Volcano boarding and on to Grenada

Trip Start Apr 19, 2014
Trip End May 19, 2014

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Flag of Nicaragua  , Granada,
Sunday, April 27, 2014

After a short sleep we were up early. I didn't even unpack my stuff since we were in our hotel room in Leon for less than 6 hours. Breakfast was included at the hotel which was good as it was one less thing to worry about. We had a fried egg with toast and fresh fruit. After checking out of our room our guide met us to take us to the Cerro Negro volcano. The drive out was pretty rough down some very sandy roads right up to the park entrance. After signing into the registry and making one last washroom stop, we were given our boards and a bag with protective gear. The hike up the volcano was totally awesome. The volcano is still active with the last major eruption occurring in 1999. The path up was large black lava rocks which combined with the hot sun radiated a lot of heat. The crater still had pockets of steam coming out and if you dug a few inches below the surface you could feel the heat radiating from the ground from the volcanic activity below. The wind was the only thing that kept us from totally baking as there was a nice breeze. It is the prevailing wind from the east that has blown all the sand to the west side of the volcano making it suitable for volcano boarding. After about an hour climb we made it to the top and got suited up with knee and elbow pads, coveralls, goggles and gloves. Our guide gave us a quick lesson and it was time to slide. There was two options, either sitting or standing. Standing was similar to snowboarding except far more difficult due to the additional friction and lack of proper boots and bindings. We were told unless you were an expert snowboarder not to do it standing as you would not enjoy it. Only one guy from our group tried it standing and he spent more time on his butt than actually sliding down. To do it sitting, they gave you a board which was essentially a piece of plywood with a piece of smooth laminate glued to the bottom. It sort of looked like a small toboggan. You sit with your butt at the back and control your speed and steering with your feet. To brake simply dig your heals into the sand, to turn brake on one side. I was the first one from our group to go. You only get one go so you needed to make it count. Needless to say there would be very little braking occurring. The slide down was about 500m long and lasted less than a minute if you did it right. It was awesome except that the faster you go the more gravel and sand you kick up until you are getting completely sandblasted and can hardly see. By the bottom you have volcano sand in every orifice and are just covered. Gina came down a few people after me and had just as much fun. We were all black from the sand so after a quick walk back to our van, we returned to the hotel for a quick rinse. A proper shower would have to wait as all of our stuff was already packed for departure.

With only 45 minutes remaining before we left for Grenada, lunch needed to be quick and Nicaraguan restaurants are not known for their speed. We unfortunately ate at Burger King again as it was the only way 7 of us would get fed and not be late. At least the burgers were made with love unlike at home. We then loaded the same van that we were on yesterday with the same driver and departed for Grenada. The drive was three hours with a quick stop on the shore of Lake Managua for photos with the Momotombo volcano in the background. We also drove through the capital Managua but since there isn't much to see and it is primarily an administrative centre we did not stop. In Grenada we checked into our room. The first room they gave us stunk of sewage so the gave us a different room that was better. The water in town was shut off when we arrived so we could not shower. Instead we headed out to La Merced church and watched the sunset from the top of the bell tower overlooking town. It was really beautiful and Gina got some great pictures with the colonial church in the background. Sunday mass was also going on at the time and apparently it is traditional to shoot off fireworks to ward off evil. There was two guys out front of the church with an industrial sized bag of loud bang firework shooting them off every few seconds for the entire mass. If such a job existed at home I might consider going to church more often. There was car alarms going off up and down the streets from the explosions. After leaving the church we headed to a nearby cafe for a beer. On our way we passed another celebratory procession making there way down the street.

We returned to our hotel for our evening briefing then headed out for supper with the group. We both had filet steak as they were on special for $10. It was really good but it took forever to get our food due to the size of our group. Overtired from the long day I ended up initially paying double the cost on our bill. Luckily we were able to correct the error. It was back to the hotel afterwards for shower finally then to bed. We are heading out on a 4 hour kayak trip in the morning through some of the islands in Lake Nicaragua. In the evening we are supposed to go up another volcano but there is a chance the park will be closed due to recent activity. I am feeling better today and so is Gina. Looking forward to another full day tomorrow.
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