¡Hola familia y amigos! We have had a wonderful 3 days in Guatemala City and Antigua, but now are headed to the Mayan Highlands. Here is what we conquered on our first couple of days:
On our first day here, we mostly relaxed at our hotel and then had a very traditional Guatemalan meal at a restaurant called Kacao. All of the waiters wore traditional Mayan outfits and the food was delicious, very soup based and flavorful. My favorite meal was a coconut seafood soup, but their tacos, chili rellenos and tortillas were delightful.
The next day we had our first adventure at Pacaya Volcano. It is about 45 minutes away from Guatemala City, and still a fairly active volcano. Our driver, Henry, picked us up and on the drive there answered all our questions about Guatemalan culture, politics and life. Guatemalan people are SO kind and hospitable, they truly will do anything to make your stay perfect. Mostly they are so happy that people are coming to visit their country and getting to know their culture. One thing that did surprise me is that most people who work in tourism in Guatemala do not speak a lick of English and really don’t bother to try. They will just speak to you in Spanish until you respond, but in our case they are just talking to me and then let me translate what I want.
Once we got to the volcano, our guide Raquel met us at the base and we started our 2 hour hike up. We had villagers follow us with horses just in case we got tired and didn’t want to hike up, but miraculously did the entire hike and survived. Our guide would stop along the way and share medicinal plants with us and talk about the most recent eruption in 2010, as well as laugh at our friend Russell taking the craziest pictures in the woods. It was very interesting walking up the volcano and seeing the change in vegetation from beautiful forest to basically another planet composed of petrified lava. Hiking up and down the hills of rock was crazy people you basically are sliding down, getting covered in black powder from the rocks. Our guide showed us a hole in the volcano which you could climb into and turn it into your own personal sauna.
Along the way, Raquel would find us blackberries that grew wild along the volcano, which were delicous. We also roasted and feasted on marshmallows we cooked in these little ovens found along the volcano that were over 400 degrees. Our walk down the volcano was my least favorite part because I wiped out on my ass about 4 times sliding down rocks and dirt. All in all though, climbing Pacaya was one of the most eyeopening and unique experiences I think we’ve all had. Our feet were black for about 2 days and I’m still finding rocks in my shoes, but I would go back any day.