Sunday is our day off from classes, and we didn’t have much planned.
We tried a popular local restaurant, Pollo Campero, and despite the extreme popularity of this place, we felt like it was a subpar Swiss Chalet. The chicken wasn’t too good, and other than chicken there wasn’t anything else on the menu. The fried chicken was alright, but the grilled chicken was so so. Probably the first time, we really thought about Swiss Chalet.
For the afternoon, we signed up for a hike up Pacaya, one of several active volcanoes in the area. It was one of those “easy to do” type of trips for tourists, minimal activity required and easily arranged at a cheap price. Transportation to/from and guide costs $8USD a person! After an hour drive, we were at the foothills of the volcano. Once off the shuttle, we were hounded by young kids selling us walking sticks, and older kids asking if we’d like to ride horses. We kindly refused both, but later regretted our decision…. The sticks were only $1USD, and it seems like a lot of help for the locals as they don’t have much income….
As you start the hike up, the kids with horses follow closely behind you, and the second you stop to take a break they ride next to you and ask if you’d like to rent the horse. The bestest part though, is that the prices start to increase the higher you walk!!! Ha ha, reverse economics and definitely a jerk move, but most people realize that their athletic ability couldn’t really handle the hike up after a bit. Shortly during our climb, we were a bit disappointed with the weather as the clouds came in and smothered the whole volcano, including us!
At the top, you get to walk around the crusted lava that has cooled off from the 2010 eruption on Pacaya! The first time reaching a volcano, it was an interesting experience as the rock formations and everything made it felt very alien from anything you’d usually see. And at certain spots, cracks in the lava crust give off some pretty intense heat because some meters below the surface, molten lava is still flowing!?!? This was when our guide dropped his backpack and whipped out….. a bag of marshmallows!! Haha, we were roasting marshmallows with lava. Awesome!
The views were breathtaking, as the sun started to set amidst the clouds behind us, we were actually ABOVE the clouds (which we walked through), which was pretty surreal. Definitely a half-day well spent!
And even better, we found this Thai restaurant that served some decent curry/pad thai! Another great day in Antigua!