Christmas 2005/New Year 2006
'A Ride on the Wild Side'
KE Adventure cycling holiday (Guides: Matt., Cisco & Wilbur
of Bike Guatemala aka Old Town Outfitters.)
Day 1: London to Guatemala (Wednesday 14th December)
Day 2: The group flight departs from the UK in the morning and arrives
in Guatemala City in the evening. Transfer to the group hotel in nearby
Antigua (Thursday 15th December).
Breakfast with the first coffees of the day enjoying the outdoors of
the courtyard watching the staff of the hotel chatting, laughing and
watering the plants. The people we have seen so far seem happy and smiling,
with their small stature and round brown faces. The streets of Antigua
are cobbled and the buildings all single story and colonial in style.
Lots of coffee bars, restaurants and gift shops, even McDonalds, disguised
in an authentic building. Walking round the town looking at the people,
children begging, boys offering to shine our shoes, women with their goods
on their heads in brightly coloured clothes. Also lots of Westerners
probably studying in one of over 70 language schools. Admiring the sight
of three volcanoes that surround the town. One volcano Fuego had a
plume of smoke rising into the blue sky. It feels like we have landed in
paradise particularly the warmth and brightness putting on sunglasses
after the dullness of a British winter. Chatting over more coffee and a
huge slab of cake at Cafι Condesa about holiday dreams and life aspirations.
We walked around the market and looked at a monastery. This used to be the
capital of Guatemala until an earthquake in 1773 caused the Spanish to
relocate to Guatemala City. The original capital was left in its ruined
state to be rediscovered and restored in the next century. It reminds
me of Cusco in Peru but it has more style and a more relaxed atmosphere
somehow with its courtyard fountains, good coffee and laughing people.
Back to the hotel to rest sightseeing is tiring and we woke up early,
still on UK time.
Out for a pre-dinner beer in a deserted Rikkys bar and then dinner in
the deserted El Punto restaurant but had the most delicious Italian meal.
Arco De Santa Catalina (1694) used by nuns to cross street -Antigua
San Simon, skeleton etc in craft market co-op. - Antigua
Masks and trinkets - indoor craft market co-op. - Antigua
Carrie on Monastery Roof with Volcanoes Fuego (3766m) and Acatenango (3976m) L-R,
in background - Antigua
Market stall selling dye etc. - Antigua
Market stall selling fruit- Antigua
Buses and stalls at the market - Antigua
Old rusty bike - Side of Cathedral - Antigua
Cathedral - Parque Central - Antigua
Fountain & trees - Parque Central - Antigua
Day 3: Free morning, reassemble bikes. After lunch, short cycle ride
around the valley of Antigua. Hotel (Friday 16th December)
Met the group over breakfast Mark from Reading, Sharon from Edinburgh,
Isabelle from Belgium. One more person to join our trip Matt from the US.
Unfortunately he made the easy mistake of flying to the island of Antigua and
is now stranded in Miami waiting for a flight. He wont be able to get to us
until Sunday. Once he arrives we will be 3 girls and 3 boys we are the only
couple. Marks bike got lost by the airline. Sharon and Isabelle were prevented
from taking their bikes by their airlines. So Gary and I were the only ones with
our bikes today. Off for a first ride this morning very dusty and steep.
I felt much happier going up hill than the technical descents but good fun for Gary.
Back for lunch in town and then out for another ride around a few villages outside the
town. Cycling past women with bags and bundles on their heads, through fields and
down dusty streets. More steep climbing but some easier single track coming down so
I dont feel quite so depressed about my riding. Isabelle is struggling with both the
ascents and descents so I am far from last. We were occupied pretty much all day
but only rode 31km so an easy start to the trip. Gary managed to rip his tyre riding
up some steps and to go over the handlebars in a field of maize.
Early street scene & Volcano Acatenango - Antigua
Early morning Antigua with volcano Acatenango in the background.
Brief rest for Isabelle, Matt, Mark, Sharon and Carrie above Antigua.
Carrie and Sharon tackle one of the many dusty climbs - Antigua.
Mark starting a dusty and loose descent - Antigua.
Mark descending steep off-camber narrow single track - Antigua.
Day 4. Bike out to the village of Santa Maria de Jesus. Singletrack
biking on the slopes of Volcan Agua and return to Antigua. Hotel (Saturday 17th December).
