Sometimes you wake up
and realize you want to go to a volcano right now. It's the weekend, you have nothing planned, there is one 20 minutes down the road, and you want to go see what it's all about. The beauty of living in Managua is that we can do just that on a moment's notice.
Our trip to Somoto Canyon last week reminded us that we need to get out and do things while we can. Sometimes we get caught up in work and life and forget that our time here is limited. Last night we discussed a brief visit to the volcano today and it was agreed we would all head out in the morning.
Or afternoon, as the case may be when it takes over an hour just to wake up the teenager. However, given it was a lazy day, we didn't have to stress about meeting anyone at a certain time or worry about being home for anything this evening. We sussed out restaurants near the volcano and figured we would have a nice local lunch before our hike, however brief or long.
The one issue we have here is finding actual directions to places. Addresses as we know them really don't exist. Most addresses are in relation to a monument or landmark (said landmark does not need to be in existence now, which can be tricky for newcomers). So, we had a bit of a hard time finding our lunch destination. It was supposed to be kilometer 13.5 on the highway, however, it didn't state which side. Even more confusingly, the actual map on Trip Advisor pointed to a completely different area. We drove around for a while, eventually found another restaurant that happened to overlook Laguna de Masaya, and made us even more eager to make our way to the top of the crater.
After lunch, we found the entrance to Masaya fairly easily (it's right on Carretera Masaya, how's that for directions!) and proceeded to go in. Unfortunately, we were stopped at the beginning, as nowhere did we read that the entrance cost was 100 Cordobas per person (everything we found simply said 100 Cordobas, and we assumed per car...nope). Luckily, our friend ATM saved everything and we were back at the entrance 10 minutes later. We paid just over 20 USD, and made our way inside.
We could have stopped at the grand and rambling visitors center (one of the nicest we've seen here), but opted to go straight to the top. We knew we were not in danger of visiting only once, and given this was more of a visit to scope out what we could do, we kept driving. The first leg was very lush and green, but that quickly gave way to wide open fields. Wide open lava fields, which excited all of us to no end since that quickly took us back to our time in Iceland.
After a 4 kilometer ride, we reached the parking area. We stopped, noted the cowboy up on the hill, and headed over to the crater. It was a bit, er, smoky, so the view we had changed frequently as the wind shifted.
I think, though, despite our late start, it was a perfect day to see a bit of what the area had to offer.
Like Iceland, Nicaragua can be very "at your own risk." This does not bother us, as the views are unobstructed by fences and such. A little common sense, of course, in such areas, goes a long way.
Lava rocks were most definitely made for climbing, at least according to the little guy....
The cross in the above photo is from a baptism the volcano received in the 16th century. Due to its frequent eruptions, the volcano was feared by Spanish settlers and indigenous peoples alike. The baptism was held in the hopes that the devil could be removed from the volcano. Just for the record, the exorcism didn't 'take'...
A certain someone admitted once at the top of the volcano, that she was very glad to have made the trip.
It's not a day til you are completely and happily covered in the dust from 300 year old lava rocks.
No worries, none of us slipped off the ledge. However, we are sufficiently intrigued and we will likely return many times. We are hoping to make a visit over Thanksgiving break in order to take the tour of the bat caves, will return another time to hike Sendero Los Coyotes (a roundtrip hike from the visitor center to the Lagoon), and last, but not least, we will go back up to the crater and hire a guide to take us up further on horses. Many of the trails require guides, and given our good experiences with them thus far in Nicaragua, I'm happy to hire someone who truly knows the lay of the land. Now, what to do tomorrow....