Happy Volcano Day

Hello everyone! I’m writing you on the last day of our stay in Antigua! Today I’m going to visit a coffee plantation to see how they manage to make such delicious beans! There’s so much to write about and so little time. But since it’s Canada Day, I thought I’d at least give you a rundown of yesterday’s adventures!

Yesterday, we visited the Pacaya volcano outside of Antigua and Guatemala city (I think that’s the correct name, I need to double check). It was amazing! We drove up to a little village about 3 kms from the active region of the volcano, only breaking down once, which resulted in the most interesting “bomb start” I’ve ever seen. Our van needed help getting started, and we couldn’t bomb start in reverse, because there wasn’t enough torque, but we couldn’t turn the van around to bomb start in forward, so the driver had a bus back into the van and push it uphill to start it!! It was interesting to say the least.

When we arrived at the village we were immediately surrounded by children selling walking sticks, or to be more specific “renting” them, since you give them back if you didn’t throw them into the lava. The hike to the active region took the good part of an hour, but the three of us from the GAP group got to meet a lot of interesting travelers that were on the hike too. 90% of the hike was through pretty densely forested areas, and the last 10% consisted of a dramatic transition from rolling green hills, to desolate, smoldering rocks. This first picture sort of shows the transition in the distance:

Mexico 2008 766

It essentially felt like walking into Mordor, and I was very sad that I didn’t bring along a sacrificial ring to throw into the lava. I did, however, bring a couple pounds of fireworks for, what else, celebrating Canada Day! (Okay, I have to admit that the draw was to throw explosives into lava, but it’s kinda neat that it was the day before Canada Day). Anyway, to give you an idea about how hot it was there, you can look at this second picture, which has an embarrassing amount of glistening sweat.

Mexico 2008 770

As you can probably see, we were able to come dangerously close to the lava, and in some cases we were able to light our walking sticks on fire by shoving them through cracks under the rocks we walked on. I initially tried lighting my fireworks with a lighter, but the wind was too strong, so I just threw them down cracks where it was hot enough for them to spontaneously ignite. The resulting shower of sparks and flames really looked like an eruption. (Someone got a video, but it’s not too good). The molten lava that was flowing in the first picture was a little too hot to get to, which is probably a good thing. The air was dense and sulfurous, and probably upwards of 50 degrees Celcius in some places. It was threatening to rain, and we would have welcomed it.

Darkness fell shortly after we arrived at the top, and we had to leave or risk being targets for bandidos in the darkness. On the way down we could see another volcano in the distance erupting, with thunderclouds in the background providing lightning, and the stars above shining down. It was a pretty awesome sight.

Alright, I’m signing off and having a coffee filled day!!