Started at nine this morning riding up towards and around Agua - the
main volcano that dominates the town. A steep climb up a concrete
road and then along dusty single track between fields of corn, coffee
and beans. We met farmers and small boys along the way with dogs,
horses and donkeys carrying heavy loads. The riding was a bit easier
than yesterday at least there was no steep drop off the path.
The tracks were loose with rutted and rooted and rocky sections but
I felt I could ride most of it (albeit slowly) with some scooting
to get past the harder bits. We spent a lot of time waiting for Isabelle
who was very slow. Cycling time was only two hours and only 23 km
distance but 700m of ascent. We were back in Antigua at 1pm so time
for another big lunch. This afternoon Gary and the girls went to Santa Dominga. This
was once the largest monastery in Antigua. It is now a 5 star hotel
with the remains of the monastery in its grounds. Also a museum with
Mayan artefacts tastefully displayed alongside contemporary art pieces showing
the similarity of art through the ages.
Day 5. Transfer to the Panchoy Valley and the Western Highlands. Bike
from Ixmiche to Lake Atitlan (1562m). Boat across to Casa del Mundo. Hotel
(Sunday 18th December)
We were ready for 8am this morning with the bikes on the roof for a
transfer towards our destination of Lake Atitlan. We started the ride
at Iximche following a wander round the ruins. We cycled 50km today
with almost 1000m of ascent with the sun beating down on us as we slogged
up hill and in my case cycled nervously down loose dusty tracks. The
view of the lake came as a wonderful surprise and provided a great backdrop
for our picnic lunch. The lake is 8km across from north to south and
18 km from east to west and an average of 300m deep. It is a gigantic
volcanic crater, surrounded by smaller volcanoes. Our ride after lunch
took us down some tricky single track including a flight of steps down
to the village of Panajachel. Here our bikes and bags came in one boat
and us all in another, along the coast to our hotel La Casa del Mundo.
This is one of the most wonderful hotels I have ever seen each room
with a great view of the lake only accessible by boat. We watched
the sunset from our balcony with a three course meal at 6.30pm. Just
after the soup course a motor boat delivered our fifth and final member
of the group Matt from New York. Unfortunately his bike is somewhere
in transit so along with Mark is still hoping for his bike to arrive.
An early night feeling exhausted by the heat and our exertions.
Iximche, Mayan ruins at the start of the ride.
Getting lost - Heading for Lake Atitlan.
Day 6. Boat to San Marco la Laguna. Then a mix of trails around the
lake to the colourful town of Santiago. Hotel. (Monday 19th December)
Great waking up in our room to see the sun on the lake and its volcanoes.
After breakfast we loaded the bikes onto the boat to take us to the start of
the days ride. Relaxed start to the day with an interesting stop for water
and bananas in San Pedro. We sat with our bikes and watched the people pass
by about their business. Women with their daughters all dressed similarly
in woven skirts and matching frilly blouses. The Spanish originally introduced
the different colours in order to distinguish between the people from different
villages. We saw just one man wearing embroidered half mast trousers now
apparently an unusual sight. On our way again and up a very steep dirt road
for around 6km dodging heavy vehicles and rubbish along the way. On our way
down we met some locals who warned us to hide our valuables as there could be robbers
ahead. Gary kept with me from then on and Sharon gave her valuables to Mark to
carry in his camel back. As we rounded a bend and as I was chatting to Sharon
two men wearing balaclavas and carrying large black guns ran out in front of us.
Gary shouted go go go and he and I managed to cycle past the man nearest to us.
However unfortunately the other man stopped Sharon and took her glasses and watch.
She had nothing else and not believing her one of the men searched her underwear.
We were frantic with worry that she was still with them and relieved when she
cycled back down the hill to join us. She was very upset and shaken. We cycled
down to the village all feeling shocked and with the pleasure knocked out of the day.
We had a sombre lunch before catching the boat back to the hotel across a very
choppy lake adding cold and wet to our mood. The evening saw a distinct improvement
with a glass of wine to watch the sunset and then a soak in the hot tub after supper
beneath a starry sky.
Day 7. Morning drive to the Cuchumatanes Mountains. Overnight in Huehuetenango.
Hotel (Tuesday 20th December).
