Volcano Surfing & Semana Santa
Trip Start Feb 11, 2010
48Trip End Jul 15, 2010
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The main reason for our visit to Leon is the volcanoes. We had heard from numerous other travellers about the volcano surfing that is on offer in the city. Leon seems to be surrounded by volcanoes, many of them the most active in Nicaragua
This black hill offers great possibilities for hiking and is our destination of choice for our volcano surfing experience. There are two main companies offering the tours: Big Foot and Quetzal Trekkers. The latter is a non-profit volunteer organisation that offers adventures to raise money for streetkids. We arrived at the office early morning to sign our lives away - admitting all responsibility for whatever might happen on the volcano (apparently people have fallen off the boards and broken things - we go that fast!!!!!).
With paperwork completed the six of us were ready to go, our guides Blake and Sam showed us to our pick-up, finally we got to ride in the back of a pick up. Cerro Negro is about an hours drive from Leon, we drove through "real" Nicaragua, dirt tracks with cows, pigs and horses blocking our way. All the land looked so dry, the closer we got to the volcano the blacker the roads got, covered in ash. Sam told us that the last eruption was back in 1999 so we should be safe. We arrived at the base of the volcano, unloaded our boards from the truck and began our hike to the top. It would have been a pretty steep climb without our boards...with them it was HARD!!! The heat didn`t help, and nor did the wind there were a number of occassions where it seemed we might take off. The terrain is bizarre, almost what you`d expect the moon to be like, we were climbing over small rocks that looked a bit like pieces of coal. The first part of the walk was ok, the second part was horrible - every step you took forward you slid about 5 back!!! The rocks were all steaming from the heat underneath them. The views all around us were absolutely amazing.
Finally we made it to the top, from way up there you can see all the other volcanoes in the surroundings - some of them steaming!!!
Rules of Volcano Surfing...
#1 There are NO brakes...dig your heels in!!!!
#2 Do NOT put your hands on the slope whilst riding
#3 Do NOT bail!!!!!!
Unlike the other companies offering the same trip, Quetzal let you have two attempts. So, shortly after reaching the bottom we had to trek right back to where we`d just come from. This time it was slightly shorter as we hiked along the ridge. Boiler suits back on we set off again. No braking this time...!!!!!
Volcano surfing is AMAZING, not only do you get to hike up the side of an active volcano...you get to slide down it on a sheet of metal reaching speeds of up to 50kmph!!!!
Good Friday is the main day of "mourning" when it comes to Semana Santa, the Latin Americans go for it big time. There are parades all around the city, everyone involved in them or following them are dressed in black. Once again the floats come out, throughout the week the float they are carrying has Jesus at a different stage of the Crucifixion. Todays float had Jesus lying on what seemed like his death bed followed by Mary dressed in black. The whole city appeared to be in the main square watching and following the procession as it did its loop of Leon. The band accompanying the floats always seem to play same tune.