Shredding The (Volcanic) Gnar

Trip Start Oct 08, 2009
Trip End Nov 13, 2009

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Where I stayed
Lazybones Hostel

Flag of Nicaragua  , León,
Monday, November 2, 2009

Today we woke up early and were the last two to make it on a volcano
sandboarding trip. We had tried to sign up yesterday, but all the
companies were either closed or full. We went with Tierra Tours and it
cost about $30. After hopping in a Gringomobile, we stopped at a market
for some fruit and then to pick up our boards. At this point, we had to
decide whether we wanted to sit on the board or get a more
snowboard-like contraption that strapped onto your feet. Since Iīd been
sandboarding before, and was terrible at it, I opted for the sled so I
could go fast. Or so I thought. Teddy was brave and decided he wanted
to try to stand up on a board for the first time.. on volcanic rock.
Only good things to come, of course. It took us about an hour to get to
Cerro Negro (Black Hill), the youngest and most active volcano in
Nicaragua. We drove past fields of yucca, peanuts, corn, and soybeans,
as well as some of the poorest houses weīve seen. There were several
communities of houses built with sticks and plastic bags as walls. Our
guide told us that these families made their money by cutting down wood
in the national park and selling it in Leon. He wasnīt sure whether it
was illegal or not. Regardless, it looked like a really tough life.

Compared to other vplcanoes weīve seen, Cerro Negro was pretty tiny.
But it still looked really cool because the entire surface was black
volcanic rock, as opposed to other, bigger ones that have foliage and
stuff on the sides. Now it was time to actually pick out our boards.
The first one he handed out was a sitting one. Our guide said that he
needed the strongest and bravest guy to take it, since it was brand new
and could go really fast. Teddy was snowboarding, so he was out. And
the rest of the guys in our group were European, so they were out. So,
when nobody stepped forward and with me being the moron I am, I
volunteered. Biggest, bravest guy? Check and check. Then we started a
steep but short ascent up the slippery rock. It was kind of hard
because we had to carry our boards. We eventually reached a stopping
point where we were allowed to go down into the volcano a little bit
and play in the sulphuric fumes. Probs not great for our health, but we
enjoyed taking some excellent jumpy pix there.

We kept climbing along the rim of the volcano and eventually reached
the point from which weīd be boarding. We left our boards there and
climbed to the top of the rim so we could look into the crater of the
volcano, which last erupted in 1999. Needless to say, we also took some
ridic jumping-into-the-crater pix. Then it was time for the boarding.
We put on kneepads, elbow pads, goggles, wrist guards, and gloves. The
slope was looking pretty steep, and pretty scary. It was about a 40
degree slant of volcanic sand and rock. We were both kind of regretting
our decisions. I decided I wanted to board down (it looked way more fun
than sandboarding in Peru), and Teddy was pretty terrified to do it,
seeing as he had never snowboarded or surfed or anything before. I
asked our guide if I could take his (our guideīs) board, seeing as he
had a snowboard and does this everyday. But, he was pretty rude about
it and wouldnīt let me switch. I didnīt really expect him to, but he
didnīt have to lecture me for like twenty minutes about how I changed
my mind. Uh, did you not notice Iīm a girl?

After I realized I couldnīt switch, I began to be terrified about how
my board was the ultra fast ultra elite one. All the other sitters went
down (going pretty fast!), then it was my turn. I was all ready to
rock, having listened to the speeches he had given to the other people
and seeing everybody else survive. But, nope, I got a special speech.
Homeboy told me that this board was incredibly fast and incredibly
dangerous and that he had seen people go down on it in 20 seconds. He
also said that since I was small I might have to stand up and pull on
the rope when I ĻinevitablyĻ would get out of control. And about a
billion other things that I should or shouldnīt do so I didnīt die. I
was pretty much terrified when he finished. I wish I could say I threw
all his advice to the wind and went down crazy fast, but I am trying to
run an honest business here. So, here it is: I crawled. Not literally,
but I went really really slow, digging my feet into the sand and
screaming the whole way (nobody else so much as whimpered). Eventually,
I got the hang of it and started to go faster, and it turned out to be
really fun. But I in no way used the board to its potential. Oh well,
at least I still have all my limbs.