Gary had a restless night replaying the incident of yesterday in his head and Sharon
was still upset and hadn't managed to sleep. We caught a boat to Pan. where
we wandered around looking at the tourist shops and for some chocolate for Sharon.
Then into the bus for the drive to Hueh. This is a busy town with not much
to offer tourists but it could still manage a coffee shop and internet cafe.
Sunrise at 06:00, Lake Atitlan.
Sunrise at 06:00, Lake Atitlan.
Traditional local tunic, Lake Atitlan.
Vibrant coloured fabric for sale on the Panajachel market.
Balaclavas must sell very well to the local bandits - the black mask gave us a fright.
Man in traditional dress - Panajachel.
Ladies in traditional dress - Panajachel.
Day 8. Leaving Huehuetenango, a 1000 metre climb leads to a high plateau.
Then a long and fast descent to Todos Santos (2450m.). Lodge (Wednesday 21st December).
This morning felt colder without the sunshine we have already started to take for
granted. We cycled out of town on the main road breathing in the fumes from
noisy trucks belchng past. We continued up for over 10km into the cloud and
lunch. By now it was really cold and even starting to rain. The afternoon's
ride was along muddy and slippery single track through bleak looking villages with
packs of angry dogs. We kept a few stones handy in case we needed to
scare away the dogs. Children came to stare at us wearing traditional clothing
and playing marimba music. We cycled into Todos Santos damp and muddy.
It felt very strange - as if we had ended up at the far end of the earth.
A place where men wear red striped trousers and straw hats and everyone is staring
at us. We arrived at the lodge (Casa Familiar) and queued up for the one shower.
The rooms are very basic with thin hardboard walls and two single beds with damp
sheets. During supper a dog came in and weed in the corner - Matt told one
of the women and she shrugged - yes, he does that... We retreated early to our room after supper feeling cold and damp. We all
placed bets to predict what time Matt's bike might arrive tonight!
Day 9. Morning in Todos Santos. Afternoon ride across to the north
side of the Todos Santos Valley, to the village of Conception. Blue
Unicorn Lodge (Thursday 22nd December).
Matt's bike arrived just before breakfast and all in one piece - so Sharon won the
bet. Breakfast of banana pancakes
in the squalid courtyard - but enjoyable in the sunshine. We set off back up the
cobbled street of the town and then another long long uphill for 10km. Once again seeing
people along the way - a woman weaving and the men in their traditional dress, a child carrying a large
hen on her head.
Lunch was on a bleak flat plain and we relaxed on a car seat out of the van.
After lunch we cycled across the plain - satisfying sweeping single track across dry
hard packed earth with a few rocks and cacti along the verges.
This is a desert in the summer and so water is scarce. We saw villagers with
plastic containers full of water that had been transported by truck from the nearest
lake. People are clearly so poor here - washing clothes outside by hand, working
the land and tending the sheep. There is lots of rubbish lying around and
the children look dirty but with appealing smiles. We are staying the next
two nights at the Blue Unicorn - a horse riding ranch owned by a French woman
and her Guatemalan husband. As with the hotel at Lake Atitlan it was built
in 1997 and similarly is beaufully built displaying the work of local artists.
However it is cold - although unlike last night there is a wood burning stove in
the lounge/dining area. So we are now enjoying some warmth and good wine before
Matt's bike finally arrives for breakfast - still in one piece -
Sharon with clean bike outside the Casa Familiar, Todos Santos.
Top of 10km climb above Todos Santos.
Top of 10km climb above Todos Santos. Not sure what Sharon (in yellow) is up to.
Descending into the mist.
Lunch stop on the plain - fantastic picnic prepared by 'Cisco and Wilbur.
More trails - hay stacks to the right.
Day 10. A free day at the Blue Unicorn Lodge. Biking and horse-riding
options. Lodge (Friday 23rd December).
This was our rest day so a relaxed start to the day and plenty of time
to finish my book. This morning we cycled in the sunshine for only 7km with
lots of time to stop looking for the right way and for Matt to fall off his
new bike unable to get his foot out of his cleat. Back for lunch and then
an afternoon ride a little longer this time reaching 16km again getting
a little lost. We saw two dead drunk men lying in the path. Women looking
after flocks of sheep and doing the washing outdoors. Matt stopped and chatted
in Spanish to a man wearing a cowboy hat and carrying a catapult for potting
rabbits. The trails were really
good to ride not as loose as on previous days although with sections of
unridable boulders. This afternoon Gary got to ride Matts new bike a top
of the range full suspension so he could bounce down the boulder fields. On
the way back to the village we heard a typical sound of Guatemala marimba
music and firecrackers.
