. The climb was very steep on some fairly soft and sandy terrain through dense jungle vegetation. We really enjoyed it and Gina did awesome getting up. To add to the challenge was the heat and humidity which just got more intense as the morning wore on. We were just soaked from sweating so much by the time we hit the tree line. Once above the trees the view was amazing. On one side was the summit of the volcano, on the other there was an incredible view of the island and the lake. We rested for a bit once we hit the highest point we were allowed to climb but with no jungle canopy above our head it was really hot. The wind cooled us off a bit. We hike down the volcano on the opposite side that we climbed up. It was steep and had no trees so there was no cover from the noon day sun. It was pretty challenging getting down with all the loose gravel on the trail but we made it down unharmed. We were pretty tired by the bottom but we really enjoyed the day. I forgot to mention that we did see monkeys and a snake. The snake was maybe 10cm long and you probably would have confused it with a worm if you didn't know any better.
After the hike we drove to a nearby beach on the shore of Lake Nicaragua. There was a hotel restaurant there where we had our lunch. It was included as part of our hike and they brought us two huge platters of meat, fried plantains, fried cheese and salad to share between the carnivores in the group
. It was really good. After lunch it was time for a swim but unfortunately the warm water and flies (three flies, five flies...) made it less than enjoyable. We tried to get as much volcano grime off but that was about it. We did have an option to go to a nearby spring so we took advantage of that. It was near the restaurant so it was a short drive over. The water at the spring was cool and crystal clear. It was very refreshing after the heat of the day. We swam for about an hour and had a few libations before needing to head back to our host community.
Before returning to our families for the night we had our briefing at the community centre. It was then back to Brenda and Jorge's house for supper. She served us empanadas of cheese wrapped in plantain with rice and a slaw salad. It was delicious but so filling. Afterwards we sat around the living room some more and watched TV and made an effort to socialize. The puppy and their 2 year old baby boy gave us some laughs as they were both full of energy. I found out that Brenda works for the community board while Jorge is a bus driver. There families all live within an hour of their house and it showed as lots of people came in and out through the evening. Tired from our big hike we headed to bed pretty early as we need to be on the first ferry in the morning at 06:00. We are heading to Costa Rica. The home stay was a great experience.
We were up early today as we had a volcano to climb. The rooster was going nuts at about 5:00 so our last half hour of sleep was a little tough. We had a great sleep in our host family's house. The had a nice little guest room for us. For breakfast we had scrambled eggs, rice and beans and fried plantains. It was delicious. We got to meet their youngest daughter Sally who was on her way to school. Our van picked us up and made stops at the other houses to collect everyone who was going to climb Conception volcano which is the bigger of the two on the island. The volcano stands at 1610m above the lake but we could only climb to 1000m because of the toxic gasses at the active summit. Ten of us decide to do the climb, the other option was a cultural drive around the island which sounded far less exciting than an active volcano. The hike into the base of the volcano was pretty easy as we hiked through coffee and banana plantations on fairly level ground. Once at the base things got a lot more intense