Category Archives: Nicaragua

Isle De Ometepe: Volcano Island

I heard there was an island here in Nicaragua made from two giant volcanoes years and years ago, situated in Lake Nicaragua. The island is loaded with cool stuff you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Let’s go!

We stayed in San Juan too long. It was time to get the heck up outta there. Naked Tiger was easily one of the best hostels I’ve ever stayed in, but it was time to move on. Ryan, Lisa, and Tyson were all headed off to new areas. Deb, Luke, and I stuck together there after. The three of us packed our bags and took a cab to the ferries near Rivas. Those ferries were our gate to Isle De Ometepe, my Volcano Island.

A map of Ometepe.
A map of Ometepe.

It was a little confusing once we got to the ferry port. There was a lot of construction and our Spanish was lacking so it was difficult to navigate. We finally found a ferry that would take is to the island.

Deb, Luke, and I.
Deb, Luke, and I.

Lisa warned us not to take the fast ferry, it was filled with intense fumes from the boars engine. She insisted that instead we should pay a few cordobas more for the slower, but bigger ferry. The bigger ferry didn’t depart until three hours later. The fast little ferry was ready then and now. So we took that one. And boy was Lisa right, the fumes were pretty nauseating. But since this was a boat, I took two motion sick pills that knocked me right out. Boats are the worst offender when it comes to my queasiness, so I had to take two. I was so out cold that I didn’t feel Luke or the ticket collector trying to wake me up to collect my money. I woke up a little later though, gave the guy my money, and climbed to the top deck. I felt great!

Captain Sellers Abroad.
Captain Sellers Abroad.

Once we finally landed, we were bombarded with taxi drivers wanting to take us all over the place. Even though the island was fairly small, it was still big enough to take a taxi or motorbike everywhere. We found a lady who would take us to the opposite side of the island for a decent price. The opposite side is where all the hostels and restaurants were that we didn’t bother to book in advance. I was lucky enough to have Luke and Deb who were fully on board with the whole winging it process. We stuffed our bags and ourselves in the woman’s jeep. Two other backpackers from Germany joined us, Leo and Anne. They squished themselves into the front seat and we were off!

The woman dropped us off at a hostel that was fairly central. Instead of looking for other places that were recommended to us by other backpackers, we just decided to stay here. Luke, Deb, and I shared a dorm with two others while Leo and Anna were put in another. The five of us decided to stick together for the remainder of our time on the island. I had a good feeling about our new German comrades. Both of them reminded me of two other German friends of mine almost down to the tee! Leo was a copy of my buddy Eric who I met in South Africa and Anne was the copy of my friend Elisa who I met in Vietnam. If you recall, I visited both Eric and Elisa in Germany last September.

We settled into our dorm and walked around the area. After several minutes, we realized that everything was spaced out and far apart. We’d need to rent motorbikes for sure, otherwise we’d die. We found a rental company just a few yards away from our hostel. The three of us decided to rent two motorbikes and split the costs. Both Luke and I had experience with motorbikes, so we’d be the main drivers with Deb riding along the back. We drove around looking for food and failed miserably when we figured that our hostel served up the best food. So we went back there. On the way back, Deb asked if she could drive a bike. There was a brief silence. Luke and I looked at each other. 

“Have you ever ridden a bike before?” I asked, not sure whether this was a good idea or not.

She mentioned she has before, but just once, for a very short time, a long time ago. Luke and I looked at each other again, thinking the exact same thing. Neither of us wanted to ride with little asian Debbie, but neither of us could say no to her. Luke hopped on the back of my bike while we let Deb ride out for herself. It was really funny looking back on it now. She did a decent job but still…I couldn’t. 

Little Debbie.
Little Debbie.

We got word that there was a pizza party happening at night a couple of kilometers down the road, with live bands, and lots of local drinks. I wasn’t too keen on the drinking aspect but still it sounded like a good time. Luke wasn’t feeling the best and went to bed early while the rest of us ventures out to the pizza party to find that it was actually a big hippie fiesta. The air was drenched in marijuana and everyone had dreadlocks and colorful loose clothing. There was no live band, but there was pizza.

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One girl there said she felt a a positive aura from the bracelet I was wearing. It’s the green, yellow, and black one Quyen gave me right before I left Vietnam. 

