Exploring Guatemala and Dengue Fever in Antigua!

My time in Guatemala has been extended yet again but perhaps not for quite the right reasons; contaminated food, dengue fever and processing time for my visa extension have delayed me several weeks.  Not that I mind being in Antigua, I’m staying in an awesome place called Hotel Casa Luna  whose owner, Mario, has been very accommodating whilst I was so ill with Dengue (scroll to the end for more details on this rather intense experience).  Not far from central park, the rooms are very clean and there’s also a kitchen so I have been able to cook for myself in a far more hygienic manner, thus avoiding the evil amoebas and bacteria that circulate some of the restaurants.

I must admit to having felt frustrated at my lack of forward progress but I managed to squeeze in another week of Spanish whilst recovering. Also before I became ill I headed up to the ruins of Tikal, turquoise pools of Semuc Champey, and climbed a couple more volcanoes with my friend Jo who I met in Quetzaltengango (I’ll be doing a separate post for these volcanoes: Agua and Acatenango). Leaving my bike at Casa Luna in Antigua to make up time, we decided to take the bus (three days travelling and two days at the destinations).  I stared longingly out the window at the awesome terrain but secretly enjoyed being able to do nothing and somehow gain altitude; an unusual sensation after months of tackling similar mountains by bicycle.   Strangely, I felt less safe than I had on my bicycle as the maniac drivers took on the curves at unnecessary speed.


Dengue is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito with an incubation period from 3 to 14 days.  Normally Antigua is too cold for these mosquitoes but there seems to have been a fluctuation in their population with several occurrences of the illness having been recorded recently.  For two days I could barely move with high fever, dizziness, back pain, swollen glands around the groin and virtually zero hunger; on the fourth day I was able to get down to the doctor (Dr Vides, 5th Calle between 6th and 7th avenida on the left as you walk west) and then the laboratory (Casa de Salud Santa Lucia) for my blood test.  Both places I thought were respectable, professional and hygienic (important when you’re having a blood test!) so worth checking out if you are in the same position as me.  Recovery took 10 days in total and I got gradually better each day.  For the tail end of it, my skin became irritated somewhat but was bearable.  I gave myself another week after that since my leukocyte count was so low and for general fatigue.  Having had food poisoning for two weeks just prior to it and having climbed a rather large volcano (Volcán de Agua) the day before I was in a fairly weakened state.

 Here are some of the photos of the trip up north.


Famous Mayan ruins of Tikal, Peten, Northern Guatemala





Taken from the highest temple, you can make out a couple of temples in the background towering over the canopy


El Retiro Lodge, nice spot; a bit quieter than Zephyr famed for it’s drinking games and parties (with a fantastic view over the valley, so I heard)


Semuc Champey: beautiful yet totally lethal, these rapids flow under a limestone bridge for several hundred metres before exiting the other side




On the pick up truck back to Lanquin


Back in Antigua…

2 thoughts on “Exploring Guatemala and Dengue Fever in Antigua!

  1. So sorry to hear you’ve been so sick. Take good care as you gain your strength back. We’re home again, after 7 months cycling asia… seemed way too short and new cycling plans are already brewing. Hard to believe that almost exactly a year ago, we met you in Denali, Alaska.. many miles under all our wheels since then 🙂

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