Monday, 25 June 2012

Day 56: a hike to remember...

On our third day on the island, we decided to do our own thing. I decided to climb the smaller of the two volcanoes, Maderas, that makes up the island of Ometepe and Luisa stayed behind to help out on the organic farm. I thought it would be quite challenging...how wrong I was! Here are our two accounts of the day...

Luisa's day:

Due to a very sore stomach ache I had to stay behind while Harry and our new friends (3 girls from New Mexico) left to conquer Volcan Maderas.

Cristiano (the El Zopilote farm owner) allowed me to help him out on his organic farm where he grew all his organic plants, veg, fruit and tobacco. He showed me how to use accessory plant material to water and fertilize the other plants.


My favourite plant he grew was aloe vera which leaked the beautifully smelling sap when we were trimming it. It was very therapeutic until a massive toad creeped up on me in the plant bed. I guess he also liked the smell...

I spent the rest of the time cutting up dried tobacco leaves that Cristano sells to tobacco companies. I was then fed lunch with home-grown veggies. 

Great morning; I then waited for Harry to hear about his hiking adventure...which was "Epic".

Harry's Day:

It stared off at 6 in the morning where we met our guide at the reception. The group consisted of the three girls from New Mexico and another guy from Brazil. Apparently a few people have died doing this trek when they have not been with a guide so it is definitely worth paying for one, I had originally thought about doing it unguided. 


The hike begins! Little did I know what was coming!
We left at about 6.30-7, any later and it would have been too hot in the middle of the day to do anything and Ometepe gets seriously hot!

I have no idea how long the trek took. All I can say is that it was the hardest most painful walk I have ever done in my life! 

I'm sure a large part had to do with the fact that I had done very little in the way of exercise in the last 6 months, but the intense heat and humidity combined with a seriously steep volcano (which was way larger than it looked) made it that much tougher. 
Me with our friendly guide...who hiked in jeans!
At a guess it  must have been about 4 hours of solid "up" before we reached the crater lake at the top. 


The lake itself was actually a bit disappointing. It wasn't the most dramatic thing ever, you couldn't swim in it as the base was slimy sediment and it was impossible to wade out without getting stuck. Honestly, the best part was being able to sleep knowing it was mainly downhill from then on. I've never been so physically exhausted at the top of a hill where I've actually needed to sleep!
The crater lake at the top of volcano Maderas

I should point out at this point, I brought 2.5 Liters of water with me, more than I've ever brought with me before on a day trek....it was all gone in the first two hours... 


Our Brazilian friend had to climb a tree to get this shot!
I woke up about an hour later with some severe cramp in my legs (the rest of the group had also fallen asleep) and we got ready to go back down the volcano. There was discussion between the girls of how much a helicopter would cost... I was willing to chip in, but unfortunately our guide informed us it wasn't an option, so we headed on down. 




There was no such thing as a "path"
Pain. Lots of pain is all I remember. Oh and Avocados. We passed by loads of avocado trees so I climbed a few and collected the ripest ones but in doing so me and the guide lost the group and I realised just how hard it was to navigate through the jungle environment.  

Eventually we found the rest of the group and arrived back at  El Zopilote in the late afternoon where I met Luisa at the hammocks. It was one of the best feelings in the world to lie down in a hammock knowing I didn't have to do any more walking. 

That is when our very creating and'interesting' concoction of "guaca-mango" was created. A blend of mashed avocado and mango with some seasoning salt, eaten out of an empty crisp packet with a spork...genesis! 


Bliss!
Covered in mud, scratches and severely dehydrated I lay in my hammock every joint in my body aching, and thought "that was awesome!" The best and the worst hike of my life, and as crazy as it sounds I would definitely do it a again.

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