Failing Forward

with Daniel Cassadio

Chapter 21 - A Roar of a Thousand Lions

Chapter EntriesDaniel Casadio1 Comment

On the balcony, overlooking the busy and noisy city. Mountains in the background as the sun slowly fades away.

I wrote this blog:

I walk out of the airport to twenty or thirty locals screaming at me, asking if I want a taxi ride. I escape the chaos and hide in the café in attempt to get Wi-Fi. As I walk in, the barista’s, bartenders and chefs yell at me promoting their café and all the good food they’ve got. Well, the context to what they are saying, is all an assumption; I don’t speak Spanish.

One of the employees to where I was going to be volunteering picked me up from the airport and saved me from the crazy taxi drivers.

We arrive at the hotel and I’m getting acquainted with the other workers. As they are introducing me to the hotel and the role I will fill, we were interrupted by a machine gun being fired down the street. Within a few minutes, we hear an ambulance and the police; gang violence. Hola Guatemala.

The view from my balcony.

The view from my balcony.

The hotel is located in one of the most dangerous suburbs in Guatemala City. The people are beautiful, but I need to be careful and do my best not to look like a naïve tourist. The hotel here is a mission base where they host travellers, people on business, etc.; but the money goes straight to their non-for profit helping widows and orphans.

I love the idea of providing a service, with an ongoing income to support a non-for profit. Not just relying on donations from generous people. A project I would love to start up at some point in my life; hopefully soon.

I caught a ‘Chicken Bus’ to and escaped the chaotic capital to a nearby city called Antigua. A beautiful town with colourful houses, rich history, stone streets and beautiful views. I was reading in the park, where a local approached me and we started talking. He needed money to support his family and told me he’s been looking for work.

So I gave him ‘work’; he walked with me around the town and taught me Spanish; I bought him lunch and gave money for his service. It was an awesome exchange and throughout our time together he would often thank me for the opportunity. Just out of the blue. I loved how grateful and genuine he was and we had an awesome time together.

Where my Spanish teacher took me, Spanish lesson with a view.

Where my Spanish teacher took me, Spanish lesson with a view.

The next morning, I was in a van with some other travellers and we driving towards a volcano. To hike. I’ve never been more excited in my life. It was a gruelling and hard hike, we camped from the night at 3,800 meters’ elevation. And our volcano wasn’t active, but the one next to us Volcán de Fuego, translates to Volcano of fire. And it really was. Seeing a volcano actually erupt and seeing steaming hot lava spurting out; was an incredible sight.

And the sound, sounded as if it were a thousand lions roaring with an echo. Something I would never forget. All us travellers had never seen anything like this before and we didn’t know how to cope and our excitement was just us yelling non-sense. Just in absolute awe.  



 When we were trying to get some sleep, the wind really picked up and would smash into our tent. Then we would hear the thousand lions roaring, it was hard to get to sleep. We ‘woke up’ still dark, I think 4 in the morning and our local guide took us to the summit of the mountain. 4,000 meters’ elevation, the wind was even more intense, it was freezing but the sunrise was another thing I would never forget.

I didn’t have much warm clothing, and when I was trying to take photos of the sunset I couldn’t feel my fingers. I had to wrap borrow one of my friends towel to use as a scarf/beanie and some plastic to wrap around my icy hands. The other travellers were freezing as well, and one of them got us all together and then he screamed; “LETS CUDDLE!”. And that we did. We made a tight circle, shoulder to shoulder jumping into each other to keep warm. It was below freezing, but all that agony for that sunrise and view; worth it.

Te amo Guatemala.