Icy Sunrise

Trip Start Dec 25, 2012
Trip End Aug 02, 2013

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Flag of Guatemala  , Central Mexico and Gulf Coast,
Wednesday, January 16, 2013

After a long day of busing through Mexico walking across the border into Guatemala and catching another van and car we finally reach Quetzaltenango a town also known as Xela.

The town of Xela itself is not very much but we have come specifically for the mid-night hike up the Santa Maria Volcano!

Its 11:55pm and its cold, but we're all ready to go. Diago our guide (16 years old!) is leading the way up through Cloud Forrest under only the light of our head lamps. It is a cloudy night and any moonlight we had hoped to hike under was non existent. With a six hour hike to the top ahead of us (normally three hours during the day) we slowly trek up the mountain. The clouds are very low and with each leg of the climb brings more cold and rain. Who's awesome idea was this?! Every stop we make allows the bite of the cold air through our layers of clothes, so we make the stops short and keep trudging on.

It's now 4:30 and because of our short stops we have reached the top ahead of schedule. It is a very windy night and a spot where we can have shelter to wait for an hour before the sunrise is top priority. The cold is really setting in and we both agreed that we have never ever been so cold in our lives!!! Neither of us are able to feel our toes or fingers and the shivering and chattering of teeth takes us closer to giving up on seeing the sunrise in favour of heading back down the mountain! After waiting among the ice covered rocks and trees for the longest 45 minutes ever we get up to keep moving. We make it to the top alive and... It was the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen!! The colours that spew across the sky leave me breathless with a the shadow cast on the clouds by the neighboring volcano making the endurance of the icy conditions worth it!
We both however are really looking forward to a HOT shower and bed!

We back up the midnight trek with a 3-day trek from Xela to San Pedro (I was not keen on getting on another bus so walking sounded like the better option?) The trek was amazing and we were able to hike through local villages, the Cloud Forrest and corn fields with beautiful views the whole way!
After a long first day of hiking we come to our accommodation for the first night. A town hall in the centre of a little mountain village. To finish off the day a temescal was on offer. It was described to us as a cross between a dog house and pizza oven. With the description not sounding so appealing it turned out to be a VERY refreshing and relaxing experience! After a long night of smelling rotten egg coming from Simons mouth and my poor man running up and down to the hole in the floor for a toilet..

On the second night we were greeted by the amazing family of Don Pedro. They welcomed us with a chicken dinner a warm fire to toast marshmallows and a show of typical Guatemalan song and dance put on by the grand kids.

Topping off the amazing trip was an early morning hike beginning at 4:30am. This time armed with floor mats and sleeping bags, we get in position to watch another spectacular sunrise above the lake! With a bottle of Quetzaltenango's finest liquor bottle circulating to keep us warm under the stars while we all enjoyed waiting the beautiful rays of the sun to greet us good morning.
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Moira & Russell on

Loving your blogs and photo's Tash. Great you're meeting the locals as well. The countryside and views are breathtaking.

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