjoy.

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Besides hot chocolate, there as “small” meal of local Guatemalan appetizer typeof foods. It doesn’t look like it when I took this photo, buy this female volcano climber had worked up a full plate appetite.

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My plate, hers was very similar. When I started back for another tortilla with guacamole and salsa, the volcano climberette told me to also make one for her. That woman loves guacamole.

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This not a Linda flower photo, it is Bob flower photo, and about time. What ever this is, it was growing in a number of colors. Non-botanist Bob.

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Torrential rain storm. And I do mean torrential.

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Richard said to wait a while and it will stop. Then he said it will stop in ten minutes. He wasn’t a minute off in his prediction. Just another reason why he is the best of the best, or another lucky guess on his part. GOK.

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I had left out our shopping trip to the neighborhood artisanal market. It was off the tourist path and the price reflected that. Bargains can be had even in the city if you ask the tour guide the right question. We got a good deal, the young woman in the stall made a fair profit and no one was happier than me. Just call me Chicken Bus Bob.

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