Just back from an awesome unanticipated “Hat Trick of the Americas” where we celebrated Winter Solstice with a full moon and full lunar eclipse on Volcan Pacaya. We traded our ascent of Volcan Aqua for the opportunity to camp out to catch the eclipse and it was well worth it!
Before last summer, Pacaya looked like the volcano that any child would draw. Then one day, with a massive eruption that brought Guatemala to a stand still, everything changed and now Pacaya’s cone is split into two halves. The sides of the volcano were inundated with three feet of pumice stone, ash, and lava and the towns around the volcano are stills reeling from the effects.
We hiked up through lush vegetation until we reached the lunar zone. We dropped our bags at our camp and then explored higher on the flanks, even stopping to roast marshmallows over one of the steam vents. As the sun dropped, so did the temperature and we appreciated sitting by the fire. We hoped for the skies to clear and went off to our tents to catch a few winks. We arose at midnight to find clouds streaming over the moon but we thought we perceived its roundness being compromised by shadow. Over the next few hours, as the clouds allowed, we watched in wonder as the moon was obscured. Just as the moon was being fully eclipsed and turning to pumpkin, the clouds parted and we could watch the sky in its full glory.
We lingered for awhile under the orange moon then turned in. This morning we welcomed the return of light to lands north of the equator and especially to the sides of our tent (as the sun brings the warmth here). We hiked down and are now preparing to go learn how coffee is grown and processed here.