Volcan de Pacaya

I had a bit of an adventure last night. After finding out I could arrange for a tour of Volcan de Pacaya through an outfitter in Antigua I made the journey to that town via the famous Chicken Buses after a bit of anxiety with my nonexistent Spanish language skills. I arrived in Antigua a couple of hours before my tour was to begin so I wandered the markets. I need to get better with my bargaining skills. I seem to have lost them after the trip to China last year.

Our tour started late by 30 or so minutes due to some mix-up with a couple of German university students that’s not worth getting into. The ride from Antigua to the base of the volcan took about an hour and on the ride I chatted with one of the Germans and three physician assistant students from North Carolina who were in Guatemala for a 2-week intensive medical Spanish course. The hike up the volcan was pretty strenuous, the trail covered in fine grit as well as horse droppings. Once we got as high as we would, the view was spectacular! We walked over a cooled lava field that was warm in spots, indicating we weren’t too far above a recent flow.

Then, before we knew it, dusk arrived and the sky became dark fast, which allowed us to see the glow of the lava oozing from the peak. Then we realized we would have to walk down the volcan in the dark. A few of us had flashlights and headlamps but the journey was slow going. Fortunately, we had an excellent guide, Arturo. As I told one of the North Carolinian gals that experience ranked as a medium on my danger scale. Oh, and it figures after my first full day in Guatemala I lose my Spanish phrase book.

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