From the top of Guatemala’s Acatenango Volcano (13,000’) you can see for a long way. Mexico is to the north; the Pacific is to the west; everywhere there are steep-hilled Mayan villages and fields; there is a handful of smaller volcanoes; and holding it all together finger-like are rambling, off-white Guatemalan cities.
I was on Acatenago this past Tuesday just before dark. There were eight of us, and we had been most of the day climbing. But now, suddenly, we were there, we had summited, and whole of this Guatemalan otherworldliness lay before us.
For a few moments we just stood there as a group looking out in silence. But then a man named Angus, who had spoken little during the climb up, stepped back, threw up his arms, and shouted, “I feel so happy now!”
And at that very moment like purest magic, Fuego, Acatenango’s active twin peak directly to the east, erupted, a magnificent explosion of smoke and molten red lava lifting hundreds of feet up and raining directly down. We could hear the falling, we could see the tumbling, we could see the gathering lava flow glowing like a lady’s broad collar necklace.
But by now, of course, all of our arms are lifted, all of us are shouting and dancing round. For how can we not? We’re on the top of the world, stars just above. We’re shoulder-t0-shoulder with volcanoes and seemingly communicating: One of us had knocked, the door immediately opened, we stepped inside. It’s like we’re kin. Everything is ours and ready made.