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Chinandega, Nicaragua: Dia Dos

This morning we started out with breakfast. Had the option to go to Church and I took it. Great chance to visit the culture of the place, even if I wasn’t going to be able to understand what was said. The place was humble by European church standards, but this is a humble town in a humble country.

It was pretty cool – first communion for a bunch of kids. Some people thought it was a terrible thing, but I thought it was a great experience! That made the service drag on a bit so I jumped outside and snapped some photos.When that was over the choir, composed entirely of kids, did a Spanish version of what I think was Blowin’ in the Wind.

One thing I noticed is that all the candelabras used fluorescent bulbs. For a greener Nicaragua or because electricity costs so much? But if a small church that serves a poor population in one of the poorest countries in the world can afford replace their lights, why can’t most Americans?

After that we came back to the house and changed clothes. We were going to climb up a volcano! Cerra Negra – Black Mountain – is an inactive, though not dormant, volcano made entirely of black pumice stone. It’s a huge pile of heat-attracting sand and gravel with sharp edges. And its face is almost straight up for 2000+ feet. Who came up with this idea again?

We got started and it was slow going. Up 2 feet, slide back down 1 foot. Again and again. The group quickly got separated as some climbed quickly, others more slowly. Mostly climbing on our hands and feet due to the grade, it was kind of miserable. About 1/4 of the way up I wanted to turn back; 1/3 of the way I was concerned for my life; 1/2 of the way I was concerned for my sanity. By 3/4 of the way I had a technique and it was a bit easier. And when I looked down the people looked smaller than the people at the top for the first time. By 4/5 of the way up I was convinced I could make it. The grade leveled out a bit and it got easier even though I was exhausted.

When I got to the top it was worth it. My legs were quivering but the view made up for it. And the PB&J we’d packed for lunch was delicious! There was a nice breeze, some cloud cover had moved in and it was nice. I walked around the top and looked down into the caldera, photographing the steamy sulfur rising. We waited for the rest to join then began the descent.

It was faster and much more fun! Essentially you run or jump or slide down the mountain the same way you came up. It was a blast! Everybody was doing it and when I turned up the hill to look at those coming down it was quite a sight! I found that I could somewhat ski down the mountain, almost like cross country skiing. Worth the toll the hike up cost me.

We came home and had dinner quietly. Everybody was exhausted. Bedtime will come quickly tonight.

Shoe Tossing