Being a city girl means certain things I am not accustom to doing, like I don’t know… hiking up an active volcano. But when your crazy, spontaneous boyfriend says, it’s cool and we should do it because that’s what traveling is all about, you start to wonder, what experiences do I have hiking?
Oh, that’s easy, none!
In the city, we don’t have hiking trails we have long city blocks, we don’t have mountains we have skyscrapers, we don’t have nature we have concrete. The most experience I have hiking is climbing up the NYC subway steps. Hey, no judging, this is a judge free post!
But yet I’m about to hike up a recently erupted volcano in Guatemala, called Pacaya.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a very active life during my adolescent years and played sports up until college.
But is there really anything that can prepare you for a 2 hour hike up an active volcano?
So needless to say, I was a “little” concern about climbing Pacaya. Ben’s experience in hiking and climbing things didn’t help my self-esteem either.
In my head that meant he could do it and I couldn’t, which is a big problem to my anything-you-can-do, I-can-do -better pride.
If his skinny ass can do it, a city girl like myself can do it too.
So I accepted the challenge, poor Ben, he didn’t even know he was being challenged. I even made a “Climbing Pacaya Proclamation”. It went something like this, I Jasmine, the city girl can tackle the Pacaya Volcano without quitting or complaining. Regardless of my inexperience, I will not back down and make it to the top of Pacaya without breaking a sweat, you got this.”
Yeah, I take challenges seriously like that.
So, the day came and we were off. Water packed, hoodies on, and hiking boots made for walking. With my NY state of mind, I was ready to make Pacaya my bitch, so I thought.
When we got to the entrance of the park, we were bombarded by little kids selling walking sticks for 5 Guatemalan quetzales.
“Oh shit, is the hike really that bad that people need walking sticks“. I bought one anyway, just in case. It’s not like it was expensive, it was only 25 cents.
And of course, Ben didn’t get one. Show-off.
At the foot of the volcano, our tour guide told us two things that made me think that climbing Pacaya would be way harder than I expected:
1.The guys with the horses following along will offer Taxi rides up the volcano for Q100 just in case anyone feels like they can’t walk any further.
2. Though we have only 3 scheduled breaks, if anyone feels like they need a break please, let us know and we will stop immediately. We don’t want anyone to pass out.
I immediately thought why the hell would I pay money to hike a trail and not do it and then pay an additional Q100 to ride a horse and make the poor horse do the climbing for me. I wouldn’t and I didn’t have plans to do so while climbing Pacaya either.
Sure enough, ten minutes into our hike, a woman in our tour group said she couldn’t walk anymore and opted for the horse.
I couldn’t see why she need the horse, because the hike wasn’t so bad. But clearly she thought differently. But then half way into the hike I started feeling the burn! I was sweating like a pig, and praying for the next break.
My pride won’t let me ask for a break because I was determined to not be the person slowing down the group so I kept pushing myself.
But then I got to the point where the breathing techniques I was trying to do weren’t cutting it anymore, the hoodie I had on was making me sweat more than I had too and the damn walking stick wasn’t helping at all. I was starting to lose my breath and my heart was beating uncontrollably fast.
Sucking up my pride, I asked the tour guide for a break. I couldn’t do it anymore. No matter what though, I knew I wasn’t going to wimp out and take a horse the rest of the way. If I made it half way without a horse, I’m damn sure I can make it the rest of the way without one.
After our five minute break and some water in my system, I was rejuvenated and ready to finish what I started and after an hour of extra hiking I did just that. I made it to the top feeling like Rocky when he made it to the top of the steps.
The CITY GIRL from NYC had conquered the Pacaya Volcano and made it her bitch! Not really, actually I made it my friend.
As they say hard work pays off. The view at the top of the volcano was gorgeous. I had an eagle’s eye view of the picturesque area and the two surrounding volcanoes, Volcano de Agua (Water Volcano) and Volcano de Fuego (Fire Volcano).
Though we didn’t get to see lava, we were able to roast marshmallows on the volcano’s steam vents and one of the best parts was “skiing” down the volcano at the end. Scary but fun when you get the hang of it.
But the ultimate reward was being able to say I did it. Knowing I worked my ass off to accomplishing something made the victory that much sweeter. Though it was my pride that got me to the top of the volcano, it showed me that I can chose my on battles and conquer them too.
So if you ever get to the point where you think you can’t do something, think again! Regardless of where you come from or what experience you have, there is nothing you can’t do if you try and put your mind to it.
Location: Between Antigua and Guatemala City in Guatemala
Cost: $15-20 USD
Company: Every tour company in Antigua and Guatemala City offers the tour for pretty much the same price.
Have ever climbed up an active volcano? Tell us about your most awesome volcano experience in the comments below.