A Travellerspoint blog

November 2009

El viaje hasta la orilla del infierno!

Pictures of Ben and Kim stupidly close to an active lava flow

sunny 80 °F

Many tourists come to Guatemala to do things that no one in their right mind would let them do in the US. We are no exception! This weekend, we climbed a volcano that is still spewing lava and crossed a barely crusted over rock pathway to get there (yes, that means there was red hot molten rock possibly only inches beneath our feet!). Like average Americans, we assumed that if people let you do it, it must be safe, while here the modis operandi is if people will pay for it, we'll tell them it is safe.

This was no trip for the faint of heart or the heavy of foot and belly. At one point during our scramble up loose pumis and red lava rock, a huge smoldering rock the size of a sack of bowling balls broke off the mountain and came cascading and tumbling towards our group. Luckily, it passed through a gap in the line without injuring anyone. This was the point we were sure that this was one of the most ridiculously stupid things we had done in our lives, an opinion shared by most of our hiking companions.

Nearer to the top, the temperature rose by 20 degrees or so as we started seeing red hot molten rock between the cracks in the lava flow we were walking on. We could feel the heat through our shoes, which were quite torn up by the end. It was more or less the kind of place you would only go to destroy an evil ring or smelt diamonds.

Finally we reached the top of the lava field where there was a river of molten lava flowing down the hillside, and a constantly smoking volcano cone above us. Only a few tourists have been killed from time to time when the volcano decides to give a hiccup while they were on top.

Here was the view while we climbed. These are the three volcanoes that surround Antigua: Acatanengo, Agua, y Fuego, you can see a plume of smoke coming out of Fuego in the back:


All around our feet were cracks similar to this one with glowing, molten rock inside:


Ben looking scared:


Me looking cool and collected like always, though based on the previous shot of Ben I would say my hands were shaking slightly:


The river of lava cascading down the mountain:


You really can´t get tired of shots of lava:


Oh, also, here are two pictures of another hike that we did up La Nariz which is the mountain right next to our town, San Juan. Not quite as exciting in comparison but still pretty!



Posted by KimJay 15:53 Archived in Guatemala Tagged luxury_travel Comments (3)


I thought we were supposed to be on a vacation

all seasons in one day 75 °F

Guatemalan culture is very laid back. At least here in San Juan, the norm is to work from about eight in the morning until about noon and then maybe again after lunch until about two. Very similar to what I saw when I was in Mexico, a teacher is considered full time if they work just in the morning or just in the afternoon. So in our effort to fit in to this very relaxed way of life, Kim and I got ourselves involved in so many projects that we have little to no free time. You know how we were supposed to be travelling through Guatemala and then maybe on to the rest of Central America. Forgettaboutit. Since we arrived in San Juan on the seventeenth of September, we´ve only left once to go two hours away for the weekend. And it doesn´t look like that is going to change much until Kim´s parents come in December. Luckily for us, it´s so beautiful here that it makes it hard to leave. When we first got here we wanted to take lots of day trips to other towns around the lake. Now, we´re too lazy and also too busy to walk the fifteen minutes to the next closest town. Granted, there´s not much reason to go there since it´s overrun by drunk and drugged out gringos.

We´re keeping ourselves very busy here in San Juan working at the Centro five days a week. Kim also started up Spanish classes again this week. When we´re not at the Centro or taking classes, we´re working on the video that we are making for the Centro and on our new project, teaching English to all the kids in the family we are staying with. Without any resources, we´ve had a good time teaching ourselves how to teach English and making lesson plans and we´ve come to two conclusions: there are a lot of really ugly sounds in English and we are really glad we learned English as a first language because it seems much harder to learn as a second language than Spanish.

Posted by BenjaminE 15:52 Archived in Guatemala Tagged volunteer Comments (3)

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