My First Hike – El Hoyo – Dec 6, 2012

On Wednesday night, one of the girls, Ginny, asked out to everyone at dinner, “does anyone want to do El Hoyo with me tomorrow?”  Kristi and I decided to do it with her. We were the only volunteers.

So at 7:30am we walked down to Quetzaltrekkers to meet up with Ginny.  There’s a group of four guys going volcano boarding in the truck with us.  Normally you go volcano boarding in the morning and hit up El Hoyo later. Then you spend the night on El Hoyo and finish up the next day.  Today we went straight for the Volcano and doing the hike in one day.

El Hoyo sucks. It starts straight up on loose gravel, very hard to get footing.  This takes about 90-120 minutes to complete. We did it in just over 60mins. Ginny ran up it in like 45mins… she`s an animal.  I took my time, the heat and elevation made me light headed and I’m pretty out of shape.

It then flattens out with small inclines and is actually a very nice and enjoyable hike.  We got all the way to the camp in 2 hours which is where they usually spend the night Which is usually a 4-5 hour hike with their lunch break.

We were making great timing as we sat down at the campsite for a quick bite to eat.

Ginny tells us she doesn’t want to rush us but she wants to be done by 3pm because she has stuff to do… It’s noon.  Normally a 5-6 hour hike when with a group.  That should be easy enough, we flew up the volcano.

So we start out going straight down on the same texture we went up. Slipping and sliding down, Ginny falls flat on her ass, pops back up. When asked if she’s okay she laughs and says “yeah I fall all the time”

2mins later I lose my footing, roll my ankle and go down hard off the path. Catch myself but bruise my thumb pretty good in the process.  I put a band aid on it, it falls off 30secs later. Too much sweat and dirt.

We keep going, 10mins later, Kristi falls and twists her knee, she’s okay though. Much tougher than I am.

We feel like we’re slowing Ginny up and Kristi has done El Hoyo a bunch of times because it’s her favorite. We insist she not wait up for us as Kristi knows the way. She finally gives in and goes without us.  We stop to breathe and relax a bit.  No longer pressured by time, we go at our own pace including a 25min break that I really needed.

We follow a fence around a farm for about an hour, then we run into some odd terraine. Kristi isn’t familiar with it. We call the ranger station and ask where to go.  Finally we get to the marker and start zipping down the trail, much easier and I feel great.  We hit a fork in the path where the ranger told us left… that was wrong. We walked 30mins in the wrong direction.  While back tracking, I’m pretty sure we made another wrong turn.  We ended up going down a long, wide path for 2 hours. No Footprints from Ginny, nothing looked familiar to Kristi.

At one point there were 3 massive Vultures eating something. Kristi said it smelled bad, I couldn’t smell anything.  Talk about huge, scary loooking birds though.  Pretty cool to see them feasting in their natural habitat. They didn’t follow us, I guess I was more alive than I thought.

Finally we hit a fence. Kristi calls Sam and he gives her directions… but we can’t find the marker.  We decide to continue walking towards a road because we could hear cars.  We then came to an opening to a farm, we decide to follow that path and see where it leads us.  A dog sneaks up behind us and barks, Kristi flips aout and screams at the top of her lungs.

15mins down the path we get to a farm.  Cows, Chickens, Horses and a dead end.

Luckily for us, there was a family over by what looked like a barn, however now I’m pretty sure it was their house.  Kristi tells them we’re lost and the friendly lady gives us directions through the farm out of there.  The lady goes to fill our water bottle and a man informs us to wait as his cattle was coming in and he didn’t want to see the gringos get trampled.

He leads us through the ranch and points us in the direction we need to go.  It’s a 25min walk straight down to the end of a long road which we had to stop and wait for more cattle to go by into another farm.  Finally we get to the end of the road and Kristi announces she knows where we are.  We just came out at the opposite end of the volcano and went the long way around.

We got to the corner store outside the bus stop and grabbed some “Big Colas” which wasn’t big at all, just a name for a coke-like product which cost us 50 cents for 2.  We jumped on the bus which was supposed to be a short ride to our connector. However the streets were packed tonight so we had to detour all around a small but cute town.  The bus ride cost us 50 cents each

Our connector was a chicken bus… It was about 5:10pm and we had been hiking and lost for 7 hours.  I thought we smelled bad until I got on that bus.  They crammed us onto the bus like sardines, think skytrain during rush our but smellier and no english is spoken.  Long bus ride cost us $2 total and they had crappy movie with Ice Cube on in spanish. Triple X or whatever

45mins later we’re dropped off in Leon but we have no idea where.  We try flagging down a few taxis but they were either full or when asked where we were going, they spoke fast and drove away.

Finally a little girl approaches us and asks where we’re going.  She has us follow her to talk to her dad.  He hails a taxi and gets us on the right path. We get dropped off 2 blocks from home pay the 40 cords (24 cords to $1us) for our 15min drive, walk the rest of the way and can’t wait to get inside to shower.

As we were in the taxi though, there were a lot of drummers and dancers in the streets randomly and fireworks going off.  Next door to our apartment, our road was blocked off and they were having a ceremony outside of our house…

Turns out they were celebrating the Conception of Mary and decided to sing crappy songs out front and light off fireworks.  Our room was facing them and our windows don’t close….

So finally get all the dirt washed off… that poor loofa is pretty much done.  We don’t get hot water in our shower… which isn’t bad for morning or daytime but sucked for this shower.

Now it’s been hours since we’ve ate, but we both have crappy blisters.  I have one on my heel and Kristi’s is on her big toe…. it looks like hers hurts a lot more than mine so I won’t complain.

We get our flip flops on and walk down to chicken bitch.  They call it that because the plady serves chicken and is a bitch… pretty straight forward.  2 pops, 2 chicken dinners including a big piece of chicken, rice beans and some crappy salad was 60 cords each. That works out to $5 for both of our meals combined!

We walked down the street to La Union which is the big grocery store, bought bread, yogurt, granola, fruit and a big gallon jug of water… which cost us less than $7

We wanted a cab back from La Union but again Kristi struggled with communicating and they drove off again. We decided screw it and walked what felt like a very long 15 min walk, blisters, sore feet, sore calves and quads but we made it.

We’re at home now, the people have cleared out in front of our house but I can still hear parties in the distance and fireworks going off

Tomorrow we are off to Granada for the day which is 2-3 hours away. We are meeting up with Kristi’s friend Alberto from Costa Rica. He was their tour guide when Kristi and her family went down there 8 years ago and again a few few years ago.  It’s 10:30pm here and I’m bagged. Good night.

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