Saturday, May 24, 2008

Guatemala – A Volcano, Working with the Poor, The Pacific Coast and a Malfunctioning Lens! (part 1 of 2)

Trip Dates: April 21 - 22, 2008

I was really looking forward to this trip – another 48 hours in Guatemala! I have had only one other layover in Guatemala before and it was one of my best trips for photography yet. I was hoping this would be the same.

Capt. Mark P. gave me the leg down. GUA is not an easy airport to fly into with all the mountains around, but this time there was not much weather and it was daytime. It’s really interesting coming in over the mountains and seeing the city sprawled out over some pretty rough terrain.

We arrived at the hotel by 1:00 in the afternoon and Mark said he’d like to go to the Pacaya Volcano today, would I like to go? I asked how much it would be and when he said about $70 each, I said no thanks, I was too cheap and didn’t want to spend that much money. He said OK he was going anyhow. A short time later the phone rang in my room and Mark said – Come along Scott, I’ll pay half your way. Now I felt bad for being cheap, but not so bad that I didn’t take him up on his offer! We met downstairs and were soon on our way with a local driver heading towards the Pacaya Volcano. It was an interesting drive and I snapped a few photos along the way,

including some houses

a church

and some workers

After an hour and a half drive, we arrived at the base of the volcano, where we met our guide who would escort us up to the lava flows. Some young boys tried to sell us some walking poles but they soon got side tracked fighting with each other,

so they didn’t make any sales..

Horses were also available for hire, but we decided to walk. The trail got steep fast as noted here by Mark:

He did great, I was working hard – I did have my 25 lb pack – which Mark offered to carry but I had to say no since he was already paying half my way! We say some local villagers doing some work on the trail trying to prevent erosion.

We went through a misty, cloudy area a couple times during the climb, which gave an eerie feel to the place.

When we finally arrived at the volcano we could just make out the lava flow through the clouds. We could also feel the warmth and noted a unique smell. It was really a breathtaking sight when the clouds started to clear.

Another group (a family from Isreal) came up after us on horses and the guides got a little crazy as they took the horses back down.

We spent an hour or so walking over to the lava flow and got close enough that the heat was pretty intense.

The clouds cleared just enough for us to get a view of the top of the volcano where the steam was erupting.

We started down after another half hour and noted how much progress the lava flow had made during the short time we were there.

We had an uneventful hike back down and had some refreshments at the local snack bar at the base of the Pacaya Volcano.

As we drove back to the hotel I tried to pay Mark for my half of the trip but he wouldn’t take it. He said “just send me some pictures” and it will be worth it. It definitely was! Thanks Mark for inviting me to go! (End of Part 1)

View more photos of Guatemala at my website,