I got up fairly early and decided that while I enjoyed hostels in my youth, I was now firmly spoiled and that was probably not going to change. I checked out early and had already secured more appropriate accommodations at a hotel a few blocks away. I figured it was New Year’s Eve so I could treat myself 🙂 However, I had booked the volcano surfing trip through the hostel so I waited patiently along with 20 or so other people for the truck to depart. Eventually we left, on Nicaraguan time that appears to mimic Bermuda time in that everyone is always running 30 minutes late. The hour long truck “ride” out to the Cerro Negro volcano was a bone-jarring, butt-crunching, less than enjoyable experience only to be bested (or maybe it should be worsted) by the nerve-numbing, back-cracking, stomach-churning ride back! Check it out.
The volcano itself is an interesting paradox. At 160 years old, it is the youngest volcano in Central America but it is also the oldest cinder cone volcano in the world. These types of volcanoes apparently have much shorter life span. See my blogroll for more info on the volcano. In case you are wondering what volcano surfing is… well it is basically sitting or standing on a specially designed board and speeding as fast as you can down the side of a volcano made entirely of small rocks and sand. How well you do is determined by the speed you attain near the bottom. Current speed record is over 170Kph. The speed record for the tour groups out of the Bigfoot Hostel is 84Kph for men and 80Kph for women. Pretty fast!
We got to the base of the volcano and were given a bag containing a bright orange jump suit (the hostel’s colors) and goggles and we had to carry that plus a specially designed surf board to the top during a hour long hike. That board and bag began to feel a little heavy by the time we finally got there but it was manageable. The wind was blowing steadily and a light rain fell which was actually good because it kept the day nice and cool. Here is the scenery as we trudged up.
Video coming soon.
As luck would have it, the sun came out just as we were getting ready to start surfing. Most of the women went first and then a couple decided to race each other. All good and well until the girl comes off her board at 55Kph and proceeds to Ninja roll down a bit of the volcano. Not good. Think hard, jagged, abrasive volcanic rocks and you will realize that falling off the board at any real speed means blood coming out of you. My turn came and I was a bit of a sissy given that spill the girl took. I got to the bottom safely, albeit slowly:) After checking out her injured leg, I was glad to not have tried some speed record nonsense. A few minutes later, the resident nutcase came hurtling down the volcano and he was really moving. Unfortunately, at that speed, one little bump and you are toast. That’s exactly what happened and the guy was thrown from his board and slide to a painful stop on his face! His goggles and board were stopped about 20 feet above him and he really got quite scraped on his arms and legs. His face, thank God, was fine.
As we boarded the truck for the return trip, the tour guides handed out the beer and the group had fun discussing the trip. More mojitos awaited us on our return and the group spent a little time chatting before breaking up. I realized that even though I was staying somewhere else, I was fortunate to meet some younger people who actually were a pleasure to talk to. Shout out to Dave (the daredevil), Vincent (the board breaker), Kendall (the North Carolina ninja) and Harrison (the one armed surfer). It was a pleasure to surf with you and sorry I missed you at New Year’s 🙂
New Year’s Eve was only five hours away so I headed out and was so glad to be able to get a long hot shower. The amount of volcanic dust, gravel and grime you get on you in one 7 minute trip down a volcano is amazing. Then I relaxed and watched a movie before trying to settle in for a little nap. I couldn’t sleep so I had some dinner before wondering back to the hostel to see if anyone was around for the celebrations. The place was pretty quiet so I returned to my room and was asleep before the New Year came in. I must have been tired because fireworks, loud music and screaming did not keep me awake for one second 🙂