Riding to meet Mitch and Taylor from Lake Atitlan towards Antigua I received a message from Mitch explaining that they were kicked out of their campsite in town by the local police and it was uncertain if we could stay in Antigua. Apparently there was a restroom emergency, yet no nearby public bathrooms, in which there was an accident behind the their car. It was obviously going to be cleaned up, but there wasn’t time as a large police regiment had witnessed the whole event. They collected passports and chastised all three of them for the accident. After a while they even threatened deportation and a fine for the accident. While rather funny, it was upsetting to hear that the police didn’t understand an accident when they clearly saw the issue. Fortunately they were able to stay in the town but needed to relocate to a nearby hostel. Which turned out to be a lot of fun for the lot of us.
Meeting back up with Mitch and Taylor was exciting and felt like a little bit of home and comfort. They were the only regular site so far in my trip, so we shared hugs and stories as we made plans for the next few days. Antigua is a very popular tourist town with large amounts of textiles and other goods for sale. We explored the city for a bit, but the main reason for us to be there was to hike the nearby volcano, Acatenango. This would be a two day hike in which we would be adjacent to Volcan Fuego, which is an extremely active volcano. If we were lucky, we might see a few eruptions.
The start of our hike was wet and foggy, leaving the chances for seeing the volcano slim to none. It was a strenuous hike, but I always find a way to distract myself and within the first hour I was annoying everyone as I smiled and ran with my gear the whole time without tiring or needing water. The young guide embraced this as we would race each other through the thin trails and deep fog followed by a pause to wait for the rest of the group. This continued on until the 4 hour hike up was finished with the sky clearing and small eruptions from Fuego. We all cheered as we witnessed small spurts of lava into the sky while setting up camp.
Over the next few hours, as the sun began to set, the small eruptions began to string together and grow in power. Soon it sounded like continuous thunder as we watched lava being thrown hundreds of feet into the night sky. We were in for quite a show throughout the cold night. Around 2 am I woke up and couldn’t sleep due to the cold. Rather than struggle, I simply wrapped up in my sleeping and watched the wrath of nature above the sleeping cities until it was time to hike to the summit for the sunrise.
Our trek to the top was a bit slower and more strenuous as it was all ash. One of the girls in our group started to get elevation sickness and others were very tired. With only a 100 meters or so left to the summit, we were forced to turn away due to toxicity levels. It would have been a disappointment if it were not for the beautiful sunrise and increased eruption of Fuego. It had reached its peak and was putting on a glorious display in the morning sun, We all stopped to quickly pose for a few photos along the dark ash with the impressive background before getting back to camp and hiking home. The hike home was quick as three of us with the guide were running down the mountain.
During our hike we made several friends and decided it was best to celebrate one of the girls turning 21 by throwing a big party. 100 beers, beer pong, card games, and random shenanigans were held late into the night until we were kicked from the hostel and into a bar. I don’t do this often, but it was a fun way to let loose and enjoy the 6 different cultures of people.
Back to Atitlan
Mitch proposed that I stay with them for a few more days rather than saying goodbye in Antigua. I was hesitant since I had already been to Lago Atitlan, but they were great company and my birthday was in a few days. Might as well celebrate with some good company, so we convoyed on the way to a nice campsite area on the lake. I laughed as I drove through the ditches to avoid traffic that they had to sit in. Sure they had A/C, but I am happy with the adventures the bike can take me to.
Our campsite was on a secure compound with 3 large German Shepherds and all the passion fruit one could eat. I couldn’t have been happier! Dogs to play with and free fruit; it was a good way to finish year 28. Over the next few days we would swim in the lake, play with our cameras, chat with other overlanders, and explore neighboring towns with the use of a water taxi. It was a very relaxing vacation during my vacation, but after 4 days we were ready to see more of the world. It was time to convoy together, once again, to El Salvador. Just before reaching the border we decided to satisfy Taylor’s Taco Bell love in a Guatemalan town. This was hard to do, but ultimately I was able to speak a small amount of Spanish to properly learn directions to Taco Bell. I felt amazing to finally utilize another language fully and understand the answers. I decided then that I would continue my studies and continue to improve my Spanish. I want to master it.