View down to Huehue., morning ride. Matt. on the phone to the airline to try and
locate Mark's bike - Blue Unicorn.
Morning ride. Isabelle appears over the horizon - Blue Unicorn.
Afternoon ride - Blue Unicorn.
Afternoon ride. Mark has borrowed Isabelle's Kona King Kickapu Full Suspension bike
- Blue Unicorn.
Gary on Matt's S-Works Epic for the afternoon ride - Blue Unicorn.
Afternoon ride - Blue Unicorn.
Mark taking it easy on Isabelle's bike - trying to keep the tyre off the ground
and save the tyres - afternoon ride - Blue Unicorn.
Gary helping Matt to break his brakes in - afternoon ride - Blue Unicorn.
Day 11. A long ride across country to reach the Ixil village of Nebaj,
which nestles in a wooded valley, surounded by high peaks. Turansa Lodge (Saturday 24th December).
Today was one of our longest so far at 60km and also with the most beautiful scenery
as we left the dry plains and rode into green mountains. We compared it to the Lake
District with limestone outcrops, streams and green hills. The cycling started out
fairly flat with some gentle ups and downs with some long climbs as the day progressed.
Unfortunately it continues to be hard for Isabelle to be always at the back. This was also
one of the few days without the option of the bus as it couldnt follow us along the trails.
Our two Guatemalans Francisco and Wilbur take it in turns to cycle or drive the bus. Their
job usually to cycle at the back which they seem to find very hard. Both young men are
in their twenties and are non drinking evangelical Christians of which there are a lot
in the country. This followed a full scale mission following the earthquake in 1976 as
North American Christians thought this a sign of the end of the world and felt it their
duty to evangelise. We had lunch packed into our pockets and stopped along the way enjoying
the views and the sunshine. Some of the ride was technical with a long muddy slog downhill.
We cycled through villages seeing a new type of embroidered skirt and top for the women.
I saw one young girl talking into a mobile phone but mainly the people seem so poor and
also fascinated by us. Most villages have piglets and skinny barking dogs, chickens and
today a couple of lambs. It feels great to be cycling through villages it would be very
difficult to visit independently. Our destination today was Nebaj our first proper town
for a few days with lots of people, animals, noise and Bancock style mini taxis. At last
Mark has his bike collected today by Francisco in the van. We started the evening
with rum and coke - not a good idea on an empty stomach and then into town for dinner.
The streets were full of people letting off fireworks. We bought more rum and even some
fireworks. After dinner we set them off - sending Matt's dog into such a frenzy of excitement
that she bit both Matt and Mark. The firecracker technique is to hold it in your hand, light it
and wait for it to start to make a noise. I seemed to throw mine very close to a passerby.
We were woken up at midnight when the whole town seemed to explode in a mass of fireworks.
Start of hte ride across from the Blue Unicorn down to Nebaj.
Valley settlement - Blue Unicorn to Nebaj.
Long descent - Blue Unicorn to Nebaj.
This area felt reminiscent of the Lake District - Blue Unicorn to Nebaj.
Gary & Carrie with the continued descent towards Nebaj - Blue
Unicorn to Nebaj.
Lunch stop before rolling down to Nebaj.
Mark's bike finally arrives at the Turansa Lodge, Nebaj.
Mark assembling his bike at the Turansa Lodge, Nebaj.
Day 12. A steep climb out of Nebaj, then down to Uspantan. Hotel Casablanca (Sunday 25th December).
We awoke to find a Christmas stocking each on our door full of sweets. I regretted the rum from the night
before and felt very rough all day. The day's ride began with another long climb out of the valley, lots of
buses passed us full of people out visiting for Christmas. Shouts of 'gringo' and the usual stares. Matt
decided to take an untried route down the hill and it proved to be steep and loose. Unfortunately Isabelle
fell off and has seriously hurt her hand - possibly
a small broken bone. She will need to catch a bus tomorrow to see a doctor. Mark enjoyed his own bike at
last until he went over his handlebars ind broke
his helmet. The rest of us carried on to the
hotel - 45km in total with 1400m of ascent. The hotel is very basic - resembling a multi storey car
park with a bare concrete ceiling and a single flickering light bulb.
for the ceiling. We had plates piled high with chicken, pasta and vegetables for dinner, wearing Christmas cracker hats
thanks to Sharon. Followed by 'secret Santa' - we had each bought a cheap gift and now was the time to make a
selection. Isabelle, Gary, Sharon and myself had cheated and knew what we wanted. Matt chose a plastic ship/pen
holder from Wilbur which amused us and which he donated to the hotel.