“I like that you’re Jamaican”, she said.

“I’m from the USA”, I responded back. 

She apologized profusely but I told her not to worry about it. I get mistaken for a lot of things: South African, Moroccan, Guatemalan, a soccer player, a basketball player, even a drug dealer sometimes; it’s all good. One guy in San Juan was convinced he bought weed from me before. That’ll be the day. I take them all as compliments though.

The next day was the day we all planned to ride around the island. Leo and Anne rented themselves a bike and so we all began our custom tour together. We got word of a natural spring a few kilometers outward. We found the place, paid a small fee and entered the semi-natural pool. It was fresh water that was cool and felt great! I could have swam in there all day long! There were swings hanging off the trees where we could launch off and dive right in!

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Tarzan Leo!
Tarzan Leo!

Honestly, the spot was perfect for me but there was way more of the island to see. Deb asked if she could drive again and so she did, but this time I rode on the back of Luke’s bike. We drove about a half hour west and had lunch at a small shack we found on the road. Afterwards we headed to Charco Verde, one of the best beaches in Ometepe.

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We located a trail that took us around a loop up a small incline that gave us a view of an area of the island with a small lake inside.

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Then we ventured further along to Charco Verde where I claimed my sixth bottle of sand on this trip. The sand here were like small dark pebbles. There was a lot of debris I had to filter out.

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As I was filling up an empty bottle of sand, out of nowhere a small black horse galloped along the secluded beach with no owner in sight. It was like seeing a rare Pokemon pop up out of nowhere. I just had to catch take a picture of it!

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Once we got back to our bikes, Deb, Luke, and I thought it would be a good idea to get back to the rental station to return them. We only had the bikes for 24 hours and if we were late, who knows how much they would charge us. Leo and Anne continued onto the other side of the island to watch the sunset. We returned our bikes just in time and were able to catch the sunset behind our hostel.

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We were only on the island for two days because all three of us had to leave because we all had plans, all in Costa Rica. Both Deb and Luke had separate flights to catch in San Jose while I had a few friends you may remember from my blog a long time ago that I wanted to visit. Leo and Anne stayed behind to spend more time on the island while the three of us packed our stuff and headed back to the mainland first thing in the morning.

Off to Costa Rica!!

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Sunday Freaking Funday: Pool Crawl

Drink. Drank. Drunk.

Every Sunday here in San Juan Del Sur, one of the most happening of happenings happens–Sunday Funday! Not just any old Sunday Funday, this one is a giant-sized bar/pool crawl! If you stay at the Naked Tiger, it’s practically a must. The fee is $30, but guests at the hostel only pay $15. Luke, Deb, Tyson, Ryan, Lisa, myself, and everyone we met at the hostel and then some others we met since León were all in!

I woke up at eight the morning of, prepped as I could ever be. The night before, I brought up a boatload of water from town (it was a little cheaper there than buying from my hostel) and kept it on my top bunk. That water is going to be essential later. Sober me was doing drunk me a huge favor. I had some breakfast downstairs and a couple of Toña beers to start of the morning. I taught the non-American backpackers how to play corn-hole near the pool a few days ago and ever since we’ve been having some intense games between us. I couldn’t believe they’ve never heard of the game before. Corn-hole is essential for any tailgate in the States.

Once 10:30am hit, the tickets for the Sunday Funday went on sale. A purchase included a wristband and a singlet (tank top) for the occasion. I don’t always wear a singlet, but when I do, it means I’m about to get my drink on and do stupid things. Like I did here, here, and here. It’s the backpacker thing to do I guess.

From now on, it’s nothing but beer. The crawl didn’t start until around 1pm, but since the day was perfect, we began poolside of course.

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The plan today was to go to three different bars, all equipped with swimming pools. The Naked Tiger would be the second stop of the three. Once the time came, a shuttle picked us up and took us to the first bar which was located in town. I can’t remember the name of the place but it was packed! It was a pool crawl after all so Alan (UK), another backpacker from Naked Tiger, and I jumped right in and then hit up the bar. By this point I was already feeling it, this early in the game.

The first bar. I don't remember the name of it though...
The first bar. I don’t remember the name of it though…

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Alan, Tyson, Ryan, Lisa.
Alan, Tyson, Ryan, Lisa.
We even got tatted up!
We even got tatted up!

