Thursday, February 14, 2013

Nicaraguan Adventure - Part 5 (Volcan Masaya)

If you're ever looking to try something new, to feel a sense of adventure, and specifically to feel like you might be blown up at any second, you may want to try Volcan Masaya.  It's easy to hear the phrase "active volcano" and think, OK, they probably mean "active" as in "active adult community," but in this case, they mean active as in "the Pope is an active member of the Catholic church."

Upon arriving at the Masaya National Park, you're greeted with a bulletin board showing the death and destruction from the last eruption, which in this case was about seven months earlier.  Then they make each person take a training (we assume that's what it was, because it was in Spanish), sign two waivers (again, in Spanish, so one of them could have been a promissory note for all we know), don hard hats and then promise not to stay at the top for more than five minutes (due to the toxic gases).

After changing our kids' diapers for all these years, Suzy was unfazed and dashed right up that mountain.

It really was amazing.  We didn't see any explosions, nor were we burnt to a crisp by flowing lava.  But, we got to look right down into the giant caldera, which emitted a constant column of smoke and gasses straight up into the sky as far as the eye could see.  Every once in a while the smoke would clear just enough to provide a hazy view of the giant chasm, which must have been at least a thousand feet below.  And the spookiest part was the constant sound of rocks popping and shifting somewhere below us.

The Nicaraguans have a love-hate relationship with Volcan Masaya, which is depicted in their art.  This photo is of a large mural that portrays a catastrophic lava flow in the 1700s, which wiped out a town at the base of Masaya.

On the other hand, as seen in the below painting, the Nicaraguans assign a spiritual/mystic quality to the mountain, seeing it as a symbol of abundant life due to the rich soils it has deposited in the valley below.  Indeed, despite the dangers, the mountain is surrounded by cities, villages and farms.

And I just like this next photo because I happened to capture Suzy's surprise about 0.2 seconds after an 80-year-old woman had swung her machete to hack off the tip of the coconut in Suzy's hand.  In case you're wondering, Suzy didn't actually enjoy drinking the coconut juice, but the idea sure seemed romantic.

 View from the top.

This probably isn't the best place to build a summer home, but if you're ever in the neighborhood, Volcan Masaya is a really fun adventure.

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