As we parted ways yesterday, Carl suggested that I should visit him in the morrow so he could show me a little more of his Tree and gardening projects. Hmm. Well he threw in another hook. We could climb another Volcano, literally in his backyard that he called ‘My Volcano’. I would figure out why soon enough.

I decided finally to leave Xela and I started from home at 7 AM. It was a real bummer that Ana had a taken a trip out of town and I could not wish her proper goodbyes. But I managed to catch Mark and bid him farewell. I was a bit sad to leave the lovely dogs. Especially Kaya seemed to have attached herself to me and I have a feeling she’s going to be bummed for a bit. I know I would miss her.

It’s hard to describe the generosity that Ana and Mark have shown me, I just wish the deepest regard for their friendship and glad I crossed paths with them. Here’s hoping I would get to meet them again either on the road or the next time I am back in this lovely town.

On to the story of the day, the general idea was to head up to Carl’s place by 9 AM and take it from there. I rode up to the town of San Cristobal Totonicapan and made it to his place just in time. He gave me a nice watermelon juice and a couple of bananas and and said that we would ride up to the trail head and hike up. Now, here is a 67 yearly guy who had recently had heart surgery a day after climbing one volcano. Alright.

Carl led the way up to what he called ‘My Volcano’. In the recent years, he has climbed the hill once every week and picked up trash and I should vouch for it that this is the cleanest trail I have hiked in all of Guatemala. Mark, your advice on following the garbage wouldn’t work here. But hey the trail is pretty obvious and easy to follow. The bike ride up to the trail head was over some steep hills but overall a nice ride thro some really quaint villages. We also had a safe spot to park our bikes at one of Carl’s friend’s house.

The climb was’t too long, about 500m elevation gain, but the forest we walked thro was stunning. Carl talked about the various trees and gave me tons of info on the various varieties growing around there. He had also planted a few treed form another mountain and was planning a bigger free planting project in the next few weeks. Awesome.

There was one steep section along the way, but otherwise it was a gentle hike all the way up. The views from top were pretty looking into all the little hamlets and towns down in the valley. We picked up a bunch of rubbish left by some recent group that had visited. and once we finished with the garbage collection, the trail was absolutely spic and span. Awesome, Nice to be able to give Carl a hand in cleaning up.

We headed down and rode back to his place where he fed me with a huge salad, squash and refried beans. Dang that was a good lunch. I also realised every thing I ate came right out of his vegetable garden!!!

After lunch we walked over to his garden where he was growing some really good collection of veggies that we harvests for his meals all of the time! It was also his flower garden and a really well maintained and beautiful patch of garden. It was late afternoon by this time and he was yet to show me his pride and joy, ‘Bosque Ruderman’.

This was a pretty huge piece of tree garden he had been growing for years, complete with a beautiful tree house in a corner and a lovely circular house in the middle with a loft for me to sleep in for the night.

Carl could name every tree in his garden and there were 101 species in that plot of land and we walked me thro each of them and told me their history and how he got them. Walking with Carl while he was talking about trees was an experience unto itself. Time flies and the amount of passion flowing out of him made me feel pretty sad that I knew nothing about trees apart form the fact that they are usually green and big. But I learnt a bit about some of the treed and I could just enjoy the place he had buildup over the years. I may never be able to build a spot like this, but I could surely appreciate the beauty of this place.

After a long evening of admiring the trees, Carl had to had back home and I decided to spend the evening hanging out in this beautiful garden and sleeping in the loft.

Route: Xela – San Cristobal Totonicapan + Hiking
Distance: 38 km
Ascent: 830 m
Descent: 830 m
Expenses: $ 2.99
Comment: The long and short of this story is that I am barely 5 km outside of Xela still.

Track Notes