1 September 2018: After a somewhat over enthusiastic 05.00 am start from the trekking agency, we began our walk up to the Santiaguito mirador (viewpoint). Santiaguito means “Little Saint”. On the way up we had the path all to ourselves pretty much, but on the way down, there was a little more life as we passed a few groups of local people walking upwards, some dressed in the brightly coloured local clothes, others carrying their goods on their heads and others more focused on herding their wildlife further up the side of the volcano. Everyone greeted us individually with a very friendly “Buenos dias!” and a big smile to boot.
When we first arrived at the viewpoint, slightly disappointingly, we didn’t have any view at all as the cloud had come down and completely obscured both the Santiaguito volcano as well as her larger sister volcano, Santa Maria, from which the Santiaguito volcano had been created about 100 years or so ago. But with a bit of patience and while we waited for the kettle to boil (literally: our trekking agency had brought a camping stove and various drinks and snacks with them which was brilliant), the clouds did clear and we were able to get some relatively good views of the surrounding area.
Now you see it, now you don’t…..
Unfortunately, despite Santiaguito being a highly active volcano with eruptions apparently as frequently as every 30 to 60 minutes, she didn’t put on a show for us that day but still it was a good hike and a good opportunity to get a bit closer to some of these beautiful volcanoes that encircle Xela.