Wednesday, June 20, 2012

conquering volcanos... and the real reason for being there

this is the last part of my volunteer site visit. i also went mango hunting and witnessed a cock fight.

last monday during my volunteer visit we went to plan with vicente, one of zac's counterparts.  he lived slightly inland up a dirt road where he has a small farm.  according to zac, he is a farmer by morning and experienced teacher by afternoon.  it was evident that vicente had his ducks in a row because we showed up and he already had a good idea of what we were going to talk about. prototypes and providers and he wanted to teach it a certain way. we offered a few suggestions and then finalized the plan.  from what i have seen, co-planning is not always this easy and can be one of the more frustrating aspects of the job at times.  i was glad to see that there are times when things do work out and there is a good relationship between PCV and local counterparts.  we went to class later in the day and everything went pretty much as planned.

vicente showed us around his farm after we finished planning.  he had all kinds of different plants growing.  plantains, avocado, passion fruit, coconuts, etc. we cut down some coconuts and had a taller de coco (coconut workshop) where he deftly demostrated how to use the machete to cut open just the top of the coconut in order to drink the water inside and then to use one of the pieces cut off as a spoon to scoop out the meat.  it was awesome.  we threw around some ideas of things he could do with all of his products, specifically making coconut oil.  he was very interested and we decided to investigate the process later in the day. unfortunately, i didn't bring my camera to take pictures of the taller. next time.
our guide was super excited to
show us this dead snake

this massive tree along the path.
it apparently used to be 30m tall
but was buried after the eruption
in the 40s. it still was pretty tall.
tuesday, class was canceled due to the counterpart (not vicente), so we decided to hike the taller of the two volcanos on the island.  originally we had planned on just hiking up to a lookout at 1,000m, but we ran into a group led by a guide that zac knew, so we tagged along.  the volcano is 1,610m tall and it took us about 2 hours to hike up to the look out through the dense forest at the base of the volcano.  i hadn't exercised in several days because i had the gripe (cold) the week before, so it was fun jumping back into physical activity.

the start of the real hike
from the lookout it took us another two hours to reach the summit.  this part of the trail was less of a trail and more just forging our way up the steep face of the volcano.  a lot of the way was with loose volcanic rocks and a few times climbing up larger rocks.  it was definitely a good challenge.  my quad started cramping up about half way up this part, but i was able to stick it out after a little bit of stretching.  our guide, ronmel, said it was probably better that it was cloudy as we climbed because when it isn't, a lot of people freak out from looking down to the base of the volcano.  considering how steep the rock face was, i can definitely understand how that could happen.

butterfly along the path

at the mirador
the start of things to come
it seems that every time i climb a mountain it is cloudy when i reach the summit, and this was no exception.  we were told that the crater was just over the ledge, but all we could really see was clouds. the summit had a strong smell of sulfur and rocks were very warm to the touch as we scrambled around in the windy conditions. after a few minutes we climbed back down to have a quick snack and then descended.  it took us about another 4 hours to get all the way down.  during that time we were rained on quite a bit, but luckily after the super steep and difficult part of the descent. to celebrate our accomplishment, we ate delicious pizza in town that evening and treated our guide to a meal.  it was some of the best pizza i have ever eaten. or maybe i just was super hungry and pizza is a good comfort food for me.
near the summit
apparently just over this ledge we would find the crater.
the whole group
on the way down 
this may be a bit dramatic, but it was steep
the clouds opened up a bit and we could see down to the lake!

looking back up into the mist

 on the way to the island we took a ferry, but on the way back we took a lancha because the next ferry left too late for us to get back to our training towns.  the boat looked about 25% as safe as the ferry, yet still seemed to be floating, so we hopped on board and gladly paid half the price to return. it was funny because everyone was just sitting on the deck of the boat for an hour.  it really felt like a scene from a movie.

just chilling for an hour. nbd.
this guy in blue was high as a kite, and i was waiting for him to fall off.  he didn't though.
the boat we took did not look like this at all. this was a cruise liner in comparison. i just took it for the name. 

the captain still took his job very seriously. don't worry mom.

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