“I don’t know
I don’t know
I don’t know where I’m a gonna go
When the volcano blow…”
We arrived safely to Guatemala and began getting settled in. We arrived very tired from the overnight travel and we were happy to get “home” after a wonderful morning visit to the children’s home, Hope for Tomorrow, in Guatemala City. Our villa exceeded our expectations. It was large, safe, beautifully decorated and close to the main plaza and the open-air market. After a very helpful walking tour of Antigua, we made several trips to the market, tried out our Spanish and found a few favorite places to walk and shop. Laney lead the way in negotiating purchases at the market. Her Spanish comprehension was essential. Although Anne and I had figured out how to ask a few important questions (like “Cuanto Queste?” means “How much does this cost?”) those questions were not very useful when we couldn’t understand the answers! Laney was unflappable and deciphered the fast numerical answers so we could make a few purchases.
On Monday morning we met a woman who worked at the embassy in Guatemala City. She was spending the holiday weekend in Antigua with her children. While Laney and Lee enjoyed swimming with her son and daughter, we discussed various topics including that there had been some activity on neighboring Volcano Fuego – a volcano we had admired the day before while walking around town. She was pleased to hear that we had registered with the US State Department STEP (Safe Traveler Enrollment Program) so would receive occasional alerts and emails regarding hazards or developments in the countries we were visiting. It turns out, that her responsibilities included drafting some of the alerts.
Last night as we returned home from dinner and resumed a competitive game of RISK that had taken place over the previous 2 days – I checked my email to find an EMERGENCY ALERT from the US Embassy in Guatemala City. It advised that the Fuego Volcano continued to experience high levels of seismic activity including explosions. Volcanic ash was reaching up to 10 kilometers (we are 8 miles away). It advised us to monitor local and international media and follow local emergency instructions, carry our travel documents with us and notify friends and family with updates of our whereabouts.
Wow. Things were getting weird. I wasn’t sure whether we were about to experience the Guatemalan equivalent of Mt. St Helen’s (or worse yet, Pompeii) or this was the equivalent of a routine Ky. tornado watch. An event that created lots of talk, worked the meteorologists into a frenzy and, MOST of the time, resulted in little real damage or injury.
Suffice to say, we survived the night. No huge ash cloud descended upon us. Lava didn’t run down the streets. We’ll continue to keep an eye on Fuego – from a distance. In the meantime, we are continuing to discover what is unique and different about Guatemala. And we are planning an up-close visit this weekend to Volcano Pacaya – a more benign, but active, volcano in the vicinity.