Another sunny weekend during the canicula, another chance to do a great day hike near the city, so we did a lovely hike up Pacaya Volcano with some friends from the embassy. The canicula is supposed to last around 10 days in July, it's like an Indian-summer-slash-dry-spell during the rainy season, but it hasn't really rained for a month and the farmers are freaking out now that it's looking more like a mini drought.
We left town around 9am to drive out west to the little town of San Vicente and up the flanks of Pacaya. The mountain was out of the clouds all day long for us. The hike uphill took us about an hour, the littlest one of our group was two and he did so great, maybe because Muñeca the caballa was helping to entertain him. The trail was dusty and dry and we stopped at all the requisite rest stops: looking at the lake, talking about the geothermal power plant, looking at Volcan de Agua, talking about the plant named "oja de queso" which also makes great TP, stopping for bananas, feeding the peels to the horse, buying cookies for the marshmallow roast, and hearing the spiel at the Lava Store at the top of the trail. And then it was time to roast marshmallows!
In the crater below Cerro Chino are a few vents that radiate heat from the lava waaaaaaaaay down below. It's been deemed safe to walk on and isn't so hot that you feel like your face is melting while you're watching your marshmallow toast. ALL the stores along the road in town and all the little snack vendors on the way up the mountain sold marshmallows so our guide bought us a bag and carried it up. We bought some Chiky cookies (little butter wafers with chocolate on one side) to go with them and they made some of the best S'mores ever. The rocky vent was small but it was the perfect hot little oven to give the marshmallows a golden brown toast. We cooked them 6 at a time on our multi-pronged stick while trying to keep the little one at a safe distance. A couple stray dogs hung around eating the dropped crumbs and licking off the stick as soon as we set it down.
The hike down the mountain was dusty but quick and painless. It was about 2pm by then and we were hungry so we stopped at Lai Lai for Chinese lunch on our way back to the city. They sold their hot sauce for Q25 ($3.50) per bottle and we couldn't get enough of it - delicious smokey hotness that it was. Back in town by 5pm for a relaxed Saturday evening in our cozy apartamento and maybe even a soak in the hot tub on the roof. Yep, I think we might miss Guate when we leave.