I was getting hungry. A few of us dipped out of the bar and walked to the nearby burrito place down the street. I had myself two freakin’ delicious beef burritos. A couple of us thought it would be a good idea to grab some
booze down here since it was much cheaper and then sneak it back to our hostel, since the Naked Tiger was the next stop anyways. And so we did. We bought some rum, some coke and poured that rum into those cokes. We grabbed another shuttle that took us back to the hostel earlier than when we were supposed to. We were the only ones there before the hoard of backpackers arrived on the scene.

Two backpackers Molly and Robina also enjoyed our rum and coke sneak attacks.
Two backpackers Molly and Robina also enjoyed our rum and coke sneak attacks.

Everyone finally arrived wondering where we went. “We just had the munchies!” we would say. Eventually we joined the crowd downstairs who invaded our hostel. Alan and I had a really great time throwing innocent bystanders into the pool. It was a pool crawl after all. I also got thrown in probably a dozen times.

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The next and final bar took us back into town to another bar. Before we got on the shuttle I was already almost dead from all the booze and pool throwing. “Did someone lace these drinks with something special?” Still, I wanted to do the whole Sunday Funday and go to every bar no matter what. And the only reason I remember these events is because of my perpetual habit to pull out my phone, take pictures, leave clues, and jot notes for sober Daniel to figure out in the morning.

Done.
Done.

When we arrived to the last bar, it’s like we teleported because I closed my eyes and when I opened we were there. I had no business going into that third bar which was a club on the beach. I needed food…again. Thankfully, a few of the others regained the same munchie status and were on board for more food. We went back to the burrito place. We also went back to the corner store to buy more cheap booze that we wanted but definitely did not need. For real we didn’t need those. Luke bought a sparkling water thinking it was a beer. Crazy Australian. I do recall, two backpackers from Denmark who never had a burrito before and so I was glad to share in their moment. This was the perfect spot for their very first burrito because these particular burritos were the best! I’d know because I had nine of them since I’ve been in San Juan. That’s no exaggeration folks.

The taste of their very first burrito.
The taste of their very first burrito.

We took a different shuttle back up to the Naked Tiger. There were eight of us total making the short trip to a very sloppy game of spin-the-bottle. No more needs to be said about that. Just like before, with a blink of an eye we were magically teleported back to our hostel and we found the place was empty. Everybody was still at the third bar. Even the bartenders were gone. They left everything out in the open, including their jug of mixed whatever it was sitting on the bar top. Of course we drank some and of course we snuck behind the bar.

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Immediately afterwards, all eight of us jumped into the pool near a sleeping Ryan and Lisa who were completely passed out on one of the pool beds. We splashed about, cannonballing, and flipping and throwing each other in. We were pretty loud and obnoxious but no one was around to tell us to shut up. Even Ryan and Lisa laid there completely unconscious to what was going on. They had a rough day. Ryan has been trying to beat the record for fastest guest to take two shots and shot-gun a beer the fastest. After a few tries, he eventually beat the record of 4.50 seconds (or something like that) and had his name placed on the wall behind the bar for everyone to see.

Afterwards I don’t remember anything else. Drunk me didn’t take anymore photos or jot down anymore notes. I woke up the next morning in pain. Not the hangover kind, but physical pain. My legs were sore with gashes on my knees and ankles. What the heck? Did I fall a lot yesterday? My wrists hurt. Probably from throwing people into the pool all day. That was really fun, by the way. I checked the notes on my phone to find a bunch of gibberish that only I could decipher. I checked my wallet to find all my money was gone. I don’t think anyone stole it but rather my intoxicated overly generous self must have spent it all at the bars or probably the burritos. It was a lot of money. I saw all my water bottles were empty which was great because I didn’t feel too bad from a hangover. I really had to pee though. The bathroom in my room was locked from the inside and so I crept downstairs to find people passed out everywhere: the chairs, the hammocks, near the pool, and even on the bar stool. I went to the main restrooms to find the floors were flooded, dead lizards here and there, and crumples of soiled toilet paper all over the place. It was absolutely gross but I had to go. When I walked back into the main area, I found Ryan awake from the little sleep he got the night before. He didn’t hear us splashing around all night, but instead a couple and their special guest next to him woke him up from their “extracurricular” activities. It sounded horrible. Luke and a few others were still passed out when I checked on them. Wonder how they’re feeling? Deb reminded me that I was trying to look for coke (the bad kind) for her and the Jon Snow look-a-like last night. The Danish backpackers in my room slowly rolled out of their bed like zombies. I couldn’t find my swimming trunks.

