On Friday the 5th of July we took the preschool kids to a playground in town, which they loved and no one misbehaved or got hurt. It’s crazy to think that might have been their first time being at a playground since there are none where they live and they seem to only leave to go to the market, fields, or doctor with their parents. That afternoon Aaron, Mary, and I went to Grenada and we had about 45 minutes added to the travel time because there was a line of buses and cars for a political parade or rifa for President Daniel Ortega and remembering the Revolution. We ended up taking a roundabout, scenic route through a place called El Crucero where it went from hot and tropical to a little of highlands and much cooler and then back down. We stayed in a hostel that was a beautiful old Spanish colonial house with AC and hot showers woooo!!! Then we ate dinner in the tourist strip and I had 4 cheese penne. There was a group of young street dancers breakdancing and using Thriller so we watched them. We got gelati too and it was super good. The next day I actually had fruit for breakfast and we ended up going to a chocolate museum, art gallery, and archaeology of pre-colonial Nicaragua museum.
In the afternoon we drove out to another volcano, Mombacho. We had an hour when we got there before the huge truck (affectionately called The Tank) that takes you to the top left so we squeezed in a little zipline session. That was pretty fun, but we flew through the lines and different sections so fast it was all kind of a blur. I didn’t do all the fancy moves like hanging upside down or flying like Superman, but Mary and Aaron did and they had a blast. We saw two adult monkeys with three baby monkeys in the trees too which was awesome! At the top we hiked up to the crater and it was clear so we saw the islands and then later it got foggy so we were actually in the middle of a cloud. We escaped the downpour on our way down and went to the visitors’ center. There was a large group of British students at the center who were going to spend the night there and they were a bit rowdy and seemed a little under-prepared for any type of hiking. We went back to town and took warm showers and ate out again at a place famous for steak and got more gelati. The next day we went to el Lago del Apoyo which is a beautiful crater lake that is clean and hung out. Mary and I kayaked a little too. Then we headed back to Leon.
The next week I went to salsa class Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in the evening and that was so much fun. It’s pretty fast paced so I’ve been learning a lot. My host brother Bernardo is a part of the group that helps out with the classes so I had someone to go with and a partner who knew what he was doing. The problem will be finding people who know how to dance salsa back home I can practice with. On Thursday Mary and I went to salsa night at a restaurant/dance floor place called La Olla Quemada that is a hotspot for extranjeros and locals alike. Before we went dancing Mary, Aaron, and I made dinner at the office and it was delicious! I made pitaya juice which is a really neat, bright pink fruit that has a skin a little like a pineapple. Mary made guacamole and salsa while Aaron topped off the main courses of salad, plantains, and tacos. It was nice to be able to serve ourselves too, which is something that doesn’t happen very often with our host families. The week itself was kind of slow since all the kids were on vacation.
We went to another volcano, Consiguina, on Friday July 12th and that was an adventure. To get there we had to go on some rutted, dirt roads with deep crevices in it and there was no ranger station, but there was an old man who lived at a gate to enter. The hike was hard because it was so humid, but it actually wasn’t too long. When we got to the top we could see the ocean and two island points that were the countries of El Salvador and Costa Rica. There was a giant crater lake in the middle and the crater was formed, I think, in only 1835 when the volcano blew half its height! We were walking around the rim and we heard a barking sound and I thought it was either weird birds or a bunch of monkeys. It was monkeys! And there was one shaking tree branches with both hands like in documentaries and I was just thinking we should leave before they attack. I remembered all those shows I’ve seen about people who decide to go closer to wild animals that they shouldn’t approach and had horrible things happen to them. There were a lot of low-flying vultures up there too which wasn’t encouraging so we ended up turning back. On our way down it started raining, but I had a poncho so I stayed pretty dry.
On Saturday July 13th I went to a Catholic religious rally with my family which was interesting. It was 3.5 hours in a cramped school bus to get there making the trip seem longer than it was. We watched Life is Beautiful (or La vita é bella in Italian) which is a good movie if you haven’t seen it. It was my second time watching it. The songs at the rally were a bit hard to understand since I didn’t know them already, but the atmosphere was happy and enthusiastic. I met a group from San Pedro, Honduras because it was a Honduras-Nicaragua event.
Me at the cathedral in Grenada
The Tank at Mombacho
Mary and me in the clouds at Mombacho
The crater of Consiguina