Granddaddy of All Volcanoes
01 November 2007 | El Viejo, Nicaragua
As a little planning and luck would have it, I met up with Chris and Julie in Leon, Nicaragua and had the pleasure of traveling with them for a few days. They just returned from a nice weekend on Lake Nicaragua and had a great time together. Most important is the fact that it was without me getting the way, eating all the peanut butter, and putting things in the wrong place! We were excited to see each other and met in front of the large church at around 6 pm.
After saying our excited hellos, Chris said, "So dude, do you want to sleep on a volcano tomorrow night?" Well, I was planning on sleeping in my bed back on the boat, but what the heck right? Best of all was the fact that it was Chris' birthday (won't say how old!) and he was really excited about it, so we all went for it. The trek up to the volcano's crater was nothing short of a breeze, with uphill climbs, thick jungle bush, and 3000 feet of elevation change over the course of the 6 mile hike. We managed to summit the crater, and it was simply breathtaking. Volcano Masaya was exciting, but this volcano (Tarica) towered over it in size, excitement, and violence.
We camped just below the actual crater in small tents, comfy enough for two, although slept three. Upon summiting the volcano we quickly walked up to the crater's edge, which down-right terrifying. The edge looked incredibly unstable and shot straight down for what seemed like a thousand feet. Most horrifying was the smoking rock, strong gases, and red glowing lava at the crater's bottom. Approaching the edge was so dodgy that it required us to crawl on our hands and knees, in fear of falling in to a devil's death. We snapped our pictures, giggled about falling in, and quickly retreated back to the campsite. Darkness fell with a mixture of fog, steam and smoke from the volcano. We couldn't have asked for a more spooky Halloween night!! We visited the crater one last time after dark and "ooooooed" and "awwwwed" at the bright red lava bubbling down below. Witnessing a highly active volcano is one thing, but peering down into its bowels at the dark of night was totally over the top.
The next morning we gazed at the peak with beautiful clear skies, and watched the sun rise adjacent to its peak. The hike down was obviously easier than the hike up, but still long, sweaty, and especially dirty. We managed to bus back to Leon, hitch another few chicken buses, and arrived back at the boat safe and sound. We are currently tied up in Marina Puesta Del Sol, which is located just north of Corinto. It is a truly spectacular marina with gorgeous grounds, an infinity pool, and comfortable restaurant. We plan on shoving off in the next day or so, and hope to make Puerto Madera, Mexico our next stop. I am anxious to continue moving north and diving into some fresh guacamole, fried tortilla chips, and a cold Negra Modelo.