Ever since our bicycle trip, I have been hoping some crazy and wayward travelers would pass by where I was staying and I would be able to offer them some hospitality. After trips like that, perhaps one of the most profound realizations about the world is that, it´s not so dangerous after all. In fact, most people are quite helpful. All you have to do is ask!
So, last week, the day before Halloween, Nathan and Aaron Cooper showed up in town.
This is what they looked like. This is at the hill of the cross. Photo courtesy of Valerie.
I was waiting in Parque Central when they showed up, but motorcycles loaded down with stuff isn´t all that uncommon in Guatemala, so everytime I heard what I thought was a motorcycle, I turned my head.
We settled in, and thankfully two rooms at my homestay´s house were open for them to stay for the week. These rooms typically have Austrians, Germans, Koreans, Norwiegiens, Americans, or Guatemalans living in them for any period of one night to a year.
I haven´t hung out with Nathan all that much in a while, and I´ve really never been around Aaron. Together they make a hilarious combination that is loud and laughs a lot. Having them here was some of the most fun I have had the entire semester.
We talked about what we wanted to do the next day, and I profusely apologized for the lack of being able to see Volcan de Fuego erupt, as it was pretty cloudy the whole time they were here. Nathan really wanted to ride their motorcycles to the top of an erupting Volcano. I wasn´t so sure that was either safe, or possible, but we decided it was worth a try.
Wednesday morning, on Halloween, we headed to Volcan de Pacaya, an active volcano, but one that is not currently erupting. This is the volcano I ran a half marathon up last year, which is still one of the craziest things that I have ever done.
This is a view from above. We came up from the other side.
We hopped on their motorcycles. I rode on the back of Aaron´s motorcycle and LOVED it. As much as I love motorcycles, there is nothing like going really fast, and feeling the air moving past you as you ride. It was just brilliantly fun. A wild ride, and, of course I was wearing a helmet.
We were hoping we could drive the motorbikes up the volcano, but unfortunately, the closer we got, the less likely this looked possible. We went up one way, only to find a trail that didn´t look big enough to enter with motorcycles, and a local guy telling us that it was a really bad idea to go up that way. We would have to go up another way.
We then went to another entrance, where a guard told us we weren´t allowed to take the bikes in, but that we could pay and hike up from there. From past experience, I knew there was another spot where we could go a little higher thatn where we currently were. We drove around and parked at the entrance. At this point, no less than 5 people had told us that we couldn´t go up the volcano without a guide. By the end of the trip this number was over ten.
Everyone at the entrance gawked at us as we pulled up, as we were, quite literally, the only people there. We asked the guy at the entrance if it was possible to go up without a guide and he said, yeah, of course, if you know the way. You just have to sign these papers saying that you agreed to go up without a guide and if you die, you are held responsible, not us.
Since you have to sign these things to do things like field trips and paintballing, we quickly signed and hiked up.
Once we cleared the tree line, we were determined to get to the top. We kept heading up. And up. And up. We looked around and could see clouds, and that was about it. On top of the volcano it feels like you are on another planet except you can still breathe oxygen.
On the way up 4 police officers told us that we needed a guide to be there, with which we responded with things like ¨Where is the ATM?¨ or ¨Where are the chocobananos?¨ or ¨We should have brought the motorcycles up here.¨ We even joked with one of the police officers that if we would have bribed him he would have let us enter the park with the motos. He said something like, ¨Well yeah, of course you could have done that. Why didn´t you?¨
We kept hiking up and were determined to go to the top of the cone and look down. As we were getting to the very demanding and steep part, similar to what you remember from Lord of the Rings. In fact, it did rather look like Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings. Something a lot more beautiful than this.
Speaking of Lord of the Rings, when we got closer to the top, some small Guatemalan man bearing a wooden staff showed up, warning us something that was, quite literally ¨You shall not pass.¨ Since this man didn´t look very much like Gandalf the wizard, and didn´t have any sort of badge, we argued for about ten minutes as to exactly why we weren´t allowed to ¨subir¨or ¨to go up¨the volcano.
After much harrasment, he said, ¨Okay, you can go ahead and pass. But do you guys have a cigarette?¨ To which we were like, ¨what are you talking about?¨, and continued up the volcano.
We made it to the top. And it was terrifying. I am hoping that Nathan will retell this account on their blog at endurobros.com , so that you can read his account of it as well. We made it, and it was so scary looking down in. All I could think of was that it was about to erupt and kill us all. Thankfully, I thought wrong, but it was enough that I was yelling at Nathan for perching precariously at the lip of a volcano with a pit going down with no visible end.
The mouth of pacaya is best described as an abyss.
There is a very entertaining video Nathan took from the top of the volcano on the EnduroBros Facebook page. You can see the crazy video, and like their page at facebook.com/theendurobros .
And this was the first day the Aaron and Nathan were here. It was awesome.
That night, La Union had a Halloween party. Aaron and Nathan went as Daft Punk in their motorcycle onesies, or jumpsuits, or whatever they called those things.
Valerie and I went as a fisher and an octopus. It was by far the best costume I´ve ever had. Valerie is so much fun!
Fisherman and Octopus. Don´t worry Spring Arbor, that´s an empty bottle of Sasparilla! You can see the EnduroBros behind us. We made the Octopus costume ourself out of a purple sweatshirt, some foam, and a lot of staples! Photo courtesy of La Union Spanish School
Not to be let down after the Volcano, the next day, All Saints Day, Valerie, Aaron, Nathan and I headed to Sumpango for their incredible kite Festival.
Again, there is another awesome video of the kite festival on the EnduroBros Facebook page.
This had kites that were over 50 feet tall, and just absolutely beautiful. People work on these yearround, and they are made out of bamboo and tissue paper. Here is a picture of Val and I at the Kite Festival.
The Kite Festival! I think flying kites on November 1st is a tradition I shall try to remember to do next year!
Altogether, it was an awesome blessing to have Aaron and Nathan Cooper come through town. Ride on, EnduroBros!
Please, visit their website at http://www.endurobros.com
Or, simply like them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/theendurobros
As always, if you are interested in how I am here, and an amazing scholarship to help students study abroad, visit http://www.iie.org/GILMAN .
Thanks for reading.