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I’d say Sunday Funday was a success! Let’s move on from San Juan Del Sur shall we?

Surf The Sky And Other Ways To Fly

The best thing about this unplanned trip is never knowing exactly what I’ll be getting myself into. For example, I didn’t know that I was going to surf the sky!

…Well kinda…

We stayed an extra day in the city of Granada, Nicaragua, which is similar in appearance to Antigua, Guatemala except without the cobblestone roads and fireworks.

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We stayed at a hostel called the Panda Lodge, which was simple and basic. All I really need is a bed and decent wi-fi for blogging purposes and I’m all set. Luke, Tyson, Deb, and I decided to head further down Nicaragua to the town of San Juan Del Sur, also known as the backpacking capital of Nicaragua.

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This time we opted to take a couple of chicken buses all the way to San Juan, which proved to be extremely cheap but a hassle. Honestly, it wasn’t too bad. The price more than made up for the slight discomfort. The chicken bus dropped us off at the front of the entrance to our planned hostel, The Naked Tiger. We’ve heard many great things about this place which is known as the party hostel of San Juan. While backpacking, it’s neat to submerge in atmospheres like this because exciting stories always come from it and there’s always tons of new people to meet. A shuttle truck belonging to the Naked Tiger picked us up and drove us to the hostels entrance which was situated on a hill overlooking San Juan Del Sur and its Pacific Ocean.

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At first glance, the hostel looked more like a resort. I couldn’t believe how upscale and cushy it was. This was the party hostel I’ve heard so much about? More like resort hostel. One of the best looking hostels I’ve ever stayed in. We were greeted with a free can of Toña beer and a beer bong. Now THAT is how you greet a guest at a hostel!

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Everyday at 5:15, just before sunset, everyone grabs a beer and gathers on the pools edge looking out towards the sun. Then all at once, everyone shotguns their beer. It’s tradition here that I was more then happy to take part.

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It was becoming more and more apparent that this was indeed the partay hostel I’ve heard so much about. Two backpackers we met in El Salvador, Ryan (Australia) and Lisa (Canada), moved from their hostel in the town center up to the Naked Tiger with us. They really are good people.

One day, Luke, Tyson, Deb, and I went down into town with the intention of climbing up to the Jesus statue we saw on a cliff at the end of the beach. Luke and Tyson split to find a volunteering opportunity while Deb and I continued towards the statue. Nicaragua is freaking hot so halfway there, I just couldn’t be bothered going there anymore. We turned around and went back along the beach and that’s when I saw it. A sign with a picture of a guy on a hover board gliding above water. It looked as though he was surfing in the sky! I darted towards the ad and saw a woman nearby at a stand with a list of extreme activities on the beach.

“What. Is. This?” I asked her with a huge grin on my face.

She giggled. “It’s fly boarding. You have to try it!”

She was a saleswoman that undoubtedly gets paid to say that, but I didn’t need any convincing. It was love at first sight. I looked over at Deb and told her, “I have to do this.” There was no question about it.

I asked the woman all sorts of questions and scheduled myself to fly board the following day just before sunset. It cost a pretty penny though- $90 for twenty minutes of flying or $140 for forty minutes. If I didn’t do it then I would regret it forever. I went back to the Naked Tiger, happier than ever.

The next day, around 4:30pm, I took the shuttle down to the beach and there she was waiting for me. I didn’t think I would get motion sick from this but I didn’t take any chances, especially after the debacle I had flying in the Himalayas, so I took one Dramamine. The woman showed me my board, which was the size of a skateboard with a whole lot of bulkiness. I felt its weight.

“This thing is gonna drag me down to the bottom of the ocean!” I told her while investigating it.

“No, it’s perfectly safe. You’ll be wearing a life vest and the hose attached at the bottom will propel you up” she said, always with a smile. Everything she said was with a genuine smile.

