Bustin' up the Monotony
Decisions, Decisions

June 15, 2016

We leave behind the roughness of yesterday and a wild and exciting day of volcano’ing and playing tourist.

What happened…

Andrew writes: A rough day yesterday followed by a rough night in the stuffy, muggy gym at the bomberos in Managua. We were up before our alarm went off at 0500hrs, in fact I don’t think either one of us really slept at all. We ate, packed up and left, mostly in silence. We were both grumpy bears who hadn’t had any coffee yet. Then we started the uphill grind to get out of Managua. Basically we started at 70m elevation and the “top” was around 350m, but we just kept climbing and climbing for over 20km. The whole time, the city of Managua with it’s tire shops, and hardware stores and restaurants and minimalls just kept on passing us by. For anyone else travelling in this part of the world I would say don’t venture into Managua proper unless you absolutely have to. The city is made up of a bunch of “rings”, and there are hotels and whatnot on the outer rings that we didn’t find yesterday but that would have made cycling today a lot easier.

At KM23 of the Carretera Masaya, we entered the Parque Nacional Volcán Masaya. Actually, we could see the erupting volcano from when we left the fire hall earlier today, with it’s two plumes of white and gray smoke smudging the entire southern horizon. Entering the park just before 0900hrs, we sat and talked with some of the guides. When 0900hrs came and went and the park didn’t open, we were told to wait until 0930. We decided to press on and just come back. I’m glad that we did! It was downhill to Masaya proper, and we got sorted out with a hotel room and whatnot, and then made our way back to the park. The hotel has this funky Harley-Davidson theme. I’m not used to themed hotels here in Latin America. Also, at $30USD I think that it is the most expensive hotel we have stayed in outside of Cuba in the two years we have been travelling.

We took the collectivo bus from near the hotel to get there, it was really easy. Despite being told that the buses are usually 8-10C, I got gringo’d for 15C each, which is about $0.75CDN. Grrrr. We got let off right in front of the park. Then we paid our park entrance fee ($100C or $5CDN) and a little bit more for transport up to the top, another $100C. The shuttle bus driver must make his living working as a Formula 1 driver in his part-time because he absolutely just tore it up the 6km to the summit. It was a lot of fun, and just Amanda and I in the big van. Unlike other mountain miradors, the impressive part of the volcano wasn’t about how everything around it looked, but rather that right below your feet is a giant whirlpool of fiery orange/red/black lava. It’s so powerful in many ways. We couldn’t help but stare, we couldn’t help but feel afraid for our lives, we couldn’t help but wonder. And then, for our own safety, after about 10 minutes we were whisked back down the mountain to the front gate. I’d say that even when we add in a few minutes stop at the visitors’ centre, that we were up and down within 30minutes. For $10, this was an excellent tour/adventure.

The collectivo back into Masaya was interesting. A 15-seater Toyota mini-van pulled up and we were ushered in. We were passengers #20 & #21 respectively at this point. Then a few minutes later, two more people got on. There were perhaps 6 of us standing/huddling/kneeling/crouching/touching all together. Again, for $0.50CDN each, it was a wild and crazy ride, and pure Latin America. It’s memories like this that I think I will remember more than cathedrals and cobblestones when I reflect back on my travels years from now..just the smell of 24 sweaty people jammed into a tiny mini-van.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening hanging out in the air conditioned room, ate some pupusas from a pupuseria across the street, and calzones from a nearby pizzeria and then some really nice cake slices from a pasteleria close to the hotel. Malaya has got the goods!

Amanda writes: Last night was awful! Not only was it bloody hot and there was no air moving, the fire hall was actually bustling with activity. They had two calls through the night and in their spare time were trying to teach one of the guys how to ride a motorcycle. It was annoying, but also kind of funny. I could hear them encouraging him and then when he’d pop the clutch and stall the bike, they’d burst into contagious laughter and razz him like men so often do to each other. It was actually pretty cute even though it didn’t lend itself to sleeping.

When you don’t have a good nights sleep the night before, somehow staying in an expensive hotel is an easy choice. We checked in and then headed back to the volcano and as Andrew described it; it was awesome! Not only was it incredible, but quick sightseeing is right up our alley because sightseeing can be more exhausting than cycling some days. The lava was absolutely incredible. I’m in awe at the power of it and how we can stand beside it and not be killed. It reminded me a lot of how I felt in Yellowstone National Park in the USA. The earth just bubbling around you and flowing like slow motion chocolate milk, but instead it’s boiling hot lava. Originally I thought the volcano eruption in Guatemala was pretty cool, but this topped it off. I just wanted to stand and stare at it forever but apparently it’s been pretty active lately and as a safety measure we weren’t allowed to stare at it for more than 10 minutes. This volcano is definitely one of my highlights.

Today’s Photographs

[flickr_tags user_id=”17145280@N00″ tags=”061516″]
Bustin' up the Monotony
Decisions, Decisions