Week 71 – Volcanic Activity

Nicaragua, a country that’s flying under the radar of many tourists, was our next vacation spot. We didn’t know much about it, we chose our itinerary kinda randomly, and we did not expect much.

Our first stop, the beach town of San Juan del Sur, didn’t offer much more than a string of seaside bars.

We moved on to Ometepe Island on Lake Nicaragua. Upon disembarking from the ferry, I assembled my Brompton and gave it a twirl around the island, while Julie headed to the B&B by taxi.

The island is formed by two volcanoes, one active and one extinct. Both of them are hike-able. Because I discovered a craving for outdoor adventures, dormant until coming to Latin America, I decided to hike the highest of the two volcanos: Concepcion. Julie, wise as ever, opted for a massage instead.
My guide Edgar and I started off at 6:30 am. He walked briskly, too briskly for me, so I had to remind him of my age. For the first half hour the path was moderately inclined. Then it became very steep and stayed like this until the very top. The difference was in the environment: dry forest, rain forest, shrubs, and finally, just lava rocks. Half way up we stepped into fog and it stayed with us until half way down. When I reached the top it was cold, windy and foggy: I could not see anything. The reward did not match the effort. Then there was the descent. If going up was difficult, going down was painful. It took a couple of days for my knees to calm down after the hike.

Besides the hike, we didn’t do much else there. This island, with its laid back atmosphere, invites to dozing off in a hammock while listening to birds chirping, dining on the terrace of our B&B while watching the sunset or reading with the full moon over our heads.

Although we went kayaking for a few hours in Rio Istián during our stay there.

After a few days on the island we returned to the mainland and settled, if only for a few days, in Granada, a colorful colonial town. While there, we walked around aimlessly, ate good food, took power naps, got some sun at the pool; it is quite nice not to hurry anywhere.

I, however, had a plan: to cycle to the top of Masaya Volcano. The road is paved all the way up to the crater and it’s only 635 masl, so why not? About an hour and half after I left Granada I arrived at the entrance of Masaya National Park. Much to my dismay I was not allowed to cycle up to the crater. Together with Julie, who came over by chicken bus, we were shuttled up instead. It’s an active volcano, the last eruption was two years ago and you can hear the lava gurgling down there; that’s why they don’t want people wandering around unaccompanied. On one hand I was deprived of bragging rights, on the other hand I was saved the pain going up a steep incline.

On the way back Julie stopped at Masaya market and I swung by Laguna de Apoyo.

The week went by quickly. We were smitten by this country with its laid back vibe, pleasant cities, and natural setting that has yet to be overrun with tourists. By the way, Nicaragua has great incentives for retirees who want to relocate here. Hmm…

This week in numbers:

112 km – distance cycled
1610 m – the height of Concepcion Volcano I hiked
50 – the number of volcanos in Nicaragua
7 – volcanos are considered active