BootsnAll Travel Network

So much to say, so little time…

Once again I find myself with very limited internet time, plus I still can’t upload all of my recent pictures, so a quick update before the weekend.

Phat Tuesday was much more than I, and the rest of the gringos I was with, than I bargained for. I need my photos to explain what really happened, but let’s just say for now that kids smashing hollowed out eggshells with confetti is putting it very very mildly. Our group of 6, and then 8, were targeted from the get-go, and while it was fun initially, things got a little out of hand and I think we left just in the nick of time before one of us might have become seriously injured.

Tuesday night was also the very last night of my homestay with my family. When I returned home at 10pm I noticed that the house had been re-occupied. Bags were left in the la sala, the lights were on. But no sign of my mom or little noisey Tonito. I took a last shower, packed my bag, and went to bed. But couldn’t sleep for the whole night. Which doesn’t help when one must go backpacking in a few hours. I woke up at 6am, left a note on the kitchen table with the keys, took the last yogurt in the fridge, and walked the 25 minutes to the meeting point.

The hike is the easiest of the 4 that Quetzeltrekkers offers, so I figured this would be a good way to gauge my ability. There were 8 of us, plus 2 guides. Totaly hiking time is only 3.5-4 hours, but with plenty of breaks and rest stops (including a dip in the lake) the total was closer to 6 hours. I thought that I was in shape. Yeah, but maybe not after eating half the number of calories that I am used to back home. The trek up Volcan Santiguito totally kicked my ass. I hate to admit it, but I was the weak wus in our group. I haven’t really backpacked with gear and food and 4.5 litres of water before. Plus my bag isn’t really that big, so I had to be creative with hanging our extra food and such on my bag. The first few hours were fine, just level ground. But the part after lunch was excruitating. My legs burned, I huffed and puffed and the weight on my shoulders was a huge burden. Plus I over ate during lunch and the immediate work up the mountain took it’s toll on my stomach filled with 3 P&J sandwiches, tortillas chips and guacamole, potato salad and lots of water. I am still feeling the soreness in my shoulders.

One of my calf muscles cramped up just before we arrived to camp, so when we finally arrived to our clearing, everyone pitched in with setting up tents, kitchen, etc. and I was the lazy one in the bunch as I “stretched” and pretended to be preoccupied. I did help thread one tent pole though, so I wasn’t totally useless! We were about 2km from the volcano, and during the evening’s trembles and eruptions, the clouds finally cleared away to reveal a beatiful night sky with lave flows viewable from our vantage point. Volcan Santiguito is the most active of Guatemala’s 37 volcanoes, and it did not disappoint. Any closer and we would put ourselves in great danger, as there have been deaths in the last few years with people trying to climb it and getting caught by rock projectiles and vents. So our viewing spot was just as close as I wanted to be, thank you very much.

I realized something during my overnight hike up the Volcano. I like being clean. I like having that feeling of a warm, relaxing shower and climbing into clean clothes. Because I hated how I felt coming down the mountain. Itchy mosquito bites all over my arms, neck and legs. Inhaling dust from the path. Having my shirt soaked in sweat. And being showered with ash. Our route was a beautiful one with changing landscapes and challenging terrian. Going through the trees, our path is narrow and we knock into the vegetation on numerous occassions, which means a shake, rattle and roll and the person behind you gets a fine layer of ash. I felt so dirty and grimey yesterday. Dank and stinky and everyone else was too. So as I type this all nice and clean, I know that 24 hours from now I’ll be back in the state of wretchedness once again.

Because despite how badly the “easy” hike Volcan Santiguito kicked my ass, I decided to sign up and climb Volcan Tajumulco for tomorrow. Common sense says I should not, especially in my body’s banged up condition, plus that fact that everyone I’ve talked to who has done the hike say that they froze during the night despite 2 sleeping bags, layers of clothing, gloves, hats, you name it. Yeah, I should probably just enjoy my hostel room and go out to dinner at Cafe Royal Paris or something. But nah, it’s time for another hike. Cause I’m stubborn, cause that’s what I’m here to do (learn Spanish? okay, I’ll bring my flash cards on my climb tomorrow) and what better way of spending the weekend than climbing up to the highest point in Central America, camping out 200 meters below the summit, then waking up at 4am to climb to the top and watch the sunrise? Well worth the 8 hours of freezing in my dirty clothes and my sore, cramped up muscles, I say. Well, I guess you’ll have to wait until Monday to see what I really have to say. But that’s the plan anyways. And with a HUGE group of 30 climbers, there’s bound to be someone who is more of a wus, more of weakling than I am. Forget about playing basketball every weekend and running marathons, I have the utmost respect for people carrying 50 pounds or more on their back hiking up a mountain, this is hard work! And so I hope I’ll somehow manage to get to the top tomorrow, only freeze for 5 or 6 hours, and come back Sunday evening (to my new family! Kathy’s family!!) to a warm shower, good food, and time to recount the hike. So while everyone is enjoying a nice Saturday evening at home or in a restaurant or in the movie theater, please send WARM thoughts my way because I will seriously be freezing 4000 meters above sea level (no idea what that is in feet, I missed that chapter in my econmics / home economics class). And before I go, a shout out to Megan who returned back to the states and is using the Spanish she learned at Sakribal for up to 5 hours a day, way to go! (okay I lied Megan, but we’ll just pretend, okay?! We miss ya!). Have a fab weekend all!


One response to “So much to say, so little time…”

  1. Jonas says:

    Here are some words of wisdom from Jack Handey for your hiking trip:

    “To me, it’s always a good idea to always carry two sacks of something when you walk around. That way, if anybody says, ‘Hey, can you give me a hand?,’ you can say, ‘Sorry, got these sacks.'”

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