Volcano Boarding – Cerro Negro – December 13, 2012

Alarm goes off at 6:45am… I hate mornings.  Kristi gets up and makes herself coffee… me and hiking and coffee just don’t go well together.  I jump into our cold shower to rinse and wake up.

Pack light, clothes on our backs, GO Pro and two empty backpacks, we walk down to Quetzaltrekkers.  On our way, we stop at a little place to grab some fruit. They had mixed fruit bags for 10 cords each. Watermelon, banana and papaya… I learn quickly that I don’t like papaya.

When we get to Quetzaltrekkers we quickly pack our backpacks with 4L of water and Volcano Boarding suits.  I break my zipper trying to close my bag so I grab one of the new bags we donated curtosy of Arcteryx.

We then hit up the cabinet for some SPF55 for our faces and go jump in the truck.  It’s a big group today.  Two trucks full of people, half just for Volcano boarding, the other half doing Volcano boarding then going up El Hoyo… Suckers.  If you haven’t read my El Hoyo blog yet, check it out.

David was the guide in charge of Volcano boarding and was in pretty rough shape.  It was his buddy Richard’s last night in Leon and was heading home to England.  Him and David were up drinking till about 6am and David got maybe 1 hour of sleep.

Our temperary roommate, Mike, was on the trip as well.  He didn’t get much more sleep than David.  Both of them slept on the ride up to Cerro Negro, which is impressive as the drive is on a long bumpy dirt road.  Kristi and I entertain ourselves by talking to a friendly lesbian from Florida who’s on vacation with her lesbifriend for winter break.  10 days, 10 different cities… pretty cool idea, imo.

At Cerro Negro, we grab our boards and start hiking to the top.  We also realize that we forgot our SD card for our Go Pro.  My calves immediately start burning and I’m starting to think this hiking thing isn’t for me and that I’m a big pussy since Kristi’s mom did it back in June.  We get to the first rest spot and David explains to us the two types of rocks on Cerro Negro and that the path we were walking on was designed because the locals decided to have a race up to the top… which is pretty dangerous.  After that, they decided to build a path.  However, the funding for the path ran out and the path just sort of stops halfway up.  So now we have to go up about for about 10 minutes and we’re advised to stay to the left where the rocks are bigger and more sturdy.  This was supposed to be the hardest part and I found it surprisingly easy as my body began to adapt.  Unfortunately I was stuck behind two girls taking baby steps and there was no way to pass them.  I decide to stop and move off to the side and drink some water to allow them to get ahead and I just cruise up to the next spot where we drop our packs and head down into the crater.  You can see and smell the sulfur but it’s apparently non toxic there as it’s 95% oxygen, I still attempt to not inhale as it smells like bad garbage.

Now we’re heading up a narrow path with big drops on either side, plus it’s really windy. We’re advised to walk carefully and if we feel the board kick up in the wind, they would rather lose the board than a person.  Judith, who was leading El Hoyo, announces if anyone is having trouble with their board, she will carry it. I offer mine, she tells me to keep walking.  I guess it doesn’t apply for other guides.  We get to the last stop for Volcano Boarding, drop our stuff and walk 5 more minutes to the top.  Just over 700 vertical meters high and we get to look down into the crater and see where our 2nd rest stop was. Pretty awesome sight.

Kristi points out that there are a lot of birds up there.  This is because when the wind kicks up, it carries beetles up to the top where they have nothing to live off of and can’t get down.  This makes for very easy bird meals.

We get our gear on… sweet yellow suits, gloves and crappy welding goggles that I can’t even see out of.  Also my gloves are ripped and full of Volcanic rock from the last person that wore them.

If you’re like me and the name Cerro Negro sounds familiar (and not just because my gf volunteered for 2 months here already) then you likely saw the same documentary where Eric Barone breaks the world record riding down the volcano on a mountain bike.  In the first run, he breaks the record, easy.  So being the crazy person he is, comes back with a custom bike and does it again. This time crushing his first run where he originally broke the record. But, his bike actually just completely falls apart and he is very lucky to survive.  Look it up on youtube, it’s pretty awesome.

Kristi decides to run down to the bottom as there were not enough boards for her, Judith or David.  Lesbian and lesbifriend are laughing alongside me and they say Kristi looks like a teletubby running to the bottom. That was pretty accurate if you’re trying to picture it.

