Hey all! Let´s talk about Leon - northern Nicaragua, very old churches, lovely people and a string of volcanoes as a backdrop. Team New Zealand (that's me, Johnny and his old flatmate Brendan) arrived to Leon on the Friday. That night we had a brewski or two and booked in the next day's adventure - volcano boarding.
After a frantic and unsuccessful search in the market for shoes on Saturday morning, it was decided Brendan would not be braving the volcano with Johnny and I.
We trucked through farmland towards the towering black cone of cerro negro. It was only once we reached the foot of the volcano that they told us we were heading up on foot, laden with 'volcano board'(a slab of hardboard fashioned into a sled), jumpsuit and goggles. The walk wasn't so bad, until we reached the crest, where strong winds threatened to blow us over the edge!! Nonetheless the smouldering crater, and the stark contrast of charcoal grey rock against bright green foliage, with volcanoes peeking all around us was quite a site to behold.
At the point of descent we donned our safety gear, and received our briefing from guide Hugh, which involved frequent use of the phrase "crash and burn". The steep slope is not powdery ash you see, but pokey gravel. Nonetheless we slid down rapidly and with very little ¨crashing and burning¨(maybe just a little) - it was kind of like when you slide down a grass hill on cardboard as a kid - but triple the speed and danger factor - oooohhh... Johnny got clocked at 42km and I at a measley 22km - although I was going much, much faster before they took the reading - honest!!
That afternoon we visited an amazing art museum (it even had a few scribblings of Picaso´s!), ate hamburgers and drank beer with an interesting Chilean musician and his silent Argentinian friend. Sunday we said a fond farewell to Brendan who was off to Mexico (literally a two day bus trip), and Johnny and I remained to visit the Ruben Darío museum. Ruben Darío was a very famous poet and ambassador who was born right there in Leon. Very good sir, very good.