Volcano In Masaya
22 October 2007 | Masaya, Nicaragua
Volcanoes have always intrigued me and I continue to find them fascinating. They exhibit the greatness and raw power of Mother Nature, and greatly affect millions of people living in various parts of the world. Central America is packed and scattered with volcanoes, one of which steeply towers over Grenada, Masaya, and Managua. Best of all is the fact that the volcano is still alive and well, which made for a great day of exploration and excitement.
I left the sleepy and mellow hostel early in the morning. I opened my creaky wood door with no plan, intention, or agenda for the day. In fact, the only reason I got up and walked outside was to pay a visit to the shared banos across the way. I knew I wanted to visit the volcano, but was waiting for a weather window to go through with it. A small outdoor courtyard was located just outside my closet sized room, and shined bright and alive with brilliant sunshine. I squinted as I slowly slugged my way across the courtyard in my boxer shorts and bed head hairdo. Well, I guess I'll hit that volcano today.
I packed my small Northface pack, grabbed my water, and headed out for a quick and cheap breakfast of rice, beans, eggs, and coffee. Make that two cups of coffee please, I am climbing a volcano today. Volcano Masaya stands just over 1000 meters high and is easily accessible from the Interamericana highway, the main road that connects Grenada, Masaya, and Managua. I jumped on the expresso bus and asked the driver to drop me off at the Volcano park entrance, about 30 minutes outside of town. The expresso bus is the fast bus, and fast they go. They are drastically underpowered diesel buses that seat approximately 20 people, but somehow make room for 30, along with all the junk each passenger brings along. Once the bus gets up to speed they generally don't slow down for anything or anyone. So, they habitually blast the horn as they race past side streets, warning pedestrians that they are coming. So, if you hear a horn in Nicaragua, get the hell to the side of the road.
The hike to the top of the peak was incredible and provided stunning views of the lava flows, crater, and surrounding nature. Despite it being a 7 kilometer uphill battle, I enjoyed every minute of it. I proudly reached the summit in 1 hour and 46 minutes which included a short stop at the visitor museum which was entirely in Spanish. Obviously I didn't stay long there and hit the road quickly thereafter. The crater emits smoke, gases, and ash that would make any person nervous, including me. Nicaragua simply doesn't have safety standards to that of the U.S, so entering at your own risk took on an entirely new meaning. In fact one sign at the top instructs people to hide under their cars if rocks or lava shoot out of the crater. Sweet. Andrew aint got no car to hide under...just a backpack full of bananas and granola bars.
I was shocked by the rawness of the crater and the intense activity. I was able to walk right up to the side of the crater and look down into the scary, deep hole. If only I had a ring to throw inside and free the world of all evil.
I devoured two bananas, three granola bars, and a can of fruit juice for lunch and sat at the top for a few hours enjoying the natural pyrotechnic show. The walk back down was actually worse as my left big toe has been giving me problems since I blasted it on a piece of concrete when walking home a few nights ago...the same toe involved in a minor bowling accident last January. Sometimes you just never get a break.
I made it back to Grenada in time for a quick dinner and fell fast asleep to images of lava rock, exotic plants, and plumes of white smoke.