January 31, 2015
Yesterday, so many people struggled with the wind during the climb up Cerro Negro that nearly half our group bailed on the hike up Telica Volcano. I wish they would have bailed before the guide, who listened to all the complaining about Cerro Negro, shortened our scheduled hike by three hours. But I think there were only two of us that voted against a shorter hike, so we were out-voted regardless of many people ended up going.
The good news is this tour required an all wheel drive vehicle, and the tour provided two large vehicles for only seven of us, so we got quite a bit of space. Barb, Silvia and I traveled in car while Connie, Isabella, Janet, and Linda followed behind us.
Once again we stopped for water at the market before we continued for at least an hour to Telica Volcano. We turned off the Pan-American highway and onto a dirt road. Amazingly, not only does this one lane, dirt road provide a way to the volcano, it is also a bus route! A school bus comes twice a day to shuttle the families who live in the area into town. I saw the bus pick up some riders, but there was not an official bus stop (as we would know it), so I am not exactly sure how the bus schedule works. Of course the road is also home to ox, horseback riders, and tourists too!
The road got rougher as we drove further past the farm land and into the forest. Eventually, we reached a very small area with a tree or two where we parked the vehicles and prepared for the hike. The trail led us up one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua that erupts about every four years. We climbed loose, red volcanic rock beneath the bright sun. The light breeze was welcome, and frankly I found myself thankful for the unseasonably breezy week which kept away bugs and cooled us down on most days.
Grass, flowers and ferns managed to grow along the volcanic trail though we didn’t spot any trees until we reached the summit and looked down at the prairie on the other side of the ridge. The Telica Volcano is comprised of overlapping cones and craters. We climbed to the most prominent vent which is 700m wide and 120m deep. We could look inside the top and see the gases rising from the bottom. Had we hiked at night, we could have seen the lava. Not only was it cool to see its active, open mouth, but also it was cool to see Nicaragua’s tallest volcano, San Cristobal, which stands almost a mile high. Depending on the direction we faced, we either saw volcanic mountain ranges or farmland or both. It was quite beautiful.
After breathing the gas on the summit for a while, we descended the opposite side of the ridge to the prairie lightly covered in grass, volcanic rock, flowers and an occasional palm tree. Upon crossing the prairie, we came upon some horses that took shade beneath the only large tree. Farmers are allowed to let their horses roam on public land due to the draught. I was saddened to know the horses didn’t have a water trough. We were told they get watered a few times a week. After checking out the farmland, some of which was on fire, on the otherside of the volcano we reversed our course and returned to the ridge where we climbed away from the volcano to a small weather station that took a variety of readings.
Eventually we returned to the cars, and ate our lunch in the shade of the few. I think it took more effort to stay seated in the car while four-wheeling down the road than it did to hike to the summit of the volcano. We had a fun drive and hike before returning to the hotel in mid-afternoon to pick up the rest of the group for our transfer to Managua for our final night of the trip.
American continued its terrible service on the way home. The engine on our plane wouldn’t start for five hours, thus Alex and I missed our connections in Miami. I got rebooked on a 7pm flight from Miami to Denver which was to land at midnight. I asked where it stopped given it is a 3.5 hour flight, and I gain two hours. A midnight landing was much too late. I was told it didn’t stop anywhere. I knew something had to be wrong, but didn’t know what as I sat without internet access at the Managua Airport. I got so bored, I finally had to go buy a $29 book about the assassination of a Nicaraguan dictator. It’s funny because the only place that was expensive in the entire country was the airport!
They did succeed at serving me my breakfast at 1 in the afternoon:
Later I found out it stopped in Charlotte, but we would remain on the same plane. When they switched me to USAir out of Miami, their computer systems were incapable of adding my status or Global Entry/TSA precheck on my boarding pass. Before I entered Miami customs, I had to get another boarding pass with my benefits (which were paid for) so I could make it through customs with some ease. Amazingly, when I requested a new boarding pass, they told me I couldn’t get a new one without me showing my global entry card. I told them that was BS because my number was in the computer. How stupid did they think I was? They finally printed me a new one.
When we landed in Charlotte the flight attendant announced an aircraft change which ended up booting me out of first class on our final flight which was oversold. It finally left and landed in a major snow storm. The roads were treacherous and driving more than 40 mph invited spinning out on the highway. I got to bed around 2am instead of getting home at the scheduled time nine hours earlier. At least I got 5,000 extra miles for all the inconveniences!! Oh the pains we have to go through to enjoy a cool vacation! 🙂 ETB