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Hiking up Santa Maria

sunny 19 °C
View Guatemalan Medical Trip/Language Immersion on dredayhurray's travel map.


This is Santa Maria. It looks pretty tame in this picture, but that is because it was taken at the bottom of the mountain after our hike.


This is a photo from Guatemala Impressoniste on Facebook that shows its scale. It is a pretty decent size at 12,375 ft and you start at 9,000 ft, making it around 4,000 ft in elevation gain and it was 13.1 miles round trip. What makes it more difficult is the slippery gravel, you have to be cognizant of where you put your feet. It is also recommended that you go in a group and with a guide, because in the past there have been robberies. We asked how these robberies in the past used to go down, and our guide Killian said that usually a group of men with machetes shows up and says to put your bags down. Luckily, this hasn't happened in over a year thanks to some police effort. It was tricky previously, because all groups of farmers carry machetes to chop weeds and overgrowth, so you can't tell in advance whether it is robbers or not. However, none of that came to be and we climbed without issue.


This is our cute little group. There were six of us from Pop Wuj (1 artist, 5 med students), Eduardo (originally from Venezuela but a US resident on vacation), and our two guides Killian (Germany) and Brianna (Austria). The group we went with was through Quetzltrekkers, which uses volunteers from all over the world as guides. The guides are unpaid, they live in a hotel with 4 to a room, and do it for the experience and helping the community. All money (cien porciento 100%) goes to schools in the area. You tip the guides to pay them. It is very cheap. They also pack all vegan food which is included. It was two of our med students first hike every and they did it with such positivity, and even to me, who has hiked much higher than 12k feet, it was a challenge.


This is us halfway up and already sweaty. We left at 4 am from our houses and took a taxi that was left up to me to arrange because I have the most Spanish (talking on the telephone in Spanish is still very hard for me). We left Quetzltrekkers at 5 am and arrived at the base at 6 am. We were walking with Mayans (who I do not take photos of for respect as it is said to steal the soul and cause mal de ojo (evil eye)) who climb the mountain in order to be closer to god. They bring god flowers, and set them on the top while they pray. It is truly gorgeous and I recommend going so you can see for yourself.


These are the views from the top. It was pretty cloudy so we didn't get the eagle eye views, but I was content with this.


Our group at the top.


And like always, there were volcano dogs. This one became ours. In my head I named him Pepo and thought about bringing him back to the US and how mad my husband would be. He seemed to be doing pretty well for himself, his ribs were not showing, but his eyes showed that he had seen some things in his life. I wasn't the only one loving the dog and that the locals were saying, "look at that, it is the American's dog!" The picture below is Eduardo feeding and watering him.


On our way down! This is me appreciating the view. We arrived back to Xela by Chicken Bus. On our way back, the guides bought us the common chocofrutas. I got chocobanana, which is my favorite frozen fruit covered in chocolate and nuts. We walked back to our respective home-stays, showered off thick ingrained layers of volcanic dirt and met back up at Cafe Positano, which is an Italian restaurant in the city. I cheated on plant based diet and got pesto lasagna. Two other students met up with us as well. We had a beautiful dinner with absolutely no phones, lots of laughter, and lots of carb reloading.

Half of the group today is going back to a different volcano. I myself am not energetic, so I have been walking around the city. I am writing this from El Cuartito, a beautiful cafe off central park. I got the best soy hot chocolate of my life. It is an art cafe, and it is filled with half tourists, half locals. I plan to go to Yoga Casa tonight to stretch out a bit. I hope everyone is enjoying their lives, wherever they are.

I myself am very, very grateful. Next week we start in clinic. Hasta Luego! - Drea

Posted by dredayhurray 09:23 Archived in Guatemala Tagged volcano friends dinner santa el maria cuartito quetzltrekkers

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