Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sarah's Trip To Nicaragua

For my major Summer Vacation trip this summer, Andrea was kind enough to let me venture to Nicaragua for two weeks for a geology trip with Thomas University. We left May 3rd from Jacksonville, flew to Miami International then hopped on a TACA plane and flew down to the Nicaragua capital, Managua. A chaotic city filled with smells of burnt meat surrounded by lush green sleeping volcanoes. My main goal when I was there to experience the culture and scale the important volcanoes: Mission Accomplished!

In total I climbed 5 volcanoes, one which was an 8 hour hike, 7 miles to the top and 7 miles back down. I conquered Maderas of Ometepe Island in Nicaragua. A feat few have accomplished. Despite being the smaller volcano on the island of Ometepe the Maderas still is a huge volcano, almost 1,400 meters high. Coffee plantations are located at the bottom part of the volcano. More uphill grows a cloud forest . For a reward, there was lagoon in the inactive crater of the volcano.

Ascending the volcano was only possible by foot. The trail started off quite steep but in good condition. We passed some petroglyphs and a nice lookout from where we could see the Concepción volcano and the lake. Hiking got tougher from this point. The humidity transformed the trail into a muddy, slippery path. The more we ascended, the worse it got. Sometimes we had to really climb instead of walk.

There are trees everywhere, so we didn’t get great views. And especially when we reached the cloud forest our view was completely restricted to nearly 6 feet in front of us. Which to me was a good thing, I wasnt able to look up and see how steep the climb in front of me was. I just kept looking where my feet were going and hoped I would reach the top soon.

Hiking to the top took about three and a half hours. From there, we continued and descended to the lagoon. This required some tough climbing. The lagoon itself was cold and covered in mist. To stand at the edge of the lagoon that is surrounded by trees and covered by a mysterious curtain of mist when monkeys howl on the background was quite a special experience, though. This was our reward, but we had only half finished our journey.

Then we started on our descent, which as soon as we finished our sandwiches we had to hurry and start back up the crater of the volcano due to the amount of rain coming down we were in for a rough time. There were waterfalls of mud and rock, and this climb was the most difficult and frustrating for me, I broke my hiking stick so I had to climb on my hands and knees up the crater to look a replacement stick to safely make my way down the mud slide and rocks. Descending the volcano took at least the same time as ascending. The whole trip took about eight hours. It was well worth the scratches and heat going up and the slips on the way down to say that I have scaled a volcano.
Besides a bunch of climbing and hiking, we also got to do some shopping at the Masaya Markets. I actually sent Andrea a postcard from here, maybe when it finally makes its way to Thomasville we will have it somewhere in the store. Here I was able to buy pottery, art, and relics that were associated with Nicaraguan culture. A great place to find neat pieces for your home décor, but no real fashion necessities to be found, believe me, I looked.
There was also a lot of really interesting food. A typical dish would be rice and beans with a type of meat, but there was an afternoon that I got to try some real delicacies: turtle eggs and an animal related to a rodent. Rodent good but turtle egg never again, I felt guilt afterward…. And it didn’t taste so great. Oh well.
All and all I had a really great time but I was glad to come back home. Home sweet home.

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