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Apaneca Aventura's tour operator instructed us several hours ago on how to drive the dune buggies, "Keep your left foot on the brake and your right foot on the gas at all times, don't switch back and forth." I was a little worried about this because it's a strange driving method and would probably be difficult to remember. However, no sooner am I behind the wheel and moving than I quickly realize these controls work exactly like the L1 and R1 buttons on a Playstation 3 joystick. "Oh hell yeah, I know this game!," I holler to Jerri, the woman in the passenger seat beside me, as we tear through a mountain pass, kicking volcanic dust everywhere while giant tropical trees scream by overhead, "It's called 'Motorstorm: Pacific Rift'! My brother-in-law and I play it at my place on weekends after we've been out late drinking!" She furrows her her brow in worry beneath her helmet as I skid the buggy sideways to make an especially tight turn in the road. Now this is sweet! Honestly Jerri has nothing to concern herself with because I'm probably better at this insanity than I am at regular highway navigation.
We zoom by local women and young girls, walking barefoot up and down the steep hillside. I wonder where they're going? It doesn't seem like there's anything close by; the town of Apeneca is several kilometres away now. I can't imagine walking this rocky path with no shoes on. As we pass them I slow down and give the pedestrians a wide berth so they're not completely covered in our cloudy wake of dust and blue exhaust smoke. The locals must think we're idiots and I'll admit it, this is probably one of the most un-ecofriendly and completely obnoxious tourist activities I've ever participated in, but it's totally exhilarating... I would have gotten behind the wheel sooner had I known, but I let Jerri do the first two legs of this excursion's driving convinced that there was no way my long legs would ever fit behind the wheel. Actually, they fit just fine.
Our first stop was at a lookout place on the top of a mountain where across the dramatic vista we could see all the way to both neighbouring countries of Guatemala and Honduras. Our second stop was for a juice and cookies break at Laguna Verde (Green Lagoon), a fresh water lake inside the crater of an extinct volcano. The trees and foliage at this higher and cooler altitude look a lot like they do in Canada.
Driving through the old cobblestone streets of Apeneca, I struggle to keep my eyes on the road and not admire its colourful colonial buildings, whitewashed church, and street vendors selling exotic fruit. We arrive back at the Apeneca Aventura headquarters and climb out of the buggies, everyone laughing like kids at the thick layer of grey dusty grime covering our skin and clothes. We're led by one of our tour guides to a large sink, given soap, clean towels, and told when we've finished cleaning up there's fresh locally grown coffee waiting for us. Superb trip and tasty brew!
See my "Decameron Explorer - Buggies & Cascades" video.
Updated May 18, 2012
Address: Faldas del Cerrito y C. Los platanares No. 2, Apan
The village of Apaneca is a charming town of cobblestone streets, old colonial houses with the background of the coffee plantations. Walk the streets and enjoy the fresh air.
Written Sep 10, 2002
The coffee plantations in this area are a wonderful criss cross of trees acting as windbreakers to protect the coffee trees. Inoctober when in bloom they become all white and very fragrant. All along the road and everywhere you look there will be a green checkered mountain.
Written Feb 25, 2003
The Green Laggon or laguna verde in Apaneca is the crater of an extict volcano. It's a short hike away from the town and an excellent place for birdwatching, observing nature and the countless orchids growing wild in the trees.
Written Feb 25, 2003
Old colonial house, with courtyards and gardens turned into a nice cozy restaurant. Try all the local specialities, good home cooking. Very quiet during the week and busy with locals on weekends.
Written Sep 19, 2002
If your lucky, Apaneca is one of the few places in the country where you can still find indigenous people, This group was singing in the Language of the Puipl
Updated Dec 8, 2004