Monday, March 7, 2016

Adios y Gracias Quetzel Trekkers

I have been lucky to have done many diverse things in this life. My time with QT is now near the top of personal accomplishments. The days were incredibly long, I was constantly dirty, sweating, and dealing with the burn of the hot Nica sun. There were interesting challenges along the trail and the swarms of bees while trying to pee at the ranger station. Never once did I have a moment where I thought, "this sucks", I mean never! Get out there, suffer a bit while climbing that volcano and then look around. This is no mobile device. The view is the real and therapeutic.

I was toying with the idea of staying on at Quetzel Trekkers for a while longer and while discussing it with a few people I came to the conclusion that it was time to go. I think it is better to leave while a bit melancholic (I had to look that word up) then leave when I was happy. I have reached my best fore date and it is time to toss away the dirty, nasty, ripped and volcano beaten clothing. With that, yesterday was my final hike with Quetzel Trekkers. During my pre-hike talk I mentioned to the guest that this was going to be my final hike and thanked them for being a part of it. When taking the photo below they started shouting for me to get in front and strike a pose. It was a nice moment of support from complete strangers. Thank you to Kathi and Ken2 for assisting me on this final hike and giving me center state. This is always a team effort.

Final hike up Cerro Negro with a large group of anxious volcano boarders

I want to thank Mitch, Megan, Carina, Chichara, Erlan, Eric, Rolando, Caro, Kathi, Grace, Kieran, Jake, Christian, Halle, Ben, Ken2, Teresa, Sophie, Lotta, Theo, Ipalito, Bismark, Victor, Caña, Cerro Negro, Telica, Momotombo, San Cristobal, El Hoyo, Las Pilas, and Coseguina. This was nothing without all of you.

Now that is a crew!
There has been heat, wind, dirt, face scratching scree, sweat, dirty clothes, destroyed shoes, great bonfires, snakes, spiders, lizards, sunsets, sun rises, volcanic eruptions with lava flows, sleepless nights, more stars than thought possible, back breaking hikes, the gathering of firewood (with confused looks), Moon rises and moonlit hikes. The long frustrating waits to check out at La Union, the never ending chopping of vegetables, the notorious QT veggies burrito / veggie sandwich, way to much water consumed and the moments you realize you had forgotten supplies. Of course Caña was always there protecting us or we were tripping over her.

There were vegans, lactose intolerant, gluten free and celiac. Bragging personal trainers who learned that they were not in the shape they thought. There were tears, long rests and puking hikers. Great meals and betters stories. Hikers you thought would crush the trail and did not and hikers who you thought would suffer and leading the way.

In the end there were always smiles, a knowing sense of accomplishment, long hugs and a sincere thank you. The tipping cow was fed and our beer supply intact. The was the battle for hiker supremacy on Trip Adviser and bragging rights for the moment.

Ipaulito. The coolest driver with QT
To any future volunteers that may read this and think "hell yeah, this is for me". DO IT! but know what you are getting into. Write the email, have the interview and get on a plane. In order to maximize your time my only words of advice from experience are the following. Get involved, get sweaty and dirty, be helpful, smile, enjoy yourself, do not bitch about unimportant things, take in the views, learn something, be completely open minded and flexible and be fully aware while being involved with the hikes and projects. Finally, bear in mind that this is NOT ABOUT YOU. If you can understand what that means then you will have a experience that can never be replaced.

Finally, the nerd in me has kept some stats. There has been 291 hikers on 41 hikes from 25 Countries.

HikersUSA 55, Canada 55, Holland 38,Germany 32, France 24, England 20, Sweden 12, Switzerland 9, Australia 10, Finland 8, New Zealand 3, Spain 3, Israel 3, Belgium 4, Costa Rica 2, Ireland 2, Lithuania 2, Italy 2, Austria 1, Belize 1, Denmark 1, Greece 1, India 1, Scotland 1, Turkey 1

Cerro Negro 25, El Hoyo 9, Telica 5, San Cristobal 1, Coseguina 1

From these hikes and the incredible people I was able to meet and talk with I created a list of observations. They are generalizations but were consistent across all hikes.

In the best shape / healthiest - Swiss
Most out of shape/ unhealthiest - Americans
Biggest complainers - Americans
Most questions - Germans
Never shut the fu** up - French
Quietest - Belgians
Loudest - Everyone compared to the Belgians
Cheeriest - Dutch
Friendliest - Dutch
Tallest - Dutch
Most appreciative/sincerest - Dutch, Swedes
Best post trip hugs. Dutch woman
Quickest post hike beer (either at the ranger station or La Paz Centro)  - Canadians, Australians
Strongest Hikers - Swiss
Weakest Hikers - Americans
Rudest without really realizing it- French
Calmest - Swedes, Finns
Flashiest gear - Americans, Swiss
Best tippers - Americans
First to talk Politics - Americans
First to ignore political talk - Everyone Else
Biggest trouble makers in a fun way- British (Including Irish, Scottish and English)
First to ask for a discount - Anyone under the age of 23 because they are "soooo broke"
First to need help on a hike - Anyone under the age of 23 because it is "soooo hard"
First to offer help with the hike - Canadians, Americans, Swedes, Finns,
First to let us know something could be done better - Germans

Best recipe - banana pancakes
2 medium/large bananas 
2 eggs
1 tbsp peanut or almond butter

Mash up 2 bananas in bowl until it's mush. Stir in the peanut butter and 2 eggs. Add a little cinnamon to the batter. Then mix it all up ! Oil a pan and make amazing pancakes. I like to add honey and lavender on top when they're done. But it's a healthy and delicious alternative to pancakes !!! 

And with that I say "Peace Out" QT

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