Monday, August 22, 2011

Volcán Santa María

Jill´s teacher in Xela is also a tour guide and we decided to go with him to climb Santa Maria volcano. We left at 4am to try to catch sunrise at the top. Although we didn´t make it all the way to the top, we did have a nice view.

The hike is pretty strenuous, taking us almost 3 hours of constant incline to get to the top.  We were the only people there and the view was definitely worth it.  You can see Xela on one side, surrounded by mountains.  You can even catch a small glimpse of Lake Atitlán.

On the other side is a wonderful view of Santiaguito, a volcano that was made during the 1902 eruption of Santa María.  It has been in constant eruption since 1922 and is considered among the 10 most dangerous volcanos in the world.  Usually, the volcano erupts at least every hour, every day.  We sat and watched, hoping for an eruption, but we were not so lucky, only catching the constant plume of ash.

The morning´s weather was perfect for us as normally the view of the volcano is covered with clouds.  On the way down we passed a couple groups of indigenous women in their hot clothes and dress shoes.  Apparantly, some evangelical churches demand that their worshippers go on a 3 day fast and then climb to the top of the volcano to worship.  These women were most likely participating in the fast.

(doesn´t look so tall from down here)

The hike downhill was much less strenous and we stopped in the small town at the base of the mountain to celebrate the hike. 

One beer led to another and when we finally left the tienda we decided to get one more right by the bus stop.  We entered into a shady cantina, the only place selling beer near the bus stop.  Mike immediately hit it off with a man who had obviously had a few too many, as evident by the wet spot he had in the front crotch section of his jeans.  He was also named Mike.  He wasn´t making much sense, plus he was trying to speak English, so Mike just started repeating the noises he was making.  The drunk guys loved it, with lots of hysterical laughter.  Strangely, Mike and Mike got along quite well.  Probably wisely, Heber (our guide) suggested that we needed to get on the bus.

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