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UCSC-UCLA team hikes Volcan Pacaya, arrives in Antigua, surveys first site | Nourish International

June 25, 2014 | Posted in 2014, Guatemala, Summer Projects, UCLA, UCSC | By

On our way to Antigua, we took a side trip to hike volcan Pacaya. Though we intended to start the hike at 3:30 p.m. to see the sunset from the top, we did not get started until 6:30 p.m. Oh Guate time! So, under black skies and pouring rain we began our ascent. For those that were prepared for a sunny hike, plastic bags served as raincoats over shorts and Vans.

UCLA-UCSC team on Volcan Pacaya

The team atop volcan Pacaya.

When we reached the peak 4 km later, the rain stopped and we found a warm pocket where everyone eagerly jumped in to get warm. Our guide Manuel also took us to steam vents where we could see active lava flowing down the mountain and he pulled out a bag of marshmallows for us to roast. The moment was as spectacular as the view. (Side note: Anna thought the marshmallows tasted different because they were made in Guatemala or because they were cooked with volcanic heat – in reality, they were just flavored. Hahaha) At 1 a.m. we checked into Hostel La Quinta and some immediately jumped into a warm shower while others quickly fell asleep.

On Saturday we worked hard on the workshops we’ll be conducting. Because we’ll be teaching about certain herbs and vegetables, we did a lot of research on planting, maintaining, selling, and cooking with them, as well as their medicinal uses. That night we hit the town to celebrate Marisa’s birthday. Marisa selected Dona Luisa Xicoteneatl for dinner because it was recommended for its pastries and great deals on food. And it certainly delivered – Marisa rang in 23 with delicious German chocolate cake. After dinner we discovered that the bars and clubs in Antigua close at 10:30 p.m. so instead of dancing the night away we went to Monoloco and chatted until it closed.


Feliz cumpleanos Marisa!

To close out the weekend, we worked on our workshops on Sunday and toured the town. We found Rainbow Cafe  to be a great place for Wi-Fi, food, and live music. At night the team bonded over several rounds of Loteria, during which we practiced Spanish vocabulary, got to know the hostel’s night guard, Don Jose, and saw our partner architect, Alejandro, being interviewed on TV!

Though we were ready and anxious to go to our first site Monday morning, a protest was occurring so we would have had to walk a dangerous 15 km to the site. To err on the side of caution, the project partner canceled the trip and we continued to work on our lesson plans and check out the city. On Tuesday we were excited to finally go to Sumpango. We met three of the women from the cooperative and surveyed the structure we’ll be turning into a greenhouse. We also got to help with the vermicomposting process at the cooperative and see the herbs that the women are already growing.

Juan Pablo and Viviana

Juan Pablo and Viviana talk to the team about the few herbs they are currently growing outside of a greenhouse.

Now that we have a feel for the property, we’ll return tomorrow to begin construction!

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