For those who are interested in gear reviews, fun trip overviews or climbing stories, this probably isn’t the post for you, but if you’re interested in Brien the person, read on!
As most of you probably know, or have figured out, I live in Guatemala and work as a volcano guide here. I have lived here about 5 months and am going to be here until I start the Pacific Crest Trail in April. There are so many parts of this place I absolutely love, the people, the culture, the take it easy life style, so called chapin time, which is basically just a local excuse for being late. There are serious draw-backs for me and my preferred lifestyle though, I love rock climbing and hiking, and there is very little of that here in Guate. If you search hard enough you can find some spots to climb, please read my other article on the subject of you are interested. Almost more than anything I love snow, the lack there of, combined with the almost total absence of well maintained, or even existent, hiking trails has been wearing on me.
One of the biggest saviors here in Guatemala for me is the access to incredible fruits and vegetables, and all for the cost of a few US Dollars. This combined with my love of cooking has really opened some culinary doors, and learning some of the local dishes and styles has really been a treat! The market here in Antigua is a roughly 2 block area on the west side of town filled with almost everything you could imagine. Fruits, vegetables, fresh hand-made tortillas, machetes, clothing, electronics; there is a small stand here for almost everything. If you know were to shop you can buy a weeks worth of vegetables for two for about Q65 (which is about $9). This freedom to experiment because of low cost of mistakes, and the fact that I have access to fresh, ripened on the plant produce is highly enjoyable for my culinary love. But I can only spend so much time in the kitchen.
I suppose I should backtrack a little bit to give a little better overview of what you’ve missed recently. Well, last time I was really keeping anyone up to date with my life was back when I was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail back in 2015. After finishing I left the relationship I was in and moved in with some wonderful friends, and I had taken a job at a small, but highly popular cafe in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle, WA. For quite a few months I was very happy, I started taking everything I was watching over my shoulder at the cafe and bakery I was working at and practiced, a lot. Before too long I was beginning to learn about bread baking and turning out my own tasty, healthy, beautiful loaves. I studied a lot, if you ever really want to get serious about bread (which everyone should just a little bit) go and follow the teachings of Nicolas Supiot. Anyway, after some time of this, in January to be exact, I met up with Susanna. When we first met and started dating she told me she was moving to Central America and we could date for 9 months, but then she would be leaving and we would break up. Well you can see how well that plan turned out:
So for almost 5 months now I have lived in Guatemala, I spend time cooking, climbing, and oh yeah, guiding! I work as a guide for Volcan Acatenango, the third highest volcano in Central America. It’s been a very rewarding experience working as a guide, but as I’m coming up on my 50th trip up the same mountain in just 4 months, I’m so ready for change. I never really realized how much it sucks to hike on someone else’s schedule. I feel very lucky to have a job where I get paid to play in the outdoors, and for a long while i did everything to just treat it like going to the gym. But man is it wearing on my emotions and general well being. It’s going to be so good to start the PCT in just a little more than 8 weeks! I will be hiking on my own terms, where I want to hike, and in an incredible ever changing scenery.
I am talking with someone here in Antigua about opening a bread bakery with him when I return from my trip this summer, and it’s kind of an appealing option… But I am also seeking funding for a trip to the Karakorum next winter and so I guess we’ll just have to see how that pans out.
Other than that I am planning the Pacific Crest Trail and that is kind of consuming my life. I am so happy with Susanna here that it makes living here more than worth it. But I am almost becoming obsessed with counting almost the hours until I start hiking. Which is intimidating me a little bit. What if it’s not everything I’ve dreamed of? What if I burn out or get bored. I really wasn’t worried about that part when I was supposed to be hiking the trail with someone. But unfortunately neither of the people I have asked to join me are able to. So hopefully I will meet someone on trail. I just have to remember this time to be more patient. Especially because I plan on hiking more miles per day than pretty much anyone who is doing this as their first thru-hike.
I think that pretty much catches you all up on my life! Thanks so much for reading!