Becoming Fools!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 2 - Antigua Guatemala

Farm fields on the side of the volcano.




Volcano Fuego


First site of lava.



Hiking on all lava.



Flowing lava!




One of the guides lighting his cigarette.



Roasting marshmallows.





Farmer who lives on the side of the volcano.


An old cathedral we visited.


Guatemalan wiring.



Traditional Catholic procession in celebration for lent.



My little shoe shine friend Carlos.


So yes it is day five by now, but I wanted to catch up on all that has been happening. We have been keeping ourselves very busy! Getting up at 4 or 5 am and being busy till nine at night. By the time we get back to our hotel we are exhausted! As well, internet is a bit more difficult than I thought (unless I’m technically challenged). Most places have internet, but we are finding that either it is a very weak connection, or we can’t seem to get it to work, or there are no electrical outlets. You feel spoiled when little things like that frustrate you at the end of a long day.

We are having a great time out here! Experiencing things we never even expected. So I'll get down to it.

Our second day here in Antigua we booked a hiking tour up one of the live volcano Pacaya, one of the live volcanos in the area. We were told to do most activities out of the main city by tour, otherwise we would be robbed.
So we found a good price, $7 per person (we discovered later that day that sometimes even if you pay more in hopes to have a better tour, you still get lumped all together in the same group with cheap people like us).
We were picked up from our hotel at 6 am. Our driver proceeded to drive around the town picking up 12 more people. We all fit in to a Mitsubishi van. It took about an hour/hour and half drive to the volcano. It was a great drive, we were able to see more of the country side and towns where the Guatemalans live.
When we got to the "parking lot" immediately kids were opening the door of our van to offer us walking sticks for rental. They tried to convince us we would need them for the very steep hike. Matt caved as a very cute little girl looked
up at him with her sad eyes. So off we went. The beginning was quite steep. Men with horses followed us till they couldn't go any further, trying to convince anyone in the group who looked tired to take their taxi. We met a couple of older
gentleman who were in our tour group. They had been friends since high school and now lived in separate states but still kept in contact with each other (they had another friend who had stayed behind for the day). They had taken a trip to Mexico
many years ago and wanted to repeat their trip and have a reunion. They had quite interesting stories of places they had been.
The first part of the hike was through the jungle, 200 year old cypress trees, small vines, and gorgeous flowers.
Once and a while the foliage would break and we could see the views of other volcanoes and farms and fields on the volcanoes' slopes.
Guatemalan families who had hiked up earlier in the morning were camped out along the way ready to sell you fruit, water and even
souvenirs. After two thirds of the way the jungle stopped and there were hills of dried lava and we could see the top of the volcano smoking.
The last 30 mins we were hiking on hard dried lava. As we got ascended the cool breeze transitioned into warm air.
We knew we were getting closer to the lava. When we did it was unbelievable. Rivers of lava were bubbling up and flowing.
You could hear the crackling and see the steam rising. Other groups had marshmallows and were trying to roast them. We stood
there in awe for quite some time. We were unable to go all the way to the top. Most guides to do not like going further as the path becomes
more unpredictable.
After our hike, Matthew asked our gentlemen friends if they would like to join us for lunch back at Antigua, they were delighted, as they had
enjoyed our company thus far.
Back in Antigua we quickly showered and then met our friends at one of our favorite places, the Rainbow Cafe. We exchanged more stories,
and they were delighted to hear why we had come to Guatemala. They decided to treat us and pay for our dinner. We said Adios as they were off the city
as they were leaving the next day to return home.

We were tired form being up so early and hiking but definitely not ready to sit and relax, we wanted to do some more exploring. So off we went walking
the streets of Antigua. We made our way to central park, to our surprise a celebration for easter was just starting. We ran to get closer and take some photographs.
For the rest of the afternoon we perused shops and store fronts, explored an old cathedral.
On our way to get some refreshments from central park, we saw a large gathering of people and heard music. As we got closer we could see a procession starting. My photographer instincts kicked in and I started running to get closer. It was a very unique thing to see, and a great way to end the day.

Stay tuned for more stories and visiting Mayan gods.
(ps. sorry for the lack of updates, working internet is hard to find here)

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