I have heard a lot of stories about Pacaya. One of the most active volcanos has tempted me for a long time. I wanted to see it for real. Locals got used to it; they worship it and hate it at the same time. They are not daunted by the scream of sirens announcing a new eruption and evacuation anymore. They just pack their things and leave their homes, it’s been natural to them. They know that they will be back in a week or so. Their houses are guarded by a couple of guys with shot guns, so they have no choice but to hope that their house will survive the eruption.
I am going up the volcano, horses from nearby farm are running around me. I am getting higher and higher. Locals put there a sign saying Zone de riesgo – Danger zone. I have always thought I will see red lava on the top, but it is not here. The silence is interrupted only by the hiss of gas escaping from the ground. I feel like Pacaya is watching me. The powerful Pacaya which has claimed so many lives, so far. I am here, on the top, feeling so small.
It is funny to observe tourists alongside locals. Locals got used to Pacaya, they don’t pay attention to it unless there is an eruption. But you can sense the tension in the air. And tourists? Pacaya brought them here. It allures them by its unpredictability. Pacaya gives jobs to locals, it attracts tourists, but it threatens them, steals their lives at the same time. The kids are playing, adults are working, tourists are having a good time and Pacaya is biding its time.