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How I Became a Volcano Vixen: Recognize When to Seize Opportunities in Life

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Hiking up a volcano on a beautiful paradise tropical island off the coast of Nicaragua on NYE/New Year's Day is exactly where I intended to be when I booked my GAdventures fascinating tour to Central America, and traveled to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala!

However, plans changed and I came to realize that hiking up Volcano Concepcion or Volcano Madera while in Nicaragua wasn't going to happen for several reasons. It rained the day before making these extreme hikes now dangerous, especially for a beginner volcano hiker like myself. I was also sleep deprived and exhausted from waking up at 3:30am the night before, not to mention that I had come down with sinus cold and cough. So we continued on with our tour to El Salvador and I learned of Volcano Santa Ana or Volcan Santa Ana, as it is referred to in the country. This was going to be it, the volcano hike that I'd conquer!

So while relaxing at the beach resort at El Zonte, El Salvador, waiting for my lunch and enjoying my iced watermelon drink, I discussed the activity options for the next few days, with Martin, our GAdventures Tour guide. Martin informed me that he didn't think anyone else from the group was interested in the volcano hike. Right then and there, I couldn't hold back the tears and just started to cry with other traveler friends, Scott and Mattia, there to witness it. The absolute thought of going on this group tour and coming home not hiking at least one volcano wasn't even a possibility for me.

Martin explained to me that it would be about $100 for the transportation van because it was 1.5 - 2 hour drive one way. I told Martin I didn't care how much it would cost because I came on this tour for this reason, and I told everyone back home how I was going to earn my Volcano Vixen name. Martin, now realizing how seriously committed I was to this hike, said he would come with me and made the arrangements for the van for the next day. I couldn't thank Martin enough for joining me on this hike, for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

After my conversation with Martin, I then turned to Scott and Mattia and said, "Where are my Volcano Hikers? I don't understand. This is the Volcano Trail tour through Central America. You're supposed to be my Volcano Hikers." We laughed altogether as I finished making my case.

The very next day, I became Volcano Vixen! I conquered hiking Volcan Santa Ana, the highest active volcano in El Salvador! Most unbelievable and breathtaking experience hiking up from the bottom all the way to the crater of the volcano at 7,700 ft up then looking down into the crater and then looking out over the valley and at the other volcanoes! It's a nature hike trail for the majority of it around the volcano is zig zag rather than straight up. Then when you get closer to the peak it becomes a more difficult incline of charcoal gray lava rocks. Altogether it was about 11k hiking distance or about 7 miles and easy to moderately difficult hiking overall. We finished in 4.5 hrs, which includes 30 minutes at the crater with a refreshing cooler breeze. It was unlike anything else I've ever seen in my life! So very grateful for my GAdventures Tour guide, Martin, joining me on this hike, as if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have had this experience, because the other travelers were scuba diving or relaxing at the beach. So beyond happy! This volcano hike and the ziplining experience made this trip everything I had hoped for and wanted!

In life, it's about speaking up and seizing the opportunities you desire. Be Brave, Be Unstoppable, Be Fierce! Namaste!

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Originally posted February 2013 on Courageous & Remarkable Self blog.

For more by Sarina Tomel, click here.

Sarina is currently working on her first book, Courageous & Remarkable Self: Take Risks, Live More Intentionally, and Travel the World Fearlessly!