Volcanoes in Nicaragua

Volcan Maderas

If Planet Earth is a face, volcanoes would be acne. Violent spewers of lava from a distractingly high cone, they leave their mark on Earth’s pretty teenage visage for many years after their initial eruption of fiery liquid. Maybe Ol’ Gaia has a hormone problem. Actually, maybe they’re not like acne. Some of the more active ones are more like haemmorhoids: leaking a bit here and there, still a bit sore years after they first bled and causing all sorts of problems when the nearby area needs to be evacuated. Then the dormant ones are more like a hernia – just poking through.

Volcan Maderas was a hernia. At 1394m, it’s a pretty impressive hernia. Since we were staying in its shadow at the Hacienda Merida, it wouldn’t feel right to skip that climb. It beckoned to us. We obliged.

Beginning the day at 6:30, our pack of six went for a spot of yoga to open up the hips, flex out and warm up before the hike. After two hikes in as many days, this was a welcome spot of stretching and warm up. I usually stretch for an hour every morning and evening and, depending on the day, for an hour in the afternoon too. This morning was no different, so though I joined everyone at 6:30, I was out on the dock at 06:00 just over six hours since I last stretched out. With a spine as tall as mine, this is somewhat necessary.

The climb was not too difficult. IN total, it took about four hours to get up and four hours to get down. The advantages of a group are: A) Better conversatonal options makes the time pass quicker, B) More food and special supplies to share around and C) Better support structure for those falling behind. The disadvantages are: A) If one person is slow, everyone must either wait or slow down, B) Potential for frustration if the hike does not go well, C) A leader may be necessary, but the risk of personality clashes then increases. Luckily, the common problems did not arise and the hike was very pleasant, everyone got on well and it was mostly smiles and laughter. There were even no complaints, not one, in the very muddy section.

Half way up Maderas on the way down, we were presented with this stunning sight of Volcan Concepcíon clear of its cloudy chapeau for the first time. It is one of the most perfectly conical volcanoes in Central America and looked rather majestic on this day.

We were lucky. Very lucky. About three hours in, we started to meet other groups coming down. Several of them were turning back because they couldn’t stand the mud or fog at the top. They had begun their trip about an hour or two before us and were struggling with the elements. We brave six, on the other hand, were wondering where the constant cloud cover was because the sunlight followed us up the whole way. When we finally made it to the top, the crater lake was spread before us at its most majestic, the ring of trees shaded a bright green in the clear sunlight directly above us. Fortune favoured us on that day as we were right in the middle of the crater of Maderas without a single cloud in the sky. Apparently, in the two weeks that one of the group had been there, this was the only day it was like this.

The highly vegetated crater lake of Maderas is a marvel to wonder! Swimming in it was not easy as there is a very deep layer of mud about half a metre below the surfce. I had to wade out about ten metres before it was deep enough to breast stroke my way out into the centre. It was totally worth it.

We hiked down at pace, waiting for those with weaker knees and ever concious of the descending sun. If we didn’t get off the mountain by sundown, it could prove troublesome…

Thankfully, we hit the main road just before the sun went down. The bus was about an hour away, so three of us decided to walk the extra 4km in the darkness and three decided to wait. About forty-five minutes later, we heard a loud engine behind us under the clear celestial sky that we had been admiring in the midst of a power cut. Assuming it was the bus, we stopped and stuck our thumbs out. Instead of the bus, it was the others, riding in the back of a flower truck! We jumped aboard, grabbed a hold of the crossbar, stared up at the sky and laughed our way back to the hostel… where we promptly jumped right into the invigorating, cool waters and rested our weary bodies under the stars.

L-R: Sebastian from Austria, Me from Awesomia, Marlon from the Netherlands, Vanessa from the Netherlands and Nick from Israel. Not pictured: Karolee from Chicago. We brave six scaled the mighty Maderas!

O, Fortuna!



Filed under Dearest Diary of Mine

2 responses to “Volcanoes in Nicaragua

  1. Mum

    Brilliant, Jamie. Looks wonderful and glad you are keeping the family climbing gene in good order…
    Mum x

  2. vestin hispants

    Hi Jamie,
    It’s so good to see how much you’re enjoying yourself. Your photo supports everything you’re saying about how good you feel and I’m so pleased for you. It sounds – and looks – like you’re meeting some great people. Meanwhile I’m on the hills regularly enough with some of the old-timers – four hours up being a relatively short day and typically coming down in ~ 1/3 of the time it takes to go up. Don’t forget Brown’s metric amendment to Naismith’s rule is 5km per hour and 1o min for every 100m of ascent. It’s very handy but only if you know the route.

    Drop me an email if you want to skype sometime over the weekend. Your little sister will be around. Love Vestin xx

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