Leon and the volcano boarding

It takes about nine and a half hours from Roatan to Tegucigalpa. Thats one and a half hours with the dreaded fairy from Roatan to mainland Nicaragua and eight hours of chicken bus ride to Tegucigalpa; last years voted, most dangerous city in the world. We opted instead to go to Leon. That summed up to a whopping total of twenty two hours of traveling. But not without a good reason.

Leon is an old colonial city in Nicaragua. It was one of the two prime candidates for the capital city about two hundred years ago; the other one was Granada, our next destination. We arrived at Leon at two in the morning and were greeted by drunken inhabitants gathered like ants outside our stay for the night; a shared accommodation youth hostel. The place reminded me of my years in the army. Big rooms with 2 level bunkers shared by 10-12 people. We were shown to our spot in the rooms. I quickly got out of my clothes not caring much about flashing my boxers to the mixed sex crowd of the room which I’m pretty sure didn’t care much as well. The large ceiling fan blew hot air on my exhausted body while i fall into a deep sleep.

The next day we woke up at around seven and had a better look at the place. It was called the Bigfoot hostel and it was reeking with young, loud people. Drunks were laying everywhere they could find, others comfort themselves in the small pond pool. A few relaxed in the many bamboo-made hanging chairs while others had breakfast. I went to one of the outdoor bathrooms to wash my face and use the toilet. What a cool place that was! After breakfast we were greeted by our tour of the day. We boarded an old truck and drove for 25 km into the dirt, towards Cerro Negro; a currently sleeping active volcano. Cerro Negro which means black hill, was exactly that: a 750m tall pile of fine volcanic ash around a big crater. The only way to get up there was to hike for 45 minutes and the only way we wanted to descend it was on a homemade sleigh with some not-so-intelligent physics and steering controls applied to it. The hike was moderately difficult. Despina was weak and dehydrated from the previous days so from a point onwards i had to carry her “board”. We made a couple of stops before reaching the top, to catch our breath and take some photos. Once on the top, we took a look at the crater and the lava flow which spilled towards the east part of the valley. After the history lesson, it was time for the fun part. We suited up with orange, convict like uniforms and welders glasses, received some quick instructions from our guide which summed up to something like “Don’t fall and if you do, don’t fight it. If you cant steer your board, don’t worry about it” and started sliding. It took 45 minutes to climb it and less than a minute to go down with speeds peaking at over 70 km/h. I maintained an average speed short of 50 km/h. Needless to say that, suit or no suit i haven’t been covered in so much dirt since my early childhood.

In the truck we were greeted with beer and cookies. The combo sounds a bit weird but its so good! By the time we finished the beed and the cookies we were almost back to the cool hostel. We were all dusty, sweaty and we stunk but didn’t have time for a shower. We had a quick meal and got our the way for Granada.