This is your captain speaking...
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Our school provides us with daily and weekly activities in or around the community. Some examples of these activities are volunteering at a mayan primary school, visiting a textile market, cooking and dancing classes, and so on. These activities aren’t really mandatory, but are strongly encouraged. The reason is that these activities will provide more insight into the daily life of a Guatemalan, and force us to put the Spanish we’ve learned to practical use. The practical application of today’s activity was to instruct us on the Spanish word for “tired”, “are we there yet”, and several explicatives for amazement, use your imagination for what those are.
Our guide Julio was meant to have taken us on a leisurely hike up a local “mirador” or (overlook) called ‘El Baul’
Now, here’s the thing, Abby and I aren’t in bad shape, but what we didn’t really take into consideration was that a few days prior we had lived at sea level for about 5 weeks. And now here we are, living at an altitude of about 8000 feet. So, our butts were officially kicked when we reached the 10000 foot mark.
Most of the ascent was following a fairly worn path straight up the mountain. This pedestrian path terminated at some old and weathered stone saunas
The trail changed drastically from here. About every hundred feet of rock scrambling, the climb became more technical. And again, at no point was the climb too terribly difficult, the altitude took its toll. However, when we reached the summit and all of Quetzaltenango spread out before us, I realized I would have gladly climbed another 5000 feet for that view. It wasn’t until we got to the top that it truly dawned on me that we had been climbing the result of a volcanic eruption that happened in 1902, which coincided simultaneously with a massive earthquake, both of which left the city in ruins. Every rock that our feet and hands had touched was black and jagged, and a product of unfathomable force. The serenity was only occasionally broken by the chants of a Guatemalan woman hidden amongst the many jagged peaks, solemnly performing her ritual prayers. After about an hour of exploring peaks and crags, Julio produced a large black plastic trash bag and we scavenged the area for trash and plastic bottles that other hikers had thoughtlessly left behind. We scrambled our way back down to the path and slowly ambled our way back to town.
Towards the bottom of our walk home, we stumbled on a scene from Animal Planet. On the side of the path there was a snake (which we haven’t been able to identify) in the process of swallowing a rabbit. After we snapped a picture the snake got nervous and spit the rabbit out and took off for the high grass. I’m sure the snake was pissed that we interrupted it’s lunch, but I’m even more sure the rabbit wished we had shown up earlier.
Nature. Swallowing cities and rabbits for eons.