“It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves” – Sir Edmund Hillary

Every now and again, when the world feels weary and the air feels heavy, I find it high time to look at my surroundings from a different view. Sometimes when life is grasping at straws and precious moments are few and far between, a vista from above is the answer.

Volcano Sunsets and Sunrises

volcano

The time had come for me just a few days before. And it came in the form of a tremendous volcano, Volcan de Fuego. A monstrous spewing thing that had no qualms about breathing its fiery likeness for all to see. And although, the view from the ground is enticing, nothing is like being there yourself. To see this thing from the heavens was unlike any view I had seen. And perhaps one I may never see again. Try as I might to explain it here, I will never be able to do it justice.

An hour outside Antigua, an unassuming abode comes into view. Hikers are most likely shuttled to one of a few spots that circle the entrance. And while unassuming, it has an air of familiarity about it. You become acquainted with varieties all throughout Central and South America. The structure, tin roof and dirt floors aside, makes an interesting sight before the climb.

The dwellers of course, were always of selling minds and charismatic attitudes. If they had time, they could eventually sell you the very dirt you were standing on. Being in short supply of precious time they had to settle with a compromise. Consequently, they only sold a few measly plastic bags and walking sticks. And so, backpacks on, and one foot in front of the other, we began the ascent. The time had come.

Fire Volcano

The first thing one notices is that your lungs feel as though they are filled with cotton. Every agonizing step forward leaves you gasping for breath that you can never seem to manage to get enough of. Also, add that to the fact that you are carrying upwards of five liters of water, heavy coats, gloves and snow caps, and a certain evasive five-man tent. That, my friend, makes for one fucking difficult climb.

Although all the above mentioned is necessary, the hike is rather less perilous. And while you get many breaks, including lunch, the near vertical ascent seems impossible. Therefore, its based simply on sheer fortitude.

The base camp, being just a few hours from the dwellings, places itself just one hour from the summit. The dormant volcano of Acatenango has the picturesque view of its tumultuous brother across a small valley. It visually and audibly breathes almost every night with the occasional coughing fit. However, in the end it’s almost always the same, with liquid fire running down its spine.

A Guatemalan man died a few years ago at the peak. He froze to death, his last view surely being Volcan de Fuego. The quote by Sir Edmund Hillary was inscribed on the cross in Spanish. It makes you think about how short life is. Furthermore, it also makes me think of the risks we take as humans. The fact that any sane creature would crawl up here in the dead of night is completely illogical. We do the illogical though, us humans. Perhaps, that’s why we can comprehend the meaning of a few simple words on a dead man’s cross.

Comes Recommended

And yes, the climb was exhausting. It was utterly soul-breakingly exhausting. But sometimes, that’s exactly what we need.

-Tmoney out.

*Anyone in Antigua looking for adventure check out Planet Maya on 7th Avenue South. Right next to the Refugio coffee shop. Cheapest bookings in town. Good luck!