NicaROCKgua: Volcanic Hikes

13 Dec

Helen and I were having a blast in Nicaragua. What a beautiful country full of lakes, volcanoes, and impossibly friendly locals. Our 8 days in Nicaragua were full of laughing to tears, meeting wonderful people, and trying new things. We set our sights on hiking two vastly different volcanoes: Telica (TELica?) which is currently active and Cerro Negro which last erupted in 1999 and tends to erupt every 16 years. Eek! We started with TelICa.


A hot-bed of volcanic action. The sound, heat, and olfactory stimulation at this crater were palpable.


“This is already the best day Hen’s ever had”


Jose Carlos, the tallest of all children.

This hot-bed of volcanic activity was miles from the base of the volcano itself. There we met these adorable children, who safely showed us around the bubbling earth. After a wonderful tour (we think, it was all in Spanish), Jose Carlos offered to be our guide for a much longer hike up Telica. TELica. TelICa. (Every time we said it, we were corrected on the pronunciation. Every time we changed it. Every time we were corrected again.)


Since Telica (TELica) is an active volcano, we asked child-guide Jose Carlos if we could go at night in order to look inside and see the lava. He was eager to be our leader and asked us to meet him at 3PM to start what was allegedly a 5 hour hike.  We met at his house and found his entire family waiting outside to meet us. They were beaming with pride. To our relief, his father Emilio, joined us with his machete in hand. Neither of them spoke a word of English.  No problem-a.


Emilio. The most patient man on Earth.


And so it began.


Hitting the trail or is the trail hitting us?


1 hour in, not a volcano in sight. Clues were abundant.

It proved to be an incredibly challenging hike, both physically and mentally. We spoke solamente en espanol. Hen and I brought a gallon of water to share. It was heavy, cumbersome, and not enough for two people. What was supposed to be 5 hours of adventure turned into 8. Nightfall came less than 3 hours into our hike and we were only equipped with our iPhone flashlights.  Gulp.  But not of the water (we’re saving that for later).


Optimistic, before the rationing.


Say “QUESO!”



Everything the light touches is our kingdom.

Clothed and Afraid: Nicaragua Edition:


On my belly looking into a volcano at night.  The lava rushed loudly beneath me. I army crawled on warm, soft ground. The night air smelled like sulfur. Heart palpitating. Jose Carlos wouldn’t get close.


We returned to their house at 11 PM, filthy and exhausted.

Joking aside, we never felt unsafe at any point on our 8 hour hike. Emilio was a skilled laborer who knew the area well. He and his son were perfect guides. We were effusively grateful. At the end of an exhausting day, Emilio said it was an authentic experience.  At least we think that’s what he said.
“I feel like I know enough Spanish to ask questions but not enough to hear the answers.” — Hen

The four of us were exhausted. They graciously offered us their beds to sleep in but they had already done enough. We were filthy and opted to sleep in our own adorable car in their driveway but not before we spent an hour using every baby wipe we had to get “clean” before entering our “home”.

When the sun came up a few hours later, Emilio and his family greeted us with coffee and let us use their shower.


Hen hanging in our new friends’ yard while Bam showered.


Hen learning how to use Emilio’s shower.

Post showers, Emilio proudly showed us around his yard. These are his animals:


“Some pig!”


Ask me how I got bird flu.

It was time for us to bid adieu. The whole family said goodbye.


Saying our Adios’.


For our next volcanic adventure we chose Cerro Negro, a volcano covered in black ash, infamous for volcano boarding near the northern town of Leon.


We’ve got volcanoes in different area codes.


“I guess when we signed up for this, deep down I must have known that that would mean carrying a board up a volcano. But somehow, it didn’t hit me until now, half way up.”

We chose a polished tour company this time but were still unprepared for how windy the volcano was. Imagine trying to climb up the type of rocks that are infamous for being easy to slide down. Yikes. We struggled to maintain footing while carrying 35lb boards on our backs.


Laughing to tears. Tears that were instantly taken by the wind.


The warmth of our friendship rivaled by the warmth of the ground.

Sammi: Helen, do you have pockets?
Helen: Yes, why?
Sammi: Be cool but I’m going to fill them with volcanic rock.
Helen: Wait… what?
Sammi: You’re going to want this, trust me. Try not to draw attention. I’m going to stuff them as full as possible because you’re going to lose some on the way down the volcano.


Started at the bottom now we’re here.


The Dark Side.


Where are the brakes?


Hen’s best ride.


Are you serious??  “I haven’t made a joke since our layover in Atlanta.”

Erupting with fond memories. Saving the best/worst for last,
‘mi and Hen

One Response to “NicaROCKgua: Volcanic Hikes”

  1. deekerson December 14, 2016 at 7:43 pm #

    Volcano sliding looks like fun, sort of.

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