My friend Julie and I are currently volunteering for a fair trade women weaving association, which is located in Quetzaltenago (Guatemala). As we have our weekends off, we always plan some trips. Guatemala is known for its volcanoes, that´s why we decided to climb up a volcano – so why not start with the highest in Guatemala and all Central America? Yes why not?! We booked our trip: Climbing up Tajumulco, 4220m. We were both sure that it might be hard, but not impossible.
On Saturday our trip began and at that point we were still relaxed and looking forward to standing on the top of the volcano. Together with our guide and an Irish couple we took a chicken bus. Chicken buses are famous for Guatemala, you see them everywhere.
When our bus was about to leave the bus-stop we realized that our tour guide wasn´t in the bus. We were walking up and down the bus, but he wasn´t there. We were already about to leave the bus when our tour guide came running with some food. The trip could begin. We later changed buses and took a collectivo (minibuses that “collect” and drop off people). The Collectivo had 15 seats available. At some point I was counting 28people in the car. Don´t ask me how they did it- that´s something that can´t be explained in words- you have to see and experience it live. After 2 hours we arrived in… yes, where? I have no clue; we arrived in NOWEHERE.
There were only three run-down houses next to each other. The weather was horrible; it was raining cats and dogs. The scene reminded me a bit of a horror movie- dark; rainy, dusty, run-down!
The toilet there was a challenge itself- I never thought that toilets like this really exist.
Our room was in the basement and was all but luxury: dirty, small and run-down. Anyway, that didn´t matter, we just needed the room to get some hours of sleep. But getting some sleep was harder than I thought- our guide was snoring, the walls of the house were so thin that we could hear every noise of the family upstairs and the rain was pouring against the windows.
At 12 midnight our trip was about to begin- but the rain didn´t stop and we didn´t take appreciate rain-clothes with us. Our guide said that we need to wait until 3a.m. – there were only two options:
1) Rain stops – we go
2) Rain doesn´t stop – we don´t go
After one hour of sleep (our travel guide was still snoring like a champion) we really started our trip, as the rain stopped. It was pitch-dark outside.
After 10min I was already feeling the altitude. My spit tasted a bit like blood and my throat was hurting. I couldn´t imagine that it would take me 4-5 hours longer to get to the top. The couple of Ireland was quite fit and they fast left us behind- struggling, me and my friend Julie set one step in front of another and had to make a break every 10minutes.
And the decision to play football with some guys the day before was maybe not the best idea as my muscles were all sore.
After almost two hours my friend Julie gave up. She couldn´t make one step further. So she decided to turn around and go back to our „Five star luxury hotel“ (she later told me that she had to vomit all the time and slept in the forest, ALONE).
So we were four now- I felt a bit sorry because the others always had to wait for me- but I really wanted to reach the top- if I make a decision, then I also have to accomplish it. The sun was slowly rising and the nature looked incredible. If you looked down you could see clouds everywhere.
This really motivated me and I forced myself to go further and see the view from the top. Then at 4.000m height I couldn´t do anything anymore- I thought I would collapse every second and I had something like an asthma attack. I had to lay myself down and had to wait half an hour until I felt a bit more stable again. The Irish couple thought I would never do it to the top, after they saw me like this. But I was determined- and so I did it- slowly, but I made it, to the top of the highest volcano in Central America. When I reached the top all my pain suddenly disappeared and I just felt happy. The view was amazing. I could see the Pacific Ocean, the border to Mexico and other volcanoes. I couldn´t stop smiling anymore. Here a respect to all people who climbed up such heights, especially to my best friend Sophie, who climbed up the Himalaya.Tweet