On our first Monday at Pop Wuj we sat through an informational meeting describing the weeks activities. A trip for Sunday the (13th of June) was described as a trip to a volcano and lake in a nearby area. As I’m dying to see an active volcano I signed up immediately. Unfortunately I didn’t know what I was in for…
On Sunday morning we set out for the rainforestat 7 am. This is the only rainforest in Guatemala. I of course put my raincoat on the bed so I wouldn’t forget it, and upon arriving at our starting point, realized it was still on the bed. At least it was only sporadically misting at this point.
We began hiking up steep roads through a small village. Considering I haven’t had any strenuous exercise in about 3 weeks and we’re at about 2700 meters, this was an adventure to say the least. Stacy and I were the only ones wearing shorts, and we were definitely considered the lucky ones as everyone was huffing and puffing and sweating their way up the cobblestone paved roads. And then it got harder. It turned to an interesting combination of sand and mud. Thank goodness I stole my mom’s waterproof sneakers. The only respite was when the road turned from a 45 degree incline to a 10 degree incline. It was nuts. Finally we arrived at THE PARK! That meant we only had another 30 minutes of uphill hiking to go.
Of course, we were now in the legitimate rain forest, and it had started raining. And it was about 50 degrees. So now we were freezing, and I was wet. We ate our brunch (it was only about 10:30 am at this point) overlooking the lake because there were more sheltered picnic tables available. That’s when I realized I was mistaken, we weren’t seeing a volcano and a lake, we were seeing a crater lake. It was still beautiful, but not quite what I had expected.
We descended 577 stairs to get down to lake level and we saw some groups of Mayans performing ceremonies to calm the volcanoes and stop the rain. Unfortunately for us it was raining even harder! After a few more picture ops we started our return trek. It was not as hard on the lungs, but pretty hard on the knees. All in all, a great day of aerobic (and at times anaerobic) exercise with pretty cool cultural references.