Underneath the board was an attachment for a giant hose, about 15 meters long that will connect to a jet ski. From what I understood, there would be a guide on a jet ski shooting up water through the hose to my board, thus lifting me into the air. It sounded and looked like this was going to be difficult.

“It’s easier than it looks” she said. “Most people are able to stand within the first five minutes.”

I hope she’s right because this looks pretty hard. She gave me a really brief training lesson about proper positioning and what not to do when I’m in the air. Keep your legs straight at first but then crouch as if you were snowboarding, but in the sky! It was go time. I walked towards the shore into the water where my guide was waiting. I floated on my back and stuck my feet into the heavy board as onlookers watched. I was the only one in the water doing this at the time.

“Just lay down and I’ll propel you further out” he said.

He proceeded to pump water into the hose attached to my board as his jet ski took off. I began to glide effortlessly in the water, further out into deeper territory away from the boats and swimmers near the shore. I just laid there in my life vest. It was actually pretty relaxing. Then he gave me a thumbs up.

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The woman at the stand told me to stand straight up in the water when I began to feel pressure from the water on full blast. I lifted up, almost as if I were levitating, so that my knees were out of the water, but then I quickly fell back in. I attempted again. Same thing. Then I tried again until I was completely out of the water and floating in the air. I was instructed to “surf” in big circles close to the jet ski. Subtle movements was all it took to move the board around. It felt almost like I was snowboarding! Green Goblin!

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At points I would ascend so high that when I looked down, I got nervous and would lose my balance. Boarding was fine but when you fell in the water, you fell hard. It hurt a lot!

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“Dive head first when you fall!” shouted the guide.

Easier said than done bro. It was hard to control a fall when my feet were attached to what felt like a cement block. I tried to dolphin jump in and out of the water, like the pros did on the ads, but failed miserably with a painful bellyflop from meters in the air. I didn’t try that again. Even just holding a GoPro was distracting. I stuck with my gliding circles which I perfected by the end of my twenty minutes.

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If I had to describe the feeling of fly boarding in one word, it’d be ‘weird’. I felt like I was on a hovercraft. It was one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever felt. My twenty minutes were up and as much as I wanted to continue, I was pretty water logged from falling so much. Twenty minutes was a good amount of time for my first go.

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When I got back to Naked Tiger, I wanted to relive the moments I had fly boarding and do it again! Neat thing here is if I wanted to do it a second time, I’d get $20 off the regular price. I showed Luke and other backpackers pictures my guide took with the GoPro and they were quite impressed. I may have sold the idea to a few of them. I wanted to do it again the next day but I had other plans.

Tomorrow is what they call ‘Sunday Funday’, which turned out to be one of my most fondest, silliest Sundays on this trip thus far!

Howlin’ In The Nicaraguan Jungle

The further down Central America we went, greener jungles grew abundant with animals more exotic than before. Luke and I, and our two new backpacking buddies Deb and Tyson, took a free shuttle in Granada to Poste Rojo Tree House Hostel in a jungle just outside of the main city. I was thrilled to go to this place after I’ve heard so many great things about it from Jaryd and other backpackers we met on our route. Plus, jungle settings are probably my most favorite of all the settings in the world! We joined another solo traveler from Finland in the back of a pickup truck up to the tree house entrance about 20 minutes away.

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My backpack was the heaviest it has ever been from all the sand and wine bottles I’ve been collecting over the past few months. Like for real heavy. It’s been a strain on my back and especially my shoulders. When I saw we had to hike up the green mountain to the treetops, I wasn’t too thrilled, but it had to be done. Did someone exchange my clothes for bricks? It felt like I was carrying a boulder on my back! Not to mention my small carryon bag which was completely stuffed turkey with dirty clothes, gizmos, and other worldly entities I’ve scooped up over the months. Going up the hill was quite the workout. People in the army do this? I can’t complain, but it was completely worth it once we got to the top. It took about 15 minutes. My bags dropped off my body like an anchor into the sea, except onto a wooden floor suspended in the trees. We were literally in a giant sized tree house made for fun!

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It was so secluded that we ended up being the only guests there, save for another couple from Montreal that has already been there for one night.

“How do you like it here?” I asked them. Even though I already knew I would love it, I asked them anyway to see what they said.

