Jessica Boettner – Summer 2015 (Guatemala)

**Describe an obstacle that you overcame today. Did you rely on your fellow volunteers or did you rely on yourself to overcome?**

Today, I hiked to Pacaya Volcano with seven of my fellow volunteers. You rise 7,500 ft in elevation and it takes 1 hour to complete at a decent pace. The trail does not have the extreme zig-zags the trails in the United States have that make the elevation climb easier. Instead, you rise uphill constantly through a handful of turns with little breaks. It was difficult for me. Many times during the climb I questioned if I could make it, but I had my fellow volunteers and the guides pushing me forward. During the hike, 3 natives follow you with horses and encourage you to pay to ride the horse instead of struggle up the volcano. It was difficult to resist, and three of my fellow volunteers gave into the temptation to just enjoy the climb up. Thus, with no more horses available I had to finish the climb. However, I was appreciative of this because you have more motivation to do what you have to verses what you choose to. It was funny because when anyone would ask if I was okay, I would smile and respond “Im hiking up a volcano, I’m amazing.” I was the last one to reach the end, where marshmallows were to be roasted on the hot rocks. It took me an hour and seven minutes to complete, but it filled me with so much pride. While roasting marshmallows we were surrounded by bees which was terrifying. Then we had to go down the volcano, which is more my expertise. I raced with the guide and he showed me the really fun but difficult shortcuts. Overall the experience was exhilarating. I love my group. We joke and tease each other, but we are also there for each other. I am a competitive and stubborn; therefore, I relied on myself to achieve my goal. However, without my fellow volunteer´s support the challenging hike would have been exponentially more difficult.

-Jessica Boettner

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