Sunday, June 19, 2011

Volcan San Pedro

Yesterday, Darcy and I spent the day on a grueling hike up Volcan San Pedro, one of three gorgeous volcanoes bordering Lake Atitlan. Despite the soreness that’s slowly been creeping in this morning, and my muddy clothes and sneakers that may never be clean again, it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done!

Darcy and I with Capu, our trusty guide

We spent Friday night in San Pedro so we could be ready to go early Saturday morning. San Pedro has two parts – the tourist-y “gringo land” right off of the boat docks (where Darcy and I went the first time we came to San Pedro on our first weekend), and the real town of San Pedro behind it. We spent some time wandering the town, stopping to peek into a service in the gorgeous white church in the middle of town, and checking out some of the fun restaurants and bars in the area. In the morning, after a quick breakfast of eggs, beans, plantains, and of course, tortillas and truly incredible Guatemalan coffee, we packed up our backpacks with agua pura, took a tuk tuk to the starting point, and started up the volcano!

Ready to go!

The hike up was no easy feat, and took us just under three hours, but the beautiful views of the lake, the surrounding jungle, and the coffee, onion, and corn fields that we walked through were motivation enough to keep pushing on, even when our legs were ready to fall off and breathing became a little bit harder from the high elevation. Our guide continually telling us every fifteen minutes – starting at just past the halfway point, a beautiful two-story lookout post where we took a brief break and took in some amazing views of the lake – that we were only about fifteen minutes away also helped us to keep going, as much as we hated never really knowing how much further we had to go. 

The scenery changed on the last stretch of our hike, as the weather changed from hot and sunny to colder and misty, and the clouds and hazy mist of the jungle surrounded us. Finally, we reached the top – and we were greeted by an amazing view of…nothing! The clouds had completely overtaken the sky and unfortunately prevented us from seeing the anticipated views of the lake and surrounding mountains, but the clouds all around us made us feel like we were on top of the world, or on the edge of the sky. If the hike up was difficult, the descent was a different experience altogether. As soon as we reached the top of the volcano, it started to downpour – hooray for rainy season! – so the hike down was less of a hike and more of a muddy slip ‘n slide. It was definitely quite an adventure, and when we finally reached the bottom, we were exhausted and covered head to toe in mud. We stopped for another quick cup of the most delicious coffee I’ve ever had on the way back to the boat, and upon our arrival in Pana, we each showered off all the mud that we could and immediately fell asleep for the next 12 hours.

The "view" from the top

Overall, it was an absolutely incredible journey, but we’re thinking that next weekend might call for some R&R (and maybe a massage?) at one of the beautiful hotels across the lake – especially with the packed week we have ahead of us! FINALLY we have some community visits scheduled. Here is our schedule for the week:

Monday – Chuacruz

Tuesday – Vasconcelos  & Morales

Thursday – Santiago
Friday – Chimaltenango

Luckily we have a break on Wednesday to input the data we get from our trips on Monday and Tuesday, to prepare for Santiago and Chimaltenango, and to catch up on some work in the office. Lety will be joining us on our visits to Chuacruz, and we’ll likely be with some of the other community facilitators on our other visits as well, but with so much going on we’re dealing with the logistics on a day-by-day basis. On some of these trips, we’ll also be accompanied by a professional photographer from Italy, who offered to come along with us and take some pictures of OB’s cooperatives and artisans for free. Now that we’re clean and rested from our volcano journey, we’ll be spending the day going to the market, cooking, and relaxing a little bit before what’s sure to be a hectic – but incredibly productive – week in the communities.

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