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Published: July 15th 2014
Summit Volcán Concepción - a 1,610 m (5,282 ft) active volcano in Nicaragua = check! Our weekend trip to the Isla de Ometepe (Ometepe Island) has definitely taken its spot as the highlight trip of my time here so far. Together with the other interns I have been to Volcán Masaya, Mirador de Catarina (viewpoint), Granada and Volcán Mombacho, León (Volcano boarding!), Estelí and Reserva Natural Tisey, Playa Jiquelite
(beach on the south pacific coast near Tola), and now la Isla de Ometepe
. Every weekend has been incredible, but this past one has definitely surpassed the others. We had heard that Ometepe was a place we couldn't miss when in Nicaragua, and I wholeheartedly agree. I only wish we had more time there! We only had a little over 2 days on the island, and only got to see one half, but we did succeed in climbing Volcán Concepción, and it was absolutely worth it. After reading a bunch of reviews online and going back and forth between hiking Concepción and Maderas (the two volcanos on the island), we finally decided to stick with Concepción. While the volcano is not the highest one ever or even the highest in Nicaragua (it's
the second highest), and the trail is only around 12 km (7 miles), it took 9 hours to summit and was one of the hardest hikes I have done in a long time. There is a mirador (lookout point) at 1000 m which is the most popular stopping point for hikers, mostly due to the fact that any higher than that you have basically no hope of a view since the mountain is clouded in the majority of days of the year. The hike to that point is a solid 3 hours (plenty of breaks included), moderate difficulty, on a fairly established path through the jungle. But who can make it that far and not finish the hike? So, of course, we continued to the top, clouds and all. The final 610 meters (about 2 km more) become more of a scramble up the volcanic rock and ash than a hike due to the recent volcanic activity. Difficult, but do-able, especially with a guide to find the path since the clouds are so thick. Finally the summit! And we couldn't see anything. But we made it! If the clouds DO happen to part, supposedly you can see the lava in
the crater as well as to both coasts of Nicaragua and down the chain of volcanoes to the north, which I am sure would be spectacular. Sadly, it was not one of those days. If we had stopped there and magically transported to the base of the volcano I am sure I would have been completely fine, but the decent on the slippery rocks and ash chutes (it had rained that morning) at a very steep incline made for a very slow decent to the mirador and was a killer on the knees. There was a lot of butt-scooting and falls, but it wouldn't have been the same if we could've just sauntered down the mountain. All part of the experience, right? It is now 2 days later and with my 21-year-old old-woman joints it is still one of the most painful things to do down the stairs. On the other hand, one of the other interns that also did the hike is currently on a run, so there you go.
Just to spite us however, the volcano of course cleared up the next day and we could see the top. There was a huge tropical storm with thunder,
lightening, the works, which we had heard means the summit clears up for a little while, and of course proved to be the case. I can't say I'm not a tad disappointed we didn't have the opportunity to see the view from the top, but we had quite the experience and the volcano was still impressive to see from the base.
Another highlight of the island trip was the first day we arrived when another intern and I rented bikes and took them down the coast to the Charco Verde reserve. It was not actually the reserve, but rather our wonderful lunch adventure that was the highlight. There were no comedors (places to eat) in sight, so we stopped in a pueblo along the way (Los Angeles) and asked for the nearest place to eat. We were directed to a little green house and told to ask the woman who lived there to make us some food. That is how we met Dulce, the sweetest woman (who clearly deserves her name), and ate a delicious and very cheap meal of classic Nica food, rice and beans were included - surprise! We also stopped on our way back from the
reserve for some frozen fresh fruit juice and an hour just chatting with Dulce. If I ever make it back to the island, I would definitely consider staying with her or one of the other local families that rent out rooms in their homes to visitors. It would make for such a difference experience than the tourist-crowded town of Moyogalpa.
Only 2 more weeks of work left, and I just got my repaired computer back! (3 weeks later...) That means there is a lot of wrapping up, class agendas and manuals to print and put together into booklets to leave for future classes, and a presentation to do for my supervisor (the head nurse) and the director of the hospital about the classes and the multitude of reasons why they are worth it be continued after I leave. These weeks will be gone in a blink of an eye.
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