29.06.2011 - 29.06.2011 70 °F
Today was my first day of Spanish lessons. My teacher’s name is Helen and she is approximately half my height. One of her first questions to me was, “Where did you learn Spanish?” I laughed out loud. I tried to explain to her that I didn’t actually know Spanish. I think it was clear almost immediately.
I’ll be spending my mornings with Hellen in a small indoor patio conjugating verbs and stumbling over my words in hopes of improving my ability to communicate in Spanish. Hellen is the same age as I am, from what I piece together, I think we’re having a lot of fun.
Today was also Connie’s last day and we decided to take a tour of Volcan Pacaya, which is about an hour outside of Antigua. Volcan Pacaya, we were told, is inactive and had last erupted about a year ago. As we stood in the rain, we were told by our guide, Carlos, that the steep hike would take about an hour. Nearby locals offered horse rides to the top if we were interested, but we decided to make the trek on foot. These locals did not give up that easy. For more than an hour we were followed up the volcano by these men and their horses. Whenever someone stopped to drink some water or catch their breath, we’d hear “Quieres un taxi?” No Carlos, no quiero un taxi.
Experiencing Volcan Pacaya was well worth the work it took to get to the top. Despite clouds blocking our view of the peak and the lava having hardened long ago, the site of this massive volcano was breathtaking. As we wandered through hardened lava flows the temperature increased, we felt rocks hot enough to burn your hand, and (nearly) lit sticks on fire from the heat of steam. It was almost as if we were in an outdoor sauna. Heidi and I were a little (a lot?) disappointed when Carlos didn’t pull marshmallows out of his bag. We saw them in the pictures, Carlos. Where are they? Our hike down was made even more interesting by the thunder claps and multiple metal poles which surrounded us. Author’s note: This description in no way communicates how spectacular it actually was (and I can't get the rest of my pictures to load so you'll just have to imagine it).
And in case you were going to ask: Yes, there is cell service at the top of Volcan Pacaya.
We ended the evening, and Connie’s trip, with an amazing dinner at a restaurant named da Vinci’s. Like many of the restaurants in Antigua, after a short entryway da Vinci’s opens up into a large indoor/outdoor patio. Being that it was still raining and that people seem to stay in to avoid the weather, we had the run of this beautifully decorated restaurant. We ordered cheese fondue and pizza – an amazing choice, as it turns out. And obviously, very typical Guatemalan food…