“It’s great!” said Alexis, the boyfriend of the two. “But I must warn you of the howler monkeys that howl in the early morning that keeps you from sleeping.”

We were so high in the trees that the monkeys appear right next to you making all sorts of noises just as the sun begins to rise. Not to mention all the bugs and birds joining in on the party. Little Aakash of Nepal was the loudest little thing that ever woke me up in the mornings, so I was more than ready for the howling monkeys. They got nothing on Aakash.

We didn’t have any beds here, we’d all be sleeping in hammocks. Those hammocks were on another treetop that we’d access by a suspended red bridge that shook with each step you took. It was too cool and linked the two main houses together.

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There was one big closet where we could secure all of our bags nearby from snooty jungle bandits who crept at night. No pillows or blankets here, it was just us and the hammocks. Screw that! I had my travel pillow and sleeping bag I planned on using on the hammock at night because I was told it does get a little chilly at night. Underneath the tree house was a large swing that swing out into the open. If you fell off, it meant certain injuries for sure.

The bar in the main treehouse was decorated with all sorts of Nicaraguan signs, caricatures, and drawings from guests who stayed previously.

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Even better, they were stocked with Butterfingers, my favorite candy bar in all the land! Reese’s is actually number one but it’s not a “bar” per say. It’s hard to describe a Butterfinger to my foreign friends. Australian Luke has never had one and thought it looked…so so. The girl from Finland tried a bite of mine and thought it was rancid. It’s chocolate and peanut butter but the peanut butter is crispy and has a distinct taste, different from any candy bar ever.

Besides the chocolate, they did serve actual food here. The menu was set daily and since we were stuck here, we had no choice but to eat whatever they gave us. Thankfully, it tasted delicious: gallo pinto, plantains, and chicken for dinner. It wasn’t enough for my big appetite (it’s never enough) but it did the trick. I ordered coke after coke, sprite after sprite, Butterfinger after Butterfinger. I was a fat kid living it up (literally) in the canopy!

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That same day, Luke, Tyson, Deb, and I wanted to explore our surroundings. We went further up the hill and came across a barbed wired fence. It was meant for no passing but…I crossed over it anyways and convinced the others to join me. We hiked up the jungly mountain not knowing where we’d end up.

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We came across a bamboo forest, some of it cleared out, and to a pass when suddenly we heard howler monkeys going crazy nearby. We froze but ventured a little further and saw the monkeys in the trees above us. We’ve gone a bit further before we decided to turn back. The day was fading and getting dark. It’d be pitch dark soon and we’d get lost out here if we were stuck at night. We got a little lost on our way back but found ourselves before the sun completely let up.

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There wasn’t too much to do in the tree house and that was the whole point. Chill on the hammock, read a good book, listen to music, and nap away.

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When we finally went to sleep I was grateful that I had a sleeping bag and a pillow. The sounds of the bugs, distant animals, and winds together conducted an orchestra that lulled me fast to sleep. I was warm and snug while the others were shivering away at night. I felt bad but there really wasn’t anything I could do. The monkeys in the morning were there but they weren’t as obnoxious as I was led to believe. They must have been taking it easy today. I slowly rose from my hammock to find Luke and Tyson uncomfortably on the floor wrapped in jackets and sweaters. It was then that the others decided that one night here was enough. The hammocks were uncomfortable for them and it was too cold at night, they couldn’t bare it again. I, on the other hand, was content but I felt one day and night was enough also.

Before we left, I wanted to put my footprint on the ceiling. It’s tradition here at the treehouse to paint the bottom of your feet and climb up the tree trunks and plant your feet on the ceiling. It’s a little odd but still unique. Who would think to do that? Handprints I could understand, but feet? I stepped in a puddle of lime green paint, shuffled up a tree and found an empty space to paint.

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My mark will be left there for years to come, hopefully. I left a trail of green drops of paint all the way to the outdoor shower stall. I washed my hands and feet while a cheeky giraffe made out of clay watched me, poking it’s head over the shower walls. I still couldn’t get all the green off me.

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Luke left earlier in the morning to go back to Granada. He offered to help make piñatas for a local organization he came across on the internet. I carried my heavyweights and also his bag all the way back down the mountain and back to Granada where we reunited at our hostel for the day.

