As we were frying on the road, yesterday, I glance across yet another huge Nicaraguan lake and see two more perfect volcanic cones. Wisps of smoke rising from the tops of these ones too. We have seen lots of volcanos and there are at least 11 in this small country of about 8 million folk. Recent eruptions have been frequent but we have yet to see any.
Cerro Negro is the most recent volcano, having risen up in 1850, and it is there that we are contemplating going. The reason is volcano boarding or cinder boarding, the recent adventure craze here. You are given a 4×4 ride up a fair distance and then still have a 45 minute walk to the launching point to hurtle down a volcano at high speed on a bit of wood. What is making us hesitate isn’t the thought of abrasions and lungs full of ash and grit but the heat. It will be over 40 degrees on that black slope and that could be a killer.
We are in a gorgeous Spanish colonial town, Leon, and just down the road is Leon Viejo the old city dating from 1524 but buried in an eruption of Mt Momotombo in 1610. Leon was the capital city but now Managua the most populous city has taken this role. We rode around Managua, now a sprawling city of 2 million, trying to by-pass it but to no avail. An hour of congestion later we were pleased to get out of its clutches. Its once glorious centre was flattened in an earthquake in 1972 displacing 65% of the population of 1 million and killing 5,000. None of us had even heard of this city.
Pretty poor country,with the average worker getting $600 a year. Lush vegetation and tropical fruits dripping off the trees mean most people look well fed and greet us with huge grins of welcome.