Today we climbed Volcan Pacaya (With other volunteers Maddy, Doug, Kate, Simon and Shana). When we arrived at the car park at the bottom we were swamped by children selling sticks and guys trying to hire horses. It was like a scene out of a zombie movie, the bus was surrounded and some of the kids even clung onto the side of the bus as it was reversing!!
Once we had fought our way through the kids and horses we made our way up the volcano with our guide who looked like a very frail man of 80. It was a steep climb and although Ian was "totally fine", it wasn't long before a lot of us were puffing and panting. Behind us, the men with the horses were following us, taunting us with offers of riding up ($12!!), "Taxi!", "Are you tired?", "You must be tired by now", "These horses are very strong". Thankfully our need to save money and determination to walk all the way up won over and we didn´t give in to their pleas.
We were walking most of the way in cloud, so we could have been climbing any mountain! But when we broke through the cloud we were faced with the sight of the volcano's crater, it was an incredible view! Oh...did I mention that Pacaya is very active?!! The feeling of awe soon gave way to frustration as we clambered our way up the last 100 meters. It was all scree and for every 2 steps forward we slipped back 1, it was a seriously hard part of the climb! It was worth it though, when we got up to the top (30 meters from the crater) we started to see the lava and molten rocks cascading down only a few meters from where everyone was standing. It was scary but amazing!! We even ate some marshmallows that Doug had roasted on one of the rocks. He made us eat them, saying "I melted my trainers to get you these!!".
As amazing as the lava was the view over the three other volcanos, which was astounding! We were above the clouds and the sunset made it seem almost heavenly! I have never seen a view quite like it.
After several photos and oohs and ahhs, we made our way, in the pitch black, down a very narrow, steep and slippery slope. Occasionally you heard "!?$!!" come out of the darkness as someone lost their footing (including me...several times!!).
We were exhausted when we got home and covered in mud and dust, but it was worth every minute and something we will never forget!