Tag Archives: volcano
April 14, 2008


We took a bus to Naples in the morning. On the road between Rome and Naples, we passed a 1st century Roman road, Castle Gandolfo (Pope’s retreat), the second largest palace in Europe (after Versailles and in which scenes from Start Wars had been filmed) and a number of rock quarries.
When we got to Naples, it was lightly raining. We could barely see the outline of the island of Capri. We drove around the city and took a few pictures. After that we drove to the city of Pompeii, stopping at a coral and conch art factory which was ridiculously overpriced. One unspectacular looking broach we saw cost 32,000 Euros and even the tiniest and most basic piece cost about 120 Euros. They did demonstrate for us how the art was fashioned from the conch which was interesting to see.
Arriving at Pompeii, we had lunch and then walked around town. By now the clouds had passed and it was a nice sunny day. We walked to the square which has a church around it and saw a bride and groom taking pictures together. Children were playing by the fountain and locals were walking their dogs. I passed 20 parked cars in a row without seeing an automatic transmission. Italians, men and women, all drive stick. Very nice! I like!
We left the modern city of Pompeii and took a short bus ride to the ruins of Pompeii.

Pompeii has been the highlight of the trip so far. It is simply amazing how advanced the inhabitants of this ancient city were both socially, in the development of their civil institutions and technologically. Surprisingly, there is much to see in this ruined city and it is not too difficult to see what life would have been like for these Romans prior to the eruption of Vesuvius. Gymnasiums, Theatres, Bakeries (very impressive!), Bars/Pubs, Public baths and toilets as well as the Courthouse that also served as stock exchange.

The brothels were the most interesting. Pompeii had 25 brothels. The one we visited had 5 rooms with pictures of sex positions posted over the doorways. You paid for the position and “fun time”with a lady of the night ran about what today would be the price of a beer. On the streets, phallic shapes pointed in the direction of the red light district to help drunk Romans get to where they wanted to be.

March 2, 2008

Pacaya / Diego’s Wedding

Today, we are heading back home to D.C. All in all, I’m looking forward to getting home. I will be facing a tough job market but I’m ready. This morning, Colleen and I had a 1 hour massage session together, which was very relaxing.

Yesterday, we mountain biked all over the city for 4 hours. I bought 2 shirts and 2 Mayan masks. Colleen bought a beautiful jade pendant. Later, we went to Manny’s (my pledge brother from Sigma Chi at Purdue) friend Diego’s wedding. It was very similar to what a US wedding would look like with language being the only major differentiating factor. However, it was held in a beautiful setting, in an outside coutyard with well manicured lawns and fountains. A band played virtually the entire time except during lunch and guests from all age groups danced the day away.

The day before yesterday, Colleen and I climbed Volcan Pacaya, an active volcano closer to Guatemala City. The climb lasted about 2 hours, maybe slightly longer for us because Colleen had trouble climbing the the mounds of solidified lava at the top which was very brittle and unstable and had dangerous jagged edges. However, getting within meters of flowing lava and roasting a marshmallow on glowing magma was very cool. I nearly burned my eyebrows off doing it though! That night we had a fantastic dinner at Cafe Flor. We were seated at an intimate candle-lit table for two by the window and enjoyed some first class Thai food while listening to the piano being played 3 tables away. We were the last people to leave the restaurant that night and had a couple of songs played just for us. The piano player/singer then came to our table and we chatted for a bit while I paid the bill. Just a perfect dinner!