Friday, October 26, 2012

Buzzards and Babes

I have finally figured out that Picassa does not really like videos, and that the upload rates for videos  is glacial.  I think that I will find another way around this, and in the meantime I have been posting vids to my Facebook page.  I was particularly fascinated with the dancing horses from last week, and I am sure that my cousins, who may or may not be reading this blog, will appreciate the prancing ponies.  Notice that my last shot was of a very pretty Guatemalan senorita. Have I mentioned that the Guatemalan women are beautiful?

On Thursday, in the afternoon, I joined two of my friends and a bunch of travellers on a visit to a nearby volcano.  I was not Volcan de Fuego, which is close to Antigua, and in fact can be seen smoking outside of my window, nor was it Volcan de Agua, which sits directly south of town, and serves as a landmark for me when I get lost and confused...

Volcan de Fuego..this guy is active and periodically puffs out some fumes and reminds the Antiguans of their mortality.

This is Volcan de Agua.  When he last blew his top, he dumped a huge amount of ash and lava on folks, as well as flooded nearby peublos.  Hence "agua" is another constant reminder to the locals about the inpermanence of life.  I think that these two also serve as reminders that there is a Higher Power that is more permanent, and I am slowly beginning to comprehend the depth of spirituality which is part and parcel of the psyche of the Central American people.

We left Antingua in the afternoon, and travelled for about 2 hours by microbus towards the  newest volcano in the area.  I have lost the name, but I think it was Panachul, or close to it.  We travelled close to Guatemala city and eventually parked the bus in a national park, at which point we began a very rigorous trek up the volcano.

 Here are my two friends, Betty and Sithitha, whom I will be riding with for awhile.  We met on the Baja ferry...

These guys are the "Buzzards" a name I coined to describe their persistant and unyielding efforts to get me to hire a horse.  It was clear that they saw in the old guy a good chance for some dinero, and I was immediately targetted as the first to fall, or perhaps the first to have a jammer.  They were right in that I was by far the slowest getting up the mountain, and certainly I lost about 10 pounds in sweat and angst, but they did not know how stubborn I could be.  The more that they persisted in harranguing me for a "taxi, meester", the more pissed I became.  I did not blow up at them, but I came very close.  After a couple of miles, I think they realized that they were either going to carry a gringo out feet first or not at all, but I was not going to hire a horse to do what I should be able to do..My friend Betty, who has 10 years on me quietly trudged along, and Sithitha, to his credit kept her company.  I huffed and puffed for almost two hours, but I eventually convinced the cowboys and their steeds that I wanted no part of their offers.. proud, stubborn and stupid is a hard mix to beat.

I thought that I haven't taken my high blood pressure pills in a month, and in fact I don't think I still have them, so if I am going to have a jammer, it is probably a good thing that I am not on a horse so that I can fall off and hurt myself.

This guy was the first to accost me, and he and his horse became my shadow for a few miles.  I eventually convinced him that Buzzards circle around dead meat, and that I was very much alive and prepared to go up feet first.  He did his thing by continuing to offer his horse as a taxi ride, and kidded my along.  Guys trying to make a buck, but they did not get the issues involved, which of course were the Babes....

Far below we could see a variety of peublos and larger cities.  I had no idea where we were in relation to Antigua.  I thought that if she blows, it won't matter anyway...

Here we are getting closer to the top.  It started raining, and it seems that no one, except me, likes the rain, or is at least familiar with the rain.  All of the young bucks and bunnies scattered for cover..

It was interesting to see the beginnings of plant life, as the flora began to take back the soil and begin to green up the lava-strewn mountain side.

Getting closer to the top..

One solitary, burnt and dead tree to remind us of the devastation of a recent explosion, two years ago..

We were losing light quickly, so it was a scramble to the landing area over rough lava paths..not for horses or old men...

This is as close as we got to the crater. It was quite apparent that there were heavy things cooking inside that crater.

 And the Babes...our guide had brought some marshmallows, and the kids preceded to cook marshmallows over a vent in the volcano.  A good bunch of travellers, well-experienced in surfing Australia, trance-dancing in Berlin, and mountain climbing in New Zealand.

There was a mother daughter- team in the mix, and I was immediately smitten by the Mom side of the team.  She is a beauty, and to top off all of my good kharma, she was also a doctora.  I was hoping at least that I would pass out for a bit so that a little heart massage and mouth to mouth could be administered for the benefit of the old guy.  My fantasies were leaping over tall rocks and mighty chasms until she told me that she was an OBYGN...Sigh...double Sigh..
It was a wonderful diversion from Spanish verbs, an interesting peek at the lives of young travellers who can run up mountains, drink beer all night and live in crowded hostels.   When I think back on my youthful travels, I recognize that I opted for too much beer and not enough travelling, but what the heck, I made it this far...