Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Pacaya en la noche

Well we are finally back in Guatemala. Travel back home was fairly uneventful. We had one short delay and we missed one flight....Actually just Max, Zoe and I missed the flight. The travel agent had the kids and I flying on a separate flight from Kim on one of our legs. Fortunately no harm done as there was room on Kim's flight.


Our house was intact, and with the exception of an overly filthy fish tank and some mold in some of the closets, in perfect order. Good to be home. Max was excited to see his fish (after we cleaned the tank were finally able to see them that is) and get reacquainted with his toys. Zoe is doing pretty well, but is a little fussier than usual, probably adjusting to being home again...

We have managed our first outing already on Tuesday night.

Volcan Pacaya is about 20 miles south of the capital and has been slowly erupting for the last couple of weeks while we were gone. Slow motion rivers of lava have been rolling out drawing huge crowds during the day and night.


We went up last night with some friends to see the fireworks. After several hours of rush hour traffic, wrong turns, rumors and miscommunications we finally arrived at the parking lot for the trail at about 8:30, well after dark. It was a mild hike through a well maintained path...well maintained until it was overrun by a huge river of recently cooled lava. Unfortunately we missed the main part of this current eruption and had to climb a bit over the recent lava to get to where some fresh lava was flowing out.


Climbing on recently cooled lava is pretty cool. It's unstable and shifts when you step on it. It's also still pretty hot. There were parts that I passed where I would look back to the spot where I had just walked and see a glow through a crack and realize I had been walking just over a red hot patch with a cool crust above it. At one point I put my tripod down to take some pictures and when I was packing it up I burned myself on it; some of the rubber on the feet had melted and the metal of the legs was burning hot to the touch. You get the feeling as you walk on it that it's actually hollow and fragile, so it's hard to shake the feeling that you're going to drop you through to the really hot stuff down below. It's also very sharp and irregular, making for difficult climbing because you can't use your hands to balance yourself without getting them cut up.

I was able to get within about 10 yards of a good sized patch of lava. Close enough that I could feel the heat on my face and the air shimmered a little bit. All in all a really good time. Didn't get back home until 1:30, but it was worth it...

Vacas en la niebla