On our first day we split up and explored the city by ourselves. I was so stinkin' hot I decided to buy a dress that was much much cooler than my yoga pants and t-shirt. Andrew explored the markets and churches. It was a nice relaxing day.
We left around 7:00am on foot from the hostel and walked a block or so before catching a local... truck-thing… It was supposed to be a bus but apparently when they are short on busses they use pick-up trucks with canopies on the back and jam a TON of people in. So we jumped on while it was basically still moving and I nearly fell out when they gunned it, thinking we were all secure (though they do this ALL THE TIME). From there we switched to a real bus that was a little less crowded (but not by much) and had a bunch of people wandering through the aisle selling food and drinks. You can buy just about anything from your seat on any bus in Nicaragua, it seems. At bus stops sometimes people will board the bus from the front with a basket of baked goods or other treats and walk to the back trying to sell, advertising their goods quickly and loudly kind of like an auctioneer. Then when they get to the back they hang out until the next stop and get off. It is very interesting! We’ve seen them sell everything from baked things, ice-cream, corn-on-the-cob, little plastic bags of juice, razors, nail clippers, hammocks, DVD’s, SIM cards, and even pharmaceuticals.
It was a 15min walk to the bus station, then an hour-long bus ride to the starting trail. The hike was incredible! We started out at some boiling mud pots that smelled like sulfur then headed up a dried riverbed/ cattle trail and up over some farmland. It wasn’t until after lunch that we started the climb. I made a bad decision to eat two peanut butter sandwiches even though I don’t like peanut butter, because I was so hungry by the time we stopped for lunch. Unfortunately the steep hill with a nasty peanut butter filled stomach was not so pleasant. I managed to keep it all down but couldn’t stand the sight of peanut butter for the rest of the trip, and that’s almost the only thing we brought… (I traded for other things). Once we made it to the cone, the view was surreal! A massive smoking cone sprouting out of the hillside and a frozen lava river spilled over the top. We quickly set up our tents as we had less than an hour before sundown, and then headed up to check out the cone! It was loud, like a jet engine but muted. The cone was about 1km across and maybe that deep. We stood and crouched on the edge, literally where the ground cuts deep into the engine below. Yes we did acknowledge how dangerous it was there, but how could you resist! Deep in the center of the pit was a fiery glowing red hole with smoke spewing out. After staring at the lava hole for some time, mesmerized, we got up and walked to the other side of the cone to watch the sunset before heading back for dinner (a delicious homemade Dutch veggie mush dish made by Simon and Johnny) and topped it off with some roasted marshmallows at the campfire.
So while our cultural visit to Leon itself was a little short, we got to see some super neat things, meet some new friends, as well as an “old” friend, Devon.
After Leon we hoped back on the Chicken Bus and headed to Jinotega to stay on a finca/ nature retreat called La Biosfera, about two and a half hours north of Leon. We found La Biosfera on helpx.org while looking for another place to do some volunteering, and chose it partly because there is a bat cave there, and partly because it sounds very unique!
Hope everyone is well at home! I would like to congratulate my Dad and Carolyn on a successful hunting and fishing year! They finally got two moose and 27 Coho salmon! Of course it isn't all for them as there were others in the group to split with, but the freezer is full this winter which is awesome! We are also getting excited to spend two weeks with Donna and Jim (Mandrew's parents) who will be heading to Costa Rica on Nov 11th! Can't wait to see you!!