Start of singletrack descent - Nebaj to Uspantan.
Drying corn - Nebaj to Uspantan.
Mark on very steep singletrack descent - Nebaj to Uspantan.
Matt. on singletrack descent below where Isabelle broke her arm! - Nebaj to Uspantan.
Sharon on singletrack descent - Nebaj to Uspantan.
Route in background - Nebaj to Uspantan.
Decorated graves (on November 1st) - Nebaj to Uspantan.
Dappled sky nearing Uspantan - Nebaj to Uspantan.
Deluxe room at Hotel Casablanca, Uspantan. The room included a notice requesting
you not to spit on the wall - delightful Hotel.
Matt, Wilbur, 'Cisco, Matt, Sharon, Mark and Carrie enjoying Christmas Dinner at Hotel Casablanca, Uspantan.
Day 13. Two major passes to cross (the second is the higher) followed
by huge downhills. Overnight in Coban. Hotel - Posada Don Francisco (Monday 26th December).
After a huge breakfast of pancakes and fruit our ride today took us downhill for 30km and then pretty well
up for 30km. Views of wooded steep hillsides and quarries still being worked - the resulting rock being
carried down in overloaded slow trucks. Lunch on a football field with the village children staring at us
and gradually creeping closer and closer. Transfer in the bus for the last 20km of the journey to Coban.
Isabelle has broken her ulna bone in her lower arm and gone to Guatemala City and then home so we will not see her again.
Part of the 30km descent - Carrie fell off on the first bend below - Uspantan to Coban.
Bridge at bottom of the 30km descent - Uspantan to Coban.
Day 14. Our last ride, to the blue waters of "Semuc Champey."
Then transfer to Languin. Hotel (Tuesday 27th December).
Breakfast of fried eggs and tomato with tortillas and then a ride on a proper road which felt very easy
in comparison to all our off road riding. Some fast downhill stretches and views of forested limestone hills.
The road ran out and we continued down hill on a rocky rough road to Semuc Champey. After lunch the final
ride was a gruelling steep climb up to the river. We bathed, beer in hand, in the limestone pools which form a platform above a fast
flowing river. The journey back to our mini bus was by truck - we hung on in the back as we were thrown around
along the rough track. Then to our hotel. Unfortunately they had overbooked and so we have Sharon as a guest
in our room for tonight. Tonight at dinner - we were surrounded by Westerners - as this place is right on the
Ride through coffee plantations outside Coban - Coban to Languin.
View of descent to Languin/Semuc Champey - Coban to Languin.
View whilst on the descent to Languin/Semuc Champey - Coban to Languin.
Coffee drying above Languin - Coban to Languin.
Cattle truck transfer from Semuc Champey over to Languin - Coban to Languin.
Day 15. A day to explore Lanquin, with its cave systems and attractive
river. Drive back to Coban. Hotel (Wednesday 28th December).
This morning we had a look at the local caves. In the past they were used for ceremonials involving fire
and consequently were rather spoilt with black walls. Then we floated down the river sitting in lorry inner
tubes. I nearly floated past our landing stage as Gary gave me a push in the wrong direction into the fast current.
After lunch we all lay in hammocks, read and slept - the most relaxed I have felt in a long time. In the evening
we had a large barbeque - help yourself meal.
El Recreo - Rest Day - Languin.
Chilling out, El Recreo - Rest Day - Languin.
Day 16. An early morning transfer back to Antigua by late afternoon.
Hotel (Thursday 29th December).
6.30am we were all loaded up and back on the steep slow road. Breakfast in Coban and it looked like we were
making good time. That was until we had two breakdowns and in the end had to catch a taxi into Antigua. It was
a long hot day - at least I was able to read in the bus. So now here we are back where we started in our same
hotel room. Sharon, Mark and myself went out for a quick shop and shoe clean in the square before going over to
Matt's. Here we watched Gary's pictures on the laptop over a beer. Then jumped in the back of one of Matt's
trucks for a final dinner at an Argentinian restaurant. A couple more beers in a noisy bar and then we made
Break down Number 1, near Coban - Languin to Antigua.
