Volcanic Beauty

December 24th, 2009. San Pedro, Guatemala. Every year members of our meditation group organize a trip around Christmas time and people come for different lengths of time or different sections as convenient. This past Christmas we were in beautiful Guatemala, the land of the Mayans.

Our hotel provided a stunning view of a vast deep lake (the site of a giant crater) surrounded by three volcanoes. Few hikers would be able to resist such inviting scenery.

The day before our hike up the safest and easiest volcano (not in terms of explosiveness – it was dormant – but mostly in terms of bandits), located on national park land, we took a boat across the lake to the town at the base of the volcano to scout out the next day’s adventure. Everything was planned and we were ready to go back early the next morning – December 24th.

The 5:30am boat ride across the lake was perhaps the most sublime half hour of the day’s journey. The lake was completely still. The dark vast sky above us was completely full of bright stars. Everything around us was silent except our own boat engine cutting through the night. There were six of us, women, on the boat, fully enjoying the pre-dawn deep stillness over the enchanting lake. To live that beauty a little more we sang Sri Chinmoy’s songs as we glided across the water.

A short taxi ride later we were at the trailhead and after a short meditation we started up the mountain with our guide. On the way up we chomped on some coffee berries from the many coffee plants that lined the trail, we admired the big ripe avocadoes – too far to reach – on the trees above us and we learned how to harvest water from bamboo. In total the hike up took about 4 hours and it was well worth the stunning views from the top.

There were two stray dogs that followed us all the way to the top and we shared our left over food with them after we got back down. We made it back to the hotel by 5:00pm and after a scrumptious meal and some rest we were soon ready to go for a night of Christmas Carols.