Today being a Sunday all of the Peace Corps volunteers had the day off (with the exception of mass most Sundays), and one of the volunteers was wonderful enough to coordinate a group expidition to Pacaya. Pacaya is a volcano that was dormant for over 100 years prior to 1965. It erupted violently that year and has been fairly active since. We hiked up to and on the lava flows today and even roasted marshmallows and warmed our hands over the vents. 

Our morning started at 5 this morning with getting up and getting ready for a big day of hiking. My group met around 6 to head into Antigua where we met the rest of the group at 7. We had hired a minibus to drive the 40 minutes or so to Pacaya, which was much more comfortable than riding in a crouded camioneta. The hike was intense since we were some 8,000 feet above sea level. The terain is also rather dusty, and I ended up having some problems breathing about half way up. However, I did make it all the way to the lava flows (which were not flowing today), and all the way back down safely, though I think I will be talking to the medical office in Santa Lucia during training tomorrow. They warned me during my medical intake interview that asthma may be a problem here due to the air quality and altitude, but they have an amazing staff here and are able to accomodate a variety of respiratory issues. 

Most of the walk was through forest type terrain, though the pitch was sufficiently steep. It was well worth it ´vale la pena´and the lava flows themselves were amazing. We were able to see for miles and miles! I have pictures of cities and lakes miles away that I will be posting soon. We could also feel a lot of heat from the vents and siting on the ´cooled´lava was only possible for 15 minutes or so and then it got a little too toasty. While we are working extremely hard here on new Spanish vocablulary and technical abilities, Sundays give us the chance to get to know other parts of the country. We are strongly encouraged by the Peace Corps to take trips with our families to get to know all we can about Guatemala, and there is plenty to keep us busy for two years of weekends. For how small the country is it offers an amazing variety of landscapes and cultures. I am sure that Pacaya, in all its glory, was only the beginning.

Vaya bien,
10/3/2010 07:47:45 pm

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