The email said, "So is anyone interesting in climbing Mt Pacaya, kid friendly (e.g., slowly with lots of breaks and maybe some burros!) the Saturday after Xmas, December 28? Of course, non-kidded adults are welcome too!"
"We're in!" was our reply.
Of course we wanted to climb Mt Pacaya, a classic climb right outside Guatemala City, kids or no kids, we couldn't pass it up.
So we met the group of 24 people, aged a few months to Grandpa and everyone in between. We left at 7:30am (a very reasonable hour to leave for a climb) and drove in a caravan of 6 cars towards the mountain. An easy hour drive later and we picked up 2 guides for Q300, a couple burros for Q100 each, and we were on our way up the trail.
Here's what we learned:
1. Kids love hiking! As long as there are other kids to hang out with.
2. Get a couple burros and let the kids take turns riding them up the mountain. The ones who beg to get on a burro will like it for a while but even horses get old, at which point the ones who were too shy to get on at first are ready for a turn once they see the others survived it.
3. Let the adults take turns carrying the little ones up the mountain, the kid-less adults think it's a fun novelty and the kids will love talking to someone new, even if "talking" means shrieking, poking things in their ears, and giggling when the grownup says funny things.
4. Make sure there are cool things to see along the way, like fruit sellers, volcano-chuchos, lava shooting out the top of the volcano, dirty lava sandboxes to play in, steam vents you can climb in, and trees that grow leaves soft enough to use as toilet paper.
5. Some kids are fast, some kids are slow, and the same goes for the grownups so it all seems to even out in the long run. Plus, it means the grownups get to take lots of breaks, "for the kids" and not feel like wimps!
6. Everyone loves a post-hike meal, including a big "jirafa" of beer (so many tiny bubbles...).