Trip Start Jul 31, 2009
Trip End Feb 27, 2010

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Where I stayed
For a couple of hours I stayed atop a lava spewing volcano

Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Monday, 9 September, Day 227

Antigua, Guatemala

Me Amigo: "Good evening Jasper, what did you do today?"

Jasper:            “Oh not much, just climbed an active volcano and saw streams of lava”

My Amigo: “Wow that sounds pretty fucking awesome, please tell me more”

Jasper:                        “OK, well… I jumped in the back of a van that picked me up from the             hostel, it was filled with other tourists and our tour guide. We drove for             a few hours, unfortunately I was on the seat above the wheel so I felt             every speed bump, and when we reached the volcano and drove half             the way up it on a dirt road, I felt every rock. The van stopped when it             couldn't go any further and we began trekking through the vegetation.             I was unsure wether to be a puss and buy a hiking stick off a child, but             I figured not breaking my ankle was worth $5, and the infamous Guatamalan government probably wasn’t going to get any of the money, so I bought it. The volcano was active with rich soil so the vegetation was thick, and that was pretty much all we could see because the view was hindered by clouds and steam. After an hour of trekking, the green all of a sudden completely disappeared, there was not the slightest remanence of bush or tree. All we were faced with was black, arid rock which twisted up and down, and behind the walls of black stone, was the peak of a steaming volcano. We rushed onwards, and, as we got closer, I could             see a red stream pouring down the steep wall of the volcano. Things were heating up, literally. I rushed onwards and found myself coming face to face with a wall of burning grey rock that was cooling lava. We stayed and looked at it for a while, someone put their stick on the rock and it lit on fire. Everyone seemed fascinated, but to me this was not too            exciting, it was a hot grey and black wall with a burning red undertone, not proper lava.I knew, if I went a little father up, past the grey wall, I would see the real stuff. Taking care not to slip, I continued climbing up the slope            besides the lava stream and saw for the first time, something utterly amazing and                         never before expected in my life, a river of flowing lava. I sat                         sweating on a rock for a good deal of time and stared at the bright red stream that was surreal to be seeing. The river then overflowed and a             second stream began slowly making it’s way down another ditch. Partlyout of curiosity, partly out of machoism, and partly out of the             excitement of child, I climbed down as close as I could to the lava. I            had with me a sandwich which was squerd by a tree branch I picked up along the way. I must have            been only slightly more than a meter from the lava because my stick was no more than a 130cm and within a few seconds of trying to toast the sandwich, it fell on a rock in the lava. After a few tries I spiked the bread again and                         rushed away from the lava. All this happened in about twenty                         seconds, and my sandwich was well and truly toasted, and delicious.                         Without a stick this time, I went back to the lava, closer this time. Less than a meter from the burning river, I was surrounded by steam. I            should have been drenched in sweat but it was evaporating as soon as             it exited my pours. My legs felt like they were getting the worst                         sunburn ever and my shirt, that it was going to catch on fire. The liquid             in my eyes was disappearing, and I had to keep closing my eyelids because             the eyes themselves burned (I kept opening them again because I wanted to see the             lava through the whips of steam). This time I don’t think I even lasted             twenty seconds. For the next hour I just sat and watched what was still             incredible to me, malten lava. Seeing lava today, something I never dreamed I would get close to, was a definite highlight of Latin America,    up there with the whale sharks. What did you do today me Amigo?”

Me Amigo:            “I went to work.”

Tuesday, 10 September, Day 228

Antigua, Guatemala

                        I explored the giant and amazing local markets today. Had delicious pineapple, replaced the knife I lost, found shops selling Super Nintendo’s, and got lost amongst the thousands of stalls. Afterwards I went to the tourist section and spent way too much money and bought things to fill my backpack.  I bought a knife, a poncho, shorts, two pairs of sunglasses, three wristbands and some jocks.

                        In the evening I went back to the same salsa club, it still wasn’t good. What a shame, I had heard good things about the nightlife in Antigua.
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