Besides being the land of eternal spring, Guatemala is also called the land of volcanoes. With more than 30 of them, this is not surprising. Especially in the south it is the volcanoes that dominate the landscape. It was great to walk over the solidified lava and to hear the rumbling of the volcano in the background. It was without a doubt one of the most impressive things I saw during my trip.
The volcano gives and takes
During my trip I soon found out that Guatemalans are very proud of their volcanoes. An often heard statement in this country is: 'The volcano gives and takes'. The fertile soil provides food and it plays a big role in the local culture. And if you get into conversation with a Guatemalan, I am sure that sooner or later the conversation will be about this impressive natural phenomenon.
My trip to the Pacaya volcano
Around 9 o'clock my driver José and guide Manuel picked me up for a visit to the Pacaya volcano. This volcano owes its name to the Pacaya tree that grows there a lot and that the people love. We arrived in San Francisco de Sales, a village at the foot of the volcano where the hike starts. Together with Manuel and a local guide from the village who knows this area really well, we went out. It was a walk of about 1.5 hours up through the woods. Slowly the forest area gave way to black sand and more open plains until we reached a view point and suddenly were on black solidified lava.
Standing eye to eye with the Pacaya volcano
There we were, face to face with the volcano. The rumbling I had heard all the time now fell into place, because from the tip of the immense mountain I saw rocks and stones flying up. I was told that, if you are lucky, you can even see the red-hot lava flowing down. All this, of course, from a safe distance. We walked over the solidified lava, with each time our gaze on the immense volcano. In some places I felt the heat rising from the ground. Surprised I looked at my guide, how can this still radiate so much heat? Anyway, flowing lava can of course reach a temperature of up to 1200 degrees Celsius. It takes a few years before it has cooled down completely. A familiar phenomenon for my guide, because from his backpack he got marshmallows that we could roast above this heat, delicious! It was a great experience to see nature in its pure form.
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