Volcano!

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sleep late to discover we're not going anywhere today. The second ambulance has broken down.  The power steering pump has gone and it needs and it has been turned in to a local garage to be repaired.  Hopefully this will be done on time to ensure we stay on course.  As a result, Murray has the notion to drive to and hike up Pacaya, one of the areas many active volcanos.  We have also managed to gather a merry band of travelers who would like to come with us, so in the mid afternoon we pack the ambulence with the intrepid bunch and set off.

Of course we get lost.  It’s not an easy drive and we touch into Guatemala city, but spirits are high and adventure calls.  A few doubting Thomas’s are of the opinion that it’s getting too late to trek the volcano.  However we keep the group happy by messing about in the back of the ambulance, and Murray manages to find his way.

It costs us Q50 to climb the volcano.  We’re asked if we want a guide.  After a quick discussion we agree to one, due to the fact that other staff will also watch the ambulance.   We take some pictures for use as "before and after", and then we climb.  Now I’m not normally this unfit, but after partying for as long as I can remember, I struggle to get into it, and the boys following us up with ponies calling “taxi, taxi?” becomes pretty tempting.

I struggle on and it starts to become well worth it.  The glee in Murray’s eyes and voice echo’s my own as he turns to me and grins; “we’re climbing an active volcano”.

It’s such a thrill as we climb ever higher, the sun setting behind us.  The views get better and better and we are all totally psyched about the experience.  As we get closer to the summit, the ground changes dramatically and we’re walking on rugged, crunching, black volcanic rock.  Footing becomes unsteady and we’re losing light fast.  It’s amazing to view the hot steam pouring over the rock in the twilight.  It’s pretty much pitch dark as we approach the possibility of lava.

Slightly disappointed to only see the glow of red from a vantage point near the top.  It’s a damn good job we had a guide, as if we’d been bungling along in the dark we would have fallen in.  it’s a deep crevice with heat pouring from the depths.  Regardless of missing out on seeing a flow, it’s still be well worth the trek up.  Coming back down is an amazing adrenaline fueled buzz, foot placed in front of foot and only a few torches between us.  Ryan quips that we have managed to climb a volcano with a variety of hats, a blanket and a key chain flashlight.  This after seeing a number of climbers with full gear, spiked boots, ropes and axes.  What an achievement...

By the time we make it back to the hostel we’re all famished, and we chow down at a local place that looks like someone’s living room.  After the excitement of the day, we’re all in need of a few beers to celebrate one ticked off the bucket list.  Still want to see that lava though.
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