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Published: January 5th 2009
Arriving in Antigua in 2 hours after setting off from Pana, checked in at my hostel, took the dorm rooms and I was the only one there, 3 bunk beds, lots of space but the beds are creaky, and the bottom bunk does not have much headspace so i chose the top bunk. Quickly walked the town and shop around for prices to get up the Volcan Pacaya, heard so much about this mountain from fellow travellers where you can get so close to the lava flows. Walked around town looking for lunch, Antigua is very nice city cobbled stone streets, horse drawn carriages manily for tourists and so shit all over the pavement, watch your steps! Locals walk about in their colorful native costumes, they are not that tall i tell you, most only come up to my chest and i am only 5´11". Found a Japanese palce in one of the side streets and went for it. Not cheap, i found this town to be more expensive but is quite touristy is why. Around 230pm we got picked up and the van consists of 8 people, a family of 4 from North Carolina, an elder American lady, a Colombian-Brazilian
TANQUE DE LA UNION
couple and me. About 2 hour drive to the parque, paid our entrance and off we set. Got to the start point, The American family is complaining that they were not told we need torch/flashlight for the trek and apparently they were promised English speaking guide, and our guide, Raul could barely speak English and to top it off they are not dressed for the trek, tennis shoes and casual clothing, well let us hope they wont be a pain in the neck.
I bought a baston(stick) for 5 dibdobs as Vinny told me it will be good to prop myself up and keep me from falling on the sharp volcanic rocks. The trek will take us about 2 to 3 hours to get up depending on how fast our group is, at the foot of the volcano the soil is looses already despite having some vegetatins, and you keep an eye on the roots and tree stomp sticking out the ground, The American family surprisingly was doing well, We got to a point where we can see the other 3 volcanoes accross the other end of the horizon, the guide told us one is active. Looks gorgeous with
the clouds below the peaks, great fotos.
Raul said the trek changes everytime depending on where the lava is flowing as it changes courses every so often, The second part of the trek is more difficult, hiking through loose, powdery soil and eventually we encounter pumice type rocks, quite sharp so easy to hurt yourself if not careful, the rocks are hollow and light but very sharp. We slowly make our way up the side of the mountain, hundreds of tourists are ahead of us, we can see them from where we are everyone is trying to get to the lava before sunset. There is a bit of traffic, you struggle to keep your balance all the time. Slowly getting close to the lave we felt the heat already, we are actually hiking and stepping on recently cooled lava flows, you can see the smoke and feel the heat! The Colombian girl freaked out a bit and i tried to tell her it will be ok, not really, i was a bit worried too!!
The more we climb up the hotter the rocks gets, and then we saw some red glow on the ground we are stepping on, we
VIEW FROM VOLCAN PACAYA
THREE OTHER VOLCANOES ACCROSS PACAYA
are walking on top of lavas!! Since this flow has not completely cooled you see red lava at evry nook and cranny, we have to be careful with our step as any misstep can prove fatal! We followed our guide and he led us to the main flow, it was quite incredible on how close we are allowed to get to the lava flows, will not happen in the US of A for sure. Took lots of photos like everyone else, made a few videos, then Raul led us to even more lava flows, he siad to follow him strictly and not to go astray, gingerly followed him, lava under my steps, quite an exhilirating experience really!! Like my Spanish friend Eugenio said, this is the best you will experience! We did not stay for long, hundreds of people are fighting for space to take fotos and it gets crowded and dangerous, we started heading down and this si the most difficult part really. Armed with our torches we slowly make our way down, sharp rocks, steep slippery slopes, crowds of people on the trail, needed to concentrate at this point. Somehoe we manage to get down to the tree
line again and what a relief no one injured among us, we made our way back down to the park entrance, occasionally getting annoyed by loud teenagers behind us, yelling and screaming.
Said our goodbye to Raul and off we went, our van encountered electrical problems, not headlights as the battery if dead, we stopped at a small town near a police station and waited for another shuttle, came in 45 minutes and we got back to Antigua quite late, found Pollo Campero and had a take out and went back to my hostel really tired and dirty. Slept very well. Woke up and had my hot shower and breakfast, walked around town and took photos of the attractions, then went to the mercado and bought a papaya, when i got back to the hostel a Filipino American named Danny is in the dorm, we chat for a bit he lives in San Diego.Walked around town the whole day my feet aching the cobblestones are nit exactly comfortable to your feet, theyre not leveled and a bit slippery. The cheapest food I can find is at Pollo Campero so had most of my meals there, this is the local
version of McDonalds, not my favorite but will do for now.
Went to the market and bought a papaya and had that for a snack along with the wonderful banana bread i bought from Doña Luisa panaderia.
An American dude from Brookline, MA checked in that evening, an MS student at BU he arrived from El Salvador after visiting his girlfriend·s family, we had a chat for a bitm gave him some of my papaya as he was starving from all day bus trip from El Salvador. He gave me tips on where to go in the country. Past 10pm an exhausted Danny came back from the mountain, he was a bit dissapointed the lava was not flowing, oh well better than nothing. Went to bed early and i leave for Coban tomorrow.
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