Then it was time for the snowboarders to go. I was at the bottom by the
time I could see them, and Ted was actually doing really well! (Damn
those natural athletes.) You couldnīt really carve like on a snowboard,
but you went down facing the mountain, kind of going back and forth
across the hill. Our guide came down really fast, doing all these fancy
turns, and then I realized he hadnīt wanted to give me his board bec he
wanted to show off for the hot Nica girl that was on our trip. Men.
Since he was so far ahead of Ted and the other girl who snowboarded,
however, I asked him if I could take his board and hike up a little to
try it out. This, he let me do, probs so that the Nica girl would see
other people sucking and realize how good he was. I hiked up a little
way (pretty tough in sand) and strapped in and came down with mild
success. It was pretty fun, and actually (kinda sorta maybe not but
just a little bit) made me excited to go back and ski and snowboard in
Breck this winter. Uh, wait, I just thought about wind and cold and
scraping off my windshield. Maybe I take that back. Teddy, after doing
so well, really wanted to go again. He also realized that snowboarding
is a ridiculous workout. Major bonus points for getting him to move to
Breck! I also told him that if he does move to Breck, he could tell
everyone he shredded a volcano. Screw knowing math, history, who our
President is, or any type or real knowledge, shred cred will get you
everywhere in Summit County.

We headed back to the van, and our guide started harassing me about how
I must have relatives in Central America or Mexico somewhere. This
happens often, and usually I quickly explain that I am half-Japanese
and thatīs why I look funny. But, since I was still mad at him for not
letting me take his snowboard, I passively agressively told him that,
no, all my family lives in America. He kept insisting, and so did I.
Not exactly payback, but I felt pretty good about it. On the way out of
the park, we stopped at an extremely bizarre collection of cages. There
were two pythons and a rattlesnake, as well as a giant fenced in area
with about 500 iguanas. The zoo, Nica style? By the time we got back,
we were starving. We found this little place that had a buffet style
setup, but with a lady behind it serving food. We thought it was all
you could eat and were super pumped, but apparently you only get to
come up once. It was a very confusing process trying to figure out how
it all worked, and I was hungry and ended up getting super frustrated
and just threw up my hands and stared at Ted. Mini meltdown during
which I def gave up on my espanol for a moment. Ted wanted me to be
sure I included that since he thinks I donīt bash on myself enough in
the blog. (Ladies, if you want a sensitive one, youīve found your man.)
It was all worth it, however, because we ended up getting a really
yummy typico plate with rice and beans (called gallo pinto here), meat,
and plantain chips, for about $3. And donīt forget the orange soda. For
some reason, we have become absolutely obsessed with orange soda. We
drink it all the time. FYI, in case you come down here, just know that
they are probs lacing the orange soda with crack cocaine. We just
wandered around after that, attempted to go to the art museum again
(closed for Saintīs Day or maybe just we donīt feel like coming to work
day), and sat in a park and ate ice cream. Reason #27 to move down
here: delish ice cream cones are 35 cents! Now weīre planning on a lazy
night (baseball, tear) before bussing it early to Granada tomorrow.

PS. I wanted to explain one thing. I put a lot of prices in the blog,
and I donīt want people to think itīs because Iīm bragging about what
good bargain finders we are or how much money weīre spending or
something. There are two reasons I put prices in the blog. 1. We meet a
lot of travelers who are going the opposite way as us. Instead of
writing down prices, places we stayed, etc, I just give them a link to
the blog and they can find all the companies, etc, in there. I also
know from messages Iīve received that people use blogs to plan trips.
So, I think that prices really help with that.

The second reason is that I want people to know that traveling,
especially in developing countries, is not prohibitively expensive.
Itīs cheaper than sitting at home in the States without a job (we have
met countless people who were laid off and therefore came down here),
and is definitely cheaper than taking a vacation to Florida. For what
you spend in Florida in a week, you could spend three weeks down
here.Maybe a month. Not to mention all the culture and other adventures
you can find in another country, as opposed to Oldieland. And the fact
that a flight down here is about the same price as it is to Florida.
Ok, thereīs my little price explanation and shameless plug for travel
in developing countries. Glad to get it off my chest.
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10asians on

I never would have imagined seeing a quote about Summit County in a travel blog about Nicaragua. Well done! 10 points for the use of a relatively obscure reference. Nice comment about the crack laced orange soda, very hahahilarious. Thanks for including the prices of your travels, not only is it a useful planning tool but it's definitely interesting to see the relative value of food, transportation and lodging.

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