“You owe me a beer dude!” I said to him while drenched in sweat. What a workout! Onwards further down Nicaragua we go!

Volcano Boarding 101: Cerro Negro

I’ve experienced many adrenaline rushes during my travels: shark cage diving, multiple skydives, bungee jumps, serious hikes, canyoning, white water rafting, etc. But never have I surfed down an active volcano. I didn’t even know such a thing existed!

The only place in the world to do so is in Nicaragua on Volcan Cerro Negro, located in the western region of the country, close to the city of León. It’s the thing to do in Nicaragua.

The are a few companies that host volcano boarding in León. Bigfoot Hostel, my accommodation, is one of the places that does. For 31 US dollars, we got a shuttle to and from the volcano, a free singlet shirt displaying the hostels logo, a liter of water, and a can of Victoria beer and a mojito for when we were finished. My friend Luke and I booked the night prior and were ready by nine the next morning. There were about thirty adrenaline junkies total in our group. We were shuttled into the back of a large truck and drove through the backlands outside of León towards Cerro Negro.

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After about an hour, we arrived to the gated entrance to the volcano where we each had to pay a $5 fee. The fee pays for the workers who monitor the volcano everyday, studying for any possible signs of potential eruptions. We hiked about 45 minutes up what our guide said “is one of the most active volcanoes in the world.”

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It was a short, manageable hike up to the windy top–Nothing but gravel and wind.

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The only way back down was to board down. Well, I guess you could hike back but it would have been a shame.

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The record is 97 kilometers per hour. I wasn’t focused on beating it, honestly I just wanted a good shot from the camera woman standing near the middle of the rubbled track. Hopefully she knew what she was doing. I sat on my wooden plank, about the size of a snowboard, modified with a curved hedge for breaking wind and sheets of smooth plastic underneath to decrease friction. I put on my googles and held onto the rope attached to the board. Then, the guide gave me the go ahead. I scooted and skirted, shoving myself along. The start of the track was loose and practically horizontal, but soon its slope began to steepen and I started to take off. Dust bellowed from underneath me as I looked for the camera woman standing midway down the track. I grinned a smile for her and sped up by extending my legs outward and leaning backwards.

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My board began to wobble and as I tried to regain my composure, I fell off to the side and I tumbled a couple of feet downward. I was completely unscathed. The orange jumpsuit I wore completely protected me. I crawled to my now buried board and rubbed the volcanic rubble off of it. If anyone was laughing at me, I couldn’t hear anything. All I heard was the fierce wind blowing around me. I sat back on my board and proceeded to scoot. I wanted to finish in a blaze of glory. I found my balance, extended legs out and leaned as far back as I felt comfortable. My board was smokin’! I could feel it heating up underneath me. Pebbles and ashes were shooting at my face; some in my mouth. The faster I went, the easier it was to control my board. I saw the guy with the speed gun shooting at me to capture my velocity. I was practically lying down completely horizontal when the board came to a grinding halt as I reached the base of the volcano.

“Good job!” I heard someone shout as they clapped.

I sat up on my board and spat out wafts of pebbles and ash that flew into my mouth. I stood up with a gigantic grin on my face. That was one of the most wild things I’ve ever done! Surfing down an active volcano was everything I imagined it to be, minus the lava.

“Cincuenta y nueve!” shouted the man who recorded everyones speed.

My top speed was 59 km/h. Not too shabby for my first go, but no where near the record. The fastest female of the day went to a girl named Deb (Indonesia). She flew at 65 km/h at the expense of small rocks flying up her nose and swallowing it through her throat. She’s a beast.

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I wanted to go again but I wanted to go faster. This company didn’t let you do so, but I heard there was another company that gave you the option of going twice. Maybe next time. At least we were rewarded with an ice-cold beer for our efforts.

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Luke and I stayed one more night at Big Foot hostel before we departed further down Nicaragua to the city of Granada. On the shuttle was Deb and another backpacker named Tyson (Halifax, Canada) among others. The four of us realized we were heading down the same direction in Nicaragua and decided to stick together. Instead of going straight to the main city of Granada, we opted to live amongst the trees for awhile in what was one of the most unique accommodations I have ever stayed in!

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