Break down Number 1, near Coban - Languin to Antigua.
Break down Number 2, near El Ranchero. Gary and Matt pretending to know what they're
doing - Languin to Antigua.
Break down Number 2, near El Ranchero. Jump start from the Police
- Languin to Antigua.
Day 17. A rest day, with the option of singletrack biking on Volcan
Fuego. Hotel (Friday 30th December).
Gary and I were ready and waiting at 4am in the hotel lobby. However our taxi didn't arrive - we ended
up having to phone Michael - lots of phone calls later our taxi finally arrived at 5.20am. This took us at
breakneck speed to the airport - we raced into the terminal only to find we had been dropped off at international
instead of domestic. Another taxi ride before we got there for the flight just as they were boarding - a stressful
start to the day. We landed in Flores 45 minutes later and immediately felt the increase in temperature. A bus
ride to Tikal and then out on a four hour tour of the ruins with a very irritating talkative guide. It was hot, hot
and by this time we were very hungry. The most impressive thing about this place is that the ruins are in the middle
of the jungle. So however touristy it might be it remains surrounded by a wild environmnent that until they began
reclaiming the ruins had over-run the place. Some of the ruins are still unrestored which is helpful in imagining
what this place must have looked like when first discovered. The jungle enclosed walk into the ruins works well as
the most impressive Tower IV isn't seen until the end following the sight of increasingly impressive buildings. We
rested after lunch in our poolside room and then headed out to see the sunset over the ruins. We sat on the top of
the Pyramid with lots of other people and watched a beautiful sunset complete with green parrots flying across
the jungle canopy. It felt appropriate to watch the sun going down on 2005. Dinner at our hotel sitting with a
young American couple and then to bed before the power went off at 10pm.
Offerings to San Simon - San Simon Shrine - Outside Antigua.
Inside the San Simon shrine - Outside Antigua.
San Simon shrine - Outside Antigua.
Offerings to San Simon: Cigars - Outside Antigua.
Offerings to San Simon: eggs and candles - outside Antigua.
Shrine to San Simon - Antigua.
Carrie on return from San Simon - Around Antigua.
Mark, 'Cisco and Matt in the Bagel Barn post ride - Antigua.
Carrie, Gary & Sharon in the Bagel Barn post ride - Antigua.
Sharon & Matt carry Matt's bike back to the Hotel Palicio Chico - Around Antigua.
Carrie & Mark Carry his 'Orange' back to the Hotel - Around Antigua.
The 'last supper' Matt, Matt (back L-R) Sharon, Mark, Gary & Carrie (Front L-R)
- Argentinian Steak House - Antigua.
Day 18. Transfer to the airport. Depart for Flores and Tikal. (Saturday 31st December).
We got up at 5am to watch the sun come up on 2006. We walked through the dark jungle listening to
the eery sound of howling monkeys and climbed up to Tower 1V to join the throng. We sat in the dark
and watched it gradually lighten but all we could see was the jungle mist below. Then back to our hotel for
breakfast and back to bed until check out time at 11am. Flight back to Antigua at 4pm and a last dinner
at our favourite Italian restaurant ready for an early flight tomorrow.
Guatemalan Racoon!- Tikal.
Central Plaza - Tikal.
Woodpecker - Tikal.
...more wildlife! - Tikal Inn, Tikal.
Mayan monuments from the Pyramid - Tikal.
Sun setting on 2005 from the Pyramid - Tikal.
Cheesy photo of Gary & Carrie on the Pyramid - Tikal.
Sunrise 2006 in the central plaza - Tikal.
Carrie writing up the web site beside the pool at the Tikal Inn - Tikal.
Toocan watching Carrie at the Tikal Inn - Tikal.
Return to Guatemala city and the volcanoes via TAG airlines - Guatemala Airport.
Day 19. Transfer to the airport. Depart for Guatemala City and Antigua.(Sunday 1st January).
Day 20. Arrive back in the UK and back to W**k(Monday 2nd January).
Data: Distance and Ascent - for anyone interested!