Finally, I get to go. Everyone was very slow today but I was determined to go fast.  Just as I picked up some good speed, my board kicked sideways and I came to a stop.  I pick up my board, shake off all the rocks and back on I get.  I lean back into the perfect spot on my board and start really moving down.  I get to the bottom where Mike tells me I’m the fastest one yet. He went first and was slow so I assume he had a stopwatch on everyone.  Kristi then says the same thing to me. I immediately assume the position of Volcano boarding champion. There’s only 2 people behind me and I watch intently. I decide they are both slower than me and I take the thrown.

We go and relax for a snack of bananas and “bikys” as David called them… silly Brit, they’re cookies. David takes off his shoe and everyone sees his foot all taped up. One of the girls asked if he cut himself, he tells us no, he broke his toe playing football (soccer). This guy just hiked up a volcano, leading the way, hungover with a broken toe and I couldn’t keep up with him.  As we’re eating, David gives us our options which are: Whoever wants to go back up and do it again, he will take up. Or if you don’t want to go back up, we can relax at the Ranger station under the hammocks and they have cold beer and pop for sale.  He probably shouldn’t have mentioned beer.

I decide I only want to go up if someone is going to challenge me. Nobody does. That’s right! You guys know what’s up. Why try if you know I will destroy you in this race you don’t know we’re having?  We go back to the ranger station and hang out for an hour or so.  We eat a light lunch, veggie quesadillas, refried beans and Ranchitos spicy chips.  They’re like doritos but cheaper and tastier.

We get back to Quetzaltrekkers and walk home. I feel so much better today after hiking but I’m dirty and smelly and can’t wait to shower.  After showering, there were some guys doing work on our house.  Carlos wants to plant flowers in front of the house so they’re digging up the sidewalk and putting in flower beds.  We realize it’s Nicaragua and these guys have access to our house so we wait for them to finish so our stuff doesn’t get stolen. They look honest but it’s not worth the risk here.  I guess my spanish is noticably awful because when I said “Adios”, the guy responded “Good Night”.

By this time we were starving.  I said I was craving pizza so we went to the movie theater.  The Hobbit is playing there in English so we may go see that in the upcoming days.  We order a large pizza since we can take the leftovers home and 2 frescas.  The pizza was delicious.  But if you don’t know me, you’ll learn I love pizza.  Any kind of pizza and I’ve even liked pizza everyone else says sucks.  It’s pretty much my one weakness.  Anyways, our bill came and it was 300 cordobas which is like $12 and we still brought home almost half a pizza.

Everything was great now that we were full, we played a couple games of crib, climbed into bed and fell asleep watching the Lorax.

Unfortunately we were woken up at 1am by our roommates.  It was their last night here so they went and partied, can’t really blame them.  But one of them thought it would be smart to kick a door and ended up breaking it. It also caused the whole house to rumble.  They realized they were being dumb and went to bed.  Then a knock on the door. Mike answered, no one there.  I assumed it was pissed off neighbors.  Then another knock. Mike answered; no one there.  Finally a 3rd knock, Mike answered and it wasd the police. But it wasn’t about the noise, they had just chased some kids off that were hanging around the kitchen window.

I fell back to sleep and that was a wrap on the night.

This morning, Merideth and Mike apoligized. I didn’t really care, it was their last night here.  They hung out and packed and we chatted some more. Their friend picking them up is a photographer and has done some shoots for national geographic and has worked with models too. Kristi models back home so she was excited to meet him.  He seemed pretty laid back and cool and we have his card and facebook.  He wants to do a shoot on a volcano next week.  Look up Kristi Dawn to see her model page on facebook.

Inez, our maid is over now, cleaning up the mess that the workers made.  She did all the dirty dishes since we’ve been without a sink until this morning for the past 3 days.  I gave her 70 cords to do our laundry and she has this house looking great again. I kind of want to bring her home with me.

The only other thing that happened today was someone tried to hack my facebook and it’s been temporarily disabled.  They were nice enough to send me a text with a confirmation number but my phone is at home in Canada.  I sent them a photo with my driver’s licence and explained where I am.  Hopefully I’ll have my account back and running by tomorrow.

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