Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Volcan Santa Maria

It is the perfectly shaped volcano in any of the blogs thus far. Santa Maria. And since it is so perfectly shaped, it means the entire hike is steep. Up, up, and up. At first I imagined hiking a volcano with scree and just hiking straight up. No, no, it wasn't like my daydreams. It was a trail with gorgeous, huge pine trees, forest, and purple flowers popping around every corner. I could have been hiking Camel's Hump in Vermont...until we got to the top. That's another story.

The hike began at 5am. Darkness still devoured Xela, and as we rode down bumpy, pot-holed filled pueblo roads to the trail head, the day slowly began to brighten.
But not by much. As it was overcast. Not only a little. A lot. So thick with mist that we were all wet. It wasn't exactly raining. There were only three students brave enough to endure the wet, insanely early departure for Santa Maria. Our awesome teacher, who is also a guide, was Miguel. Good guy. Lot's of inappropriate jokes. That's the norm here. Really. Cultural. Kind of funny. Everyone takes it to the next level. (Dave, I've met my match!)
The yellow yarn looking stuff in the trees is a plant called Pelo del Angel = Hair of an Angel.

We started the hike with about five other buses full of locals...mostly indigenous locals from surrounding pueblos. They were out for a Saturday hike with their evangelical churches. Slowly, just about every person passed us. The old women with slip on shoes. The younger women carrying babies. The only group that didn't pass us had a sick woman and a woman in heals who kept getting stuck in mud. Might I add this hike usually takes about four hours to the summit. This is normal life for locals. Who needs a rain coat when you have a towel wrapped around you? So, I just shrugged my shoulders at my lack of a raincoat and decided "if they can handle it, I can handle it." And I did.

Since it was so overcast and we were taking our sweet time, I focused on the smaller fascinations of life: Flowers and plants drenched with water droplets hung in silent motion.

As we approached the summit, the clouds got thicker. The mist doubled over. Stillness of the soupy air clung to us like fear in a mystery.
It was perhaps at this point that I begin writing Guatemalan Spirit Walkers in my head.

I thank the group I was with for making me take my time and play mentally, emotionally in this magical, enchanted forest. Gracias a Helena, Carolina, y Miguel.

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