“No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied — it speaks in silence to the very core of your being”. —-Ansel Adams
Around 10:30, five hours after starting our hike up the dark and slippery path of the Santa Maria Volcano we had finally arrived at her pointed peak. The clouds had started to form and blanket the valley of Xela thousands of miles below. Yet fortunately they hadn’t fully conquered the peak. There was still a spectacular view of the surrounding volcanoes and valley beneath.
As we approached our resting spot for an early lunch I was perplexed by a low humming sound. The sound of voices, high and low, big and small, filled up the empty open space around me. As we come closer to the noise I realized with amazement that it was a human chain of chanting. The Mayans were singing their prayers to their gods. The voices of their chants flowed smoothly together making a monotonous tone at times, entrancing me and captivating my soul.
Although I don’t see myself as a religious person, I was completely in awe of the beauty of the Mayans prayers. I could have stood there watching them and letting their melodic, rhythmic prayers relax my soul. Yet to stand and stare would have been extremely rude. So I gave them their space and followed my guide Lico over to the southern edge.
Just as I was about to take out my sandwich I heard the first unusual, mysterious sound. This time it wasn’t being made by man but by nature. The rumblings started as a low, distant grumble and quickly became more intense and loud. To my complete amazement, a few thousand feet below us lay an active volcano, Santiaguito, which was beginning to erupt.
The active volcano awaits….Santiaguito (2,488m) on Santa Maria’s southwest flank.
Should I have been worried that Santigauito’s 1902 eruption was the fourth largest eruption of the 20th century?
Here are the photos I took while the eruption unfolded (if only I knew how to use my video feature on my camera!) Notice also that I was playing around with different settings which explains the variation in color and vividness of the scene.
Here is my first sight of Santiaguito from my perch on a rock atop Santa Maria volcano. I had no idea that this baby was going to erupt so you can imagine my complete shock, surprise and delight when it did, right before my eyes.
After the first low rumblings, a tiny little burst of ashes arose….slowly into the sky.
Off in the far distance you can see the ocean which is only an hour and a half drive away from Xela.
The perfect plumb…I think this one is my favorite!
Reaching to the sky….
The poetry of the earth is never dead. ~John Keats
After a final last plumb of smoke drifted into the air, I captured this last photo of the volcano’s magical eruption. Wow. For once in my life I was utterly speechless.
And just as quickly as the eruption came, it left and the wind picked up dragging the ash and smoke off into the distance as if it had never been there at all. Then, there was silence. No chanting. No words. Nothing. Except utter peace.
Stay tuned…the last post in this series is on the descent where Lico and I end up trailing the Mayan group for a bit and witness their pilgrimage.