Santa Maria volcano, Xela, Guatemala

One time I went to Guatemala to visit a friend who was in the Peace Corps.  I thought it would be a great idea to let her plan our entire vacation and there was one moment where I really regretted that decision.

We stayed in Xela (Quetzaltenango) which was about an hour from Santa Maria, an active volcano with a hiking path.  I knew that we were going to go hiking but I wasn’t quite sure when or what it would entail.  It turns out, this hike required:

– Waking up at 3AM
– Taking a cab for an hour in the dark to the middle of nowhere and being dropped off on a dirt road.
– Looking in the direction I thought the volcano might be and only seeing darkness
– Walking toward the darkness armed with my friends and my little headlight
– Hiking for 2 hours and suddenly popping up just over the tree tops as the sun began to rise over Xela
– Getting about 15 minutes from the top of the volcano and just trying to power through the park of rocks covering the top
– Finally getting to the top of Santa Maria and being blown away by the beauty.  There were volcanoes as far as the eye could see, the sun was shining, the clouds were beneath us and a baby volcano that was smoking just a few miles from Santa Maria.

As much as I regretted letting my friend plan this trip, this was the moment that I knew it was a great idea.  Waking up at 3AM was not fun but it was 100% worth the hike, seeing the sunrise over Xela and seeing more volcanos than I have in my entire life.

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