Volcan Pacaya

The next morning, Sunday, we got up at the asscrack of dawn for the 1 3/4hr drive from Antigua to Volcan Pacaya, one of the many active volcanoes in the area.

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The park entrance is a building in a small town where gringos pay a park fee – after being rented walking sticks for $0.75 by a half-dozen local kids – and locals walk around the side to bring their horses in and follow you up in case you get lazy / are fat and want a lift to the top.

The weather was perfect. There was an incredibly thick fog layer as we ascended through the forest, and when we emerged beyond the treeline it felt like stepping onto an alien planet.

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As we walked, the volcano took shape before us.

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And sometimes disappeared away from us.

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There were 10 in our group, and I think I was the only one daft enough to forget a camera. All of these photos were taken on Clay’s camera. Thanks for letting me borrow it, bro!

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Traffic can get busy on the mountain, but luckily there’s local infrastructure available to handle the chaos.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We couldn’t go to the top (too dangerous), but we did roast marshmallows on open vents, and I celebrated the break in the clouds that let us see around.

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Clay was particularly impressed, and dressed like our dad to celebrate.

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It was about an hour and a half up, so I took a brief nap with our guide before the descent.

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And Clay made a new friend once back to the ranger station. It was kind of a one-sided relationship.

Back in Antigua, we napped before heading out to dinner. A different Clayton, this one from Texas, joined us for dinner, along with Justin from Seattle, who has been studying Spanish in San Pedro la Laguna for a number of weeks now. A local guitar duo played Tenacious D’s “Fuck Her Gently” to the delight of the mostly American crowd at the restaurant, and we walked back to the hostel for a few drinks before once again calling it an early night. We had to catch a 6:30am bus the next morning to Quetzaltenango (“Xela”).

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