Leon

Leon Travel Blog

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Cerro Negro

Leon has been a byword for fun and adventure for many travellers.  I had high expectations and after gladly escaping San Juan, I was looking forward to Nica.  It had been sun drenched and beautiful a few weeks previously when the rest of Central America was suffereing torrential rain.  Unfortunately the tables had turned and I arrived to torrential rain.

I checked into Big Foot and thus the triangle of Leon was formed.  Big Foot to Earth Cafe to the cafe across the road.  I never ventured far from these places as the rain was insane and I actually had to make use of an umbrella I had to buy inGuate.  Yes i bought an unmbrella, on holiday.  It sucks.

I met some great people in the hostel including 2 lovely aussie girls Ruth and Jamie who were in my dorm, Sean a brilliantly funny irish man, Max a droll Englishman and Molly a lovely lovely New Yorker and in the spirit of adventure we signed up for the one activity Leon is famous for.

Gok Wan eat your heart out
  Volcano Boarding.  For those of you who haven't had the pleasure let me explain the day in detail.  We woke up at 9am ready for the off to be greeted with more rain.  I was secretly relieved that I might just get a respite from the activity.  With all the bravado that travelling gives I'd signed up paid the money and only then realised that I'd actively and willingly signed myself up for hurtling down an active volcano on a piece of wood. Was I crazy?! It appeared so.  So when th rain looked to call it off I planned a quiet day relaxing in the cafe with the great books I'd picked up in Flores.  However mydreams were short lived when the announcement went round that we would leave at 11am rather than 9am and that it should all be fine.
Glamour only matched if you're a resident of the US in Cuba
  Damn.

With 25 other people on the bus I couldn't chicken out so I manned up, jumped aboardthe bus and took the bumpy ride to the bottom of Cerro Negro volacno.  The weather had seemingly cleared and my bravado increased marginally.  We arrived at the base, signed our names to say we would undertake this hairbrain activity and were handed our "boards".  This is Nicaragua.  The boards were homemade pieces of wood with an acetate strip on the reverse and a piece of timber as a foot hold.  Pieces of rope were strung through the small piece of timber and fashioned with a small handle which is the mechanism by which you control the "board".  High tech stuff. 

We were handed a bright orange bag that contained our "kit", our board and were told to start our trek up the volcano side.

The "trail"
  At this point we were given fetching rain protection wear in the guise of a bin liner.  Which is just as well as the rain came back in, accompanied by mist and clouds and the hike to the top was nothing short of a trecherous endurance test. In between the board slipping and sliding, the bag falling and tripping me up and the mist clouding the way, this was not an enjoyable experience.  When we finally made the top the mist obscured the view but it was clear we were high.  Very high!

We finally emptied and tried on our kit.  A Guantanemo bay orange jumpsuit complete with science goggles and gloves.  We looked like escape convicts which is just as well given the madcap scheme that was unfolding. We were given a briefing session (stick to the tracks, keep your hands in, don't scream and tap your feet to slow down).

Molly, Jamie, Ruth and I with well deserved mojitos back at Big Foot
  Easy right?  Not really.  The tracks they mentionned were mere lines in the dust where other crazy people had slid before, the not screaming was a wise and just recommendation for if you did your mouth was immediately filled with dust.  The tapping of the feet was easier said than done. Hurtling down a volcano one is more inclined to simply wedge feet into the ground in fear rather than gently tap them. 

I watched as two sets of people slid down the face of the volcano and watched as the van far below came to view.  The orange jumpsuits proved to be a sound call, it was the only thing you could see against the mountain.  With thebravdo at an all time high I decided it was now or never and i took my place at the top of the mounatain alongside Ruth and Jamie.

Beautiful buildings in Leon
  Uno, dos, tres and i was off. You know what... it was brilliant!  Once the ride had begun it actually proved to be more fun than i ever imagined.  I actually wanted to pick up speed.  However when i did i invariably lost my lines, my balance and the memory to keep my mouth shut.  There was no danger of the speed gun they had posied at the ready picking up any kind of credible score for i simply rolled, spun and shuffled down the volcano to the botom where I resembled a dust monster rather than a thrill seeker.

I'm so glad I did it and next time I'm hoping to get a note worthy speed up!

The remainder of my time in rainy Leon was spent playing giant jenga, eating and repacking my bag (it's a travelleing marvel how often you seem to need to do this.)  Sean and I managed a sneaky walk around the city when the rain subsided one morning but at least I got my volcano boarding in.  Leon I'll be back.

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Cerro Negro
Cerro Negro
Gok Wan eat your heart out
Gok Wan eat your heart out
Glamour only matched if youre a r…
Glamour only matched if you're a …
The trail
The "trail"
Molly, Jamie, Ruth and I with well…
Molly, Jamie, Ruth and I with wel…
Beautiful buildings in Leon
Beautiful buildings in Leon
Sandanista rebel graffiti
Sandanista rebel graffiti
The local church
The local church
Leon Hostels review
The hostel to stay in the area. Complete with booking desks, a half decent restaurant and lots of other travellers. The dorms weren't so great and n… read entire review
Leon
photo by: Chokk