Concepción Volcano and the toilet paper - Days 546 - 547
Updated: May 26, 2019
Only 25% of climbers manage the trek to the top of Concepción Volcano. Two of the four of us attempted this while the other two had their own adventure. We arrived by ferry across Lake Nicaragua to Moyogalpa "place of mosquitoes", a town on Ometepe Island meaning "two hills" and created from two volcanoes. Hardly hills; the dormant Maderas is 1394m high and the active Concepción is 1610m high, last erupting in 2015. We have heard that only 25% of climbers manage to reach the top of the big boy volcano. The reason we're here is that two of the four of us were attempting to climb it. If you know me well, you'd know I wasn't one of them. The dodgy knee is my excuse. Tim and Eve got up early to meet their trekker guide, Erling. So over to Tim: "Our trek started with a gentle climb through a dry forest. Erling pointed out an elephant ear tree, the national tree of Costa Rica. He held one of the seed pods to his h; it it resembled more like a monkey's ear! Once we paid our entrance fee, the terrain changed to steep, wet, humid, lush rainforest. After a well-earned rest with a glorious view of ...clouds, the vegetation became shorter with wild orchids and fuchsia-like flowers tasting similar to Granny Smith apples, which I ate. The trail then took us past glorious large gunneras. Suddenly the clouds cleared, giving us a tremendous view of the island and Maderas volcano. Next, a sharp incline of bare rocks and loose gravel challenged us. Were we going to be part of the 25% or give up? It was gruelling work. I climbed slowly and purposefully surprising Erling by my light, nimble feet. Eve persevered, gritting her teeth, and testing her own strength, seizing the challenge. We proudly reached the top. Standing at the precipice, all that we could see was that the crater's sheer cavernous drop was filled with cloud. I threw a few rocks in to see how far down the surface was. It didn't seem too long before I heard the rock thud below. We had been climbing for 6 hours, so after a short lunch break and rest, we started our descent. This was trickier; the gravel caused us to slide so we needed to balance onto the larger rocks. Eve felt unsafe standing on some of the steeper parts, so slid down on her bottom. Erling helped her, and a rendition of the Beatles "I want to hold your hand" was a welcomed distraction. By this time, our legs were burning and feeling tired. We took a slightly different route where the surface was sandy, enabling us to surf down, making the descent quicker, but we did need to pour a load of sand out from our boots afterwards. We eventually got back and were thrilled to hear that Lindsey and Nat had arranged a massage for us both. Just what we needed." Meanwhile, Nat and I had our own adventure. Definitely not as physically tiring but still quite an ordeal. Our accommodation didn't live up to expectation; no air conditioning and no windows to open, causing the room to be stuffy and hot. Also, the floor was covered with insects, and some of us were getting bitten.
In the morning, the toilet did not flush properly. When it overflowed with number twos, this was the last straw! Nat and I managed to find an alternative Hotel down the road. We then had the task of informing our lovely and very kind host that we were leaving a day early. During our pidgeon Spanish conversation, Zoe, the dog, grabbed hold of a long piece of stained toilet paper and ran around the yard with it, thinking this game of us chasing her was great fun....we didn't! We packed all our stuff in record time and was very relieved when we settled into our new abode. Perhaps not quite as relieved as Tim and Eve returning from their epic mammoