Earlier, in my taxi to the center of town, we maneuver through the outskirts. Bicycle taxies roam the streets, juice vendors squeeze refreshments, the ubiquitous motorcycle zooms by, horse-drawn carts carry goods too burdensome for man. From the calm of the periphery, we pass through the crowded shop-lined streets. The market is bustling. Speakers blare dance rhythms, vendors lure in costumers. Taxies, pedestrians, motorcycles, bikes, horse carts: mingle in the streets.
The guy sitting next to me on the bus to Lake Coatepeque sounds like he’s got a bowl of soup in his mouth. Each time he says something I shrug and tell him I don’t understand, but he keeps going anyway. A man standing in the aisle says something in intelligible Spanish that I understand. We drive from Santa Ana through lush green scenery into small towns where people hop on and off. A woman is selling live chicks on the sidewalk that have been dyed pink, yellow, and blue out of a cardboard box. Her face is timid and innocent. I cannot pass judgment.
We have doubts and we haven’t even stopped for lunch—the halfway point. Our packs are heavy, with 5 liters of water, clothes, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tents, cooking supplies. The first hour of the hike up Acatenango Volcano was straight up. It isn’t much better now.
We stop for lunch at our halfway point and everyone throws off their backpacks and collapses on the ground. The lunch that is provided for me is the best thing I’ve ever tasted. There was cheese and spinach and bread, and whatever.