We had a fun dinner with Scott, Tracy, Will and Molly at MonoLoco last night to celebrate Molly’s sixth birthday. They come up to Antigua occasionally to escape the Rio heat and the unrelenting demands of managing Nana Juana. We spent hours talking about life in the Rio and life back home – theirs’ in Australia and ours’ in the US. Fun night!
We have been enjoying long lazy mornings here in Antigua. However, we struggled out of bed at 5:30 am today in order to catch the early shuttle to Pacaya. Pacaya is one of three active volcanoes of the 33 in Guatemala. Fuego is closer to Antigua but the popular volcano hike is an hour bus ride away at Pacaya. Scott, Tracy, Will and Molly had done the tour awhile back so we knew to expect a pretty brisk pace at first. When we arrived, we headed immediately up the incline after paying in at the park entrance. Within 15 minutes, we were a little winded and we knew we had a more than hour’s climb ahead. Lily and I fell to the back of the pack where you are close to the horses they lead behind each group in order to carry any hikers who give out. Sure enough, at each rest stop, the person leading the horses would come up to us to see if we wanted a “taxi natural.”
We were trying not to cave in and ride the horse up. Well, two of us were trying not to cave. Lily was for supporting the working horses of Guatemala. However, we want to do some hiking this summer and encouraged her to test her legs a little harder. She was dragging pretty slowly when Little Buddy Black Dog started hiking with her. He kept her going and even got her up to a run a couple of times. We may need a dog to do any future long trails.
The highlight of the hike was roasting marshmallows in the hot pits which are near to top of the hiking path. We didn’t go anywhere near the rim which is smoking with heat. However, we got high enough to get close to some areas dug out to get to the heat. We didn’t see any flowing lava or even any red hot rocks and none of the rocks near the roasting area were hot to the touch. I think they used to take tourists a little higher up where things are a bit hotter but have decided this was too accident-prone.
We finally made the summit and sat for a long time with a great view of the barren volcano and the jungle spread 360 degrees around us. Going down was much quicker but even more precarious. A lot of the trail was gravelly lava rocks which were extremely slippery. We finally made it back to the bottom and settled in the van for the ride back to Antigua. When we got back to the hotel, Lily took her shoes and socks off and exclaimed “what is this??” Her toes were totally covered in black dust. Of course, the feet came clean but the shoes may be taking a little Guatemala lava dust to Oklahoma.