Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Day. 149

Miles. 60

Total Miles. 7,280

The cemetary in Granada, I don´t know if the red on the statue´s heart was intended or not, but it made for a striking figure.

Some kids were jumping off of the dock as I waited for the boat to the island. I was just about to join them, as I am and always will be enamered by jumping off of tall objects into water, when the boat pulled up which was a bummer. But, I did get this great action shot which I was really pleased with of one of the guys.

Here is the beast I meant to climb, Volcan Concepcion, as seen from the mainland.

This is Goswin and Johnny, two kids that lived on the island. They rode their bikes to work at the docks every day, 26 kilometers away! They had one bike between them and so I let Johnny ride on my trailer for a while.

I am in a tiny little town called Altagracia on the island Olmetepe. The island is formed by two large volcanoes rising out of Nicaragua´s freshwater lake. What a wonderful place this little island is, I have to say. It is just amazingly beautiful for one thing, and lush beyond description which is really saying something for Central America. Everywhere you look it is covered with flowers, fruit bearing trees, sugar cane and of course, green green everywhere.
It is the people though, that make this place so nice. Where I found a lot of the people in Nicaragua to be a little aloof (a lot of people would not wave back or smile at me when I would do so to them on the mainland) the islanders have been uniformly nice and friendly in my experience. It is a really slow paced place, as islands often are, and it feels like a Norman Rockwell painting, if he would have been born a Latino that is.
I arrived on Sunday and everyone was taking it easy, sitting and chatting to one another on their doorsteps. Outside of the towns, the fields were full of the towns´ baseball teams playing games (Nicaraguans LOVE baseball, it is the national sport) while all of their families cheered them on. Its the kind of place where kids walk to school together (well, the little girls skipped more than walked) without parent supervision, everyone waves at each other and stops to visit. It feels like a really safe place, and a happy place too. There are nearly no cars either, which is good considering the roads on parts of the island are unbelievably bad.
I can see how people come here and do not want to leave, it is just such a beautiful, peaceful place.
I just came back from climbing the larger of the two volcanoes on the island, Volcan Concepcion. I originally wanted to climb the smaller volcano as it has ancient stone pytroglyphs on it and the crater at the top has become a large lake. However, upon arriving and laying eyes on the two volcanoes, the larger of the two just really appealed to me more. It is also an active volcano and just a few days ago burped up a huge smoke ring into the air.
So, being the bigger and more challenging climb, plus being an active volcano, it won me over and I decided to climb it instead.I asked around and the locals told me it was a tough, 10 to 12 hour climb, and that if you were really fast you could get it done in 8 hours. So, thinking that this would be quite the challenge, I brought three liters of water, and a bunch of food to keep my strength up. The only problem is that I do not have a back pack, so I just tossed everything into a cloth sack, threw it over my shoulder and charged it. I must have looked pretty funny carrying a big sack on my back like Santa Claus, but that was all I had to work with so I just went with it. Let me tell you, the inventor of the back pack must have had to carry around his things in a big sack all the time, because it really sucks. Trying to carry it up the side of a volcano on loose, slippery rocks is even worse. I had to carry the stupid thing in my teeth several times and towards the top, where it got so steep I had to go on all fours, I just tossed it under a rock and went on without it (but I got it on the way back down, of course).
It turns out I could have gone without it as I completed the entire climb in 6 hours, which included a lunch break. I didn´t even push it that hard, just kept a steady pace up and down. I was a little disappointed that the climb wasn´t more challenging as I had been really looking forward to it, but all the same it was pretty cool.
It was super windy and cloudy at the top which stunk as I couldn´t see much from the peak, and more annoying, I couldn´t see down into the volcano´s mouth. I was really curious to see what I could see. In a sense though I was lucky it was cloudy and misty as it kept me cool (and dripping wet) and it kept the toxic fumes coming out of the volcano away form me. The wind did stop for one brief second and in that moment I got a huge whiff of sulfur, which dang near knocked me on my rear, it was so overpowering.
I made it back down in good time as I had set off at sunrise and since have been eating loads and relaxing. I found ¨The Hobbit¨ in the book exchange here which was like striking gold as the best English language book I could find at the previous Hostel was a Romance Novel. ¨The Hobbit¨ is one of my all time favorite stories and reading it again before climbing a volcano seemed somehow very fitting.
Tomorrow I head back for the mainland and will make my way into Costa Rica for some quality beach time. I plan on lingering there for a week to just soak up some sun, get in the water and body surf a little before making my way to Panama. It is strange, but I am actually looking forward to the touristy parts of Costa Rica as it will feel a little like home.
Well, one more goal accomplished, on to the next!
The sort of busy streets of the small town of Altagracia.

The path leading to the volcano, nice and flat and broad!

I even had some friendly monkeys to keep my company!

Starting to get a bit wilder...

Now starting to get really wild.

The view from half way up before the wind and clouds came in.

Half way up, not looking to shabby, although I was sweating like a beast.

Looking back down the path, it is getting very very steep, and I am starting to climb above the jungle.

Well up above the jungle now, climbing up loose rocks among these low, tough shrubs, on all fours at times.

View from the top, the last few hundred meters were straight up over very loose rocks with the wind howling past me.

Looking down into the mouth of the volcano, I wish I could have seen more but it was scary looking down into that abyss!

It was so windy at the top, I seriously felt like I would get blown off the top of the Volcano if I was not careful. I think I look particurlarly handsome in this picture!


Eric Ossello said...

wow reece...amazing reading! Thanks for letting us live vicariously through your adventure!!!

Lizzie Morrison said...

"The path leading to the volcano, nice and flat and broad!"

---That photograph is really fantastic.

Melonie said...

Amazing is being conservative .. it's wicked how keul your adventure is...more so when stuck in a computer class.. love the pic of you @ the top of the volcano!

Zee said...

Handsome as ever even while being blown off the top of a volcano! I love your blog, darlin! Are you ready to come to WA yet?

Reecius said...

hey thanks everyone, the volcano was a pretty cool experience. I just wish it wouldnt been so dang windy at the top, i couldnt see much, and the wind was blowing so hard it felt like a hurricane. all in all though, it was pretty fun!