Our last night staying at Hacienda Merida was the most scariest of nights I have ever had. Our beds were covered with the misquote nets, but once the net touches our skin it loses its purpose and just becomes annoying. So I flipped half of it up and slept under the part that was still down. I had a fairly fitful sleep. Then I half awoke and saw a dark shadow descend from the beam, down to the top of the net, and then down to the bed. My friend sleeping on the bottom bunk just below me heard me saying ‘no, no, no.’ Thinking that I was just having a bad dream and kept sleeping. For 20 seconds I sat there, staring down past my feet to the end of the bed, hoping that I was just seeing things. Unfortunately my fears where confirmed when I saw a dark furry creature at the end of the bed. For a moment it sat there and scratched itself. Then it looked up. I swear it knew I was looking at, and to my utter terror it charged right at me. One, two, thr-SWOOSH! I back handed that sucker as hard as I could off the side of the bed.
I peeked over the side of the bed…I didn’t see it. After taking a breath I scrambled down from the bed and out to the safety of the great out doors. Where I slept on the hammock for the rest of the night, which turned out to be longer than I thought. My friend, being the caring person that she was, went back to sleep. In the morning my friend asked me what happened and it was then that I realized that my little unwanted visitor was a rat.
After such a long and rather exhausting hike it was nice to have one that was like a walk through the park. Everyone’s legs where stiff and some of us walked a little funny. The hike was to a lake (pictured above). In case you can’t tell we had a mud fight. The mud is good for the skin so we also put it on our faces.
My sunburn was still pretty stiff. I made sure to keep aloe on it as much as possible. Just fyi if you get a sunburn and it your face gets puffy, it’s okay, just put lots of aloe and try to stay out of the sun.
Lunch was delicious as usual. My favorite food there is probably the cokes, because they come in a glass bottle and taste different and are so yummy. in our group there are two who are french and for some reason where ever we go the french people are always the ones to get their food first. So if you want the food sooner, sit with the french people.
Our last stop for the day was the cold springs. There was a rope swing and we may have had a bit too much fun on it. There was a first aid station there as well the only thing is that it was empty with a steep incline on the other side. We joked that if anyone got hurt we would send them over there. At the end of the evening we learned more about springs and we found a mud turtle. Mud turtles are one of the few native species left in their own habitat. They are not really built for swimming but skimming the bottom of the water, they also breath out of their butts. As for springs, if I remember correctly, springs come from volcanoes where or not if they are warm or cold depends on how close they are from the volcano.
At the top of Ometempe is the fabled fountain of youth it is a very difficult hike but the view is worth it. When you have a sunburn and have to hike a volcano it is best to do it in a rainstorm. As you can probably imagine this made the trail very wet and muddy. It was also quite steep. All of the tree tops blotted out the sky to was only at the halfway point that we could look out over the island. Some of the trees that we grew there were banana trees, there were a ton of fern trees and my favorite, cocoa trees. Because we got a late start not everyone was able to reach the top. A couple of us turned back at the halfway point and then about 2hours later more of us turned back. After seeing the pictures from the very top of the volcano we tried not to hate the ones who where able to make it there. Going back down was slick and that is where the most people slipped. Sometime after the half way point the rain stopped and the animals started coming out. That is when we got our first look at the howler monkeys. After everyone met up we went back to the Hacienda to change into clean clothes then went back into town and had dinner with the guys that guided us up the volcano (Matthew, Ben and Alexi). These guides are awesome they hike the volcano all the time and we enjoyed learning from them.
Traveling with a sunburn is not very comfortable, but it was better than being in the sun all day. We stopped at a little town for lunch that had this magnificent view of a lake. We were a little worried about making it in time for the fairy, but we made it with 15 min to spare. It was a cool ride for the first time ever I was on a boat without much of a land mass to look back to. And then I got to see two massive volcanoes slowly come into view. When we finally got to Hacienda Merida we had a delicious dinner and learned more about how volcanoes form. Although I learned about it I am not confident to tell others about it quite yet.
One the way back from the boat tour we got out of the boats and walked on the roots trees. One of our fellow classmates went off the beaten path and caused a few branches to break. Since we joked that we were acting like monkeys one of the professors called out “Come on chubby monkey.”
The rest of the day was free. So naturally I spent it on the beach. I once again found myself climbing on the rocks with two other students and the drivers. The guys said that there was something cool on the other side of the rocks. I really wanted to go see it, but after slipping and rolling down one of the rocks I decided that that trip wasn’t going to happen. I was a bit jealous when the professors and everyone else was able to climb right over the slippery rocks. Those volcanic rocks can certainly rip up a knee…and an elbow…and a bit on the foot. but it was fun!!
We got to sleep in a bit our third day here. And then we took a nice walk down the street to meet our tour guides and boats. We split up into the three boats and then headed into the man groves. The man groves while they seem plentiful are actually endangered and very valuable for the environment. Many animals rely on them for camouflage and for their homes. Sadly for us biology students we did not see any snakes or kamen; however we did see a lot of ibyss which is a lovely white bird with yellow feet. We also saw gackles which are black birds that look like crows. Some of the other students saw an iguana or two. I was really happy to get a glimpse of kingfisher, because those are one of my favorite birds.
Well the suites are not glamorous or very cool, but it beats eating the volcanic ash. And lets be honest none of these pictures are very glamorous with the glistening sweat and red faces. Looking down the side the volcano was pretty intimidating, but once you get going you want to go faster. At the bottom I had volcanic ash was everywhere up past my ankles inside my pant legs, my mouth, my ears,my hair it even stuck to the the sweat on the back of my neck.
We were allowed to slide down twice, but because so many people were tired after the first round we didn’t get to go a second time.
I believe the volcano’s name is Cerro Negro. It is a very active volcano but it does not explode with lava instead it spits out sand. This makes it a great place for sand boarding. besides the main crater there are at least 3 other craters created by the explosions that chucked up huge rocks instead of sand. If you move the first layer of sand away from the volcano you can feel the heat coming off of it. Which makes the big fat bees that live on the side of the volcano even cooler. This tells us two things one do not mess with those bees and two there is life everywhere.
While hiking up I was walking next to one of my professors “Do you realize that you are hiking a volcano in the middle of South America?” To be honest I was mostly trying to focus on breathing. But wow, yeah he was right. I had worked so hard to be there, and to travel somewhere out side of my home country, and I had made it.
It is our first full day in Nicaragua. It is so hot we only have sheets on you beds and most if not all of us never really used them. The humidity clings to your skin as if it’s life depends upon choking the life out of you. Luckily the vans have AC, and the drivers kept it on blast the entire time we were there.
Despite having a late night it was rather easy to get up about 5:30 am in order to leave at about 6 ish. The sun likes to rise around 5:00, and I have always found it easier to rise with the sun. We first went to Leon to pick up our guides and our supplies. We then traveled about another hour to make it to the Volcano. The hike was only about a mile long, but with about a 20 pound board on your back and a steep climb it felt like 5. my legs were noodles by the time we got to the top.
We arrive bone tired a weary around noon on May 1st. Growing up in America I knew that there where places where people lived in huts and sold things on the street for a living. But it hits you differently when you see it for yourself. There is a lot of trash on the side of the streets, and little stray dogs wondering everywhere. Nicaragua is the poorest country in South America besides Haiti, but it is also the happiest
The driving is crazy, but effective. It took us about 3 hours to get to the hotel that we were to stay at. After setting our stuff down we found our way to the beach. we ended the night with a authentic Italian meal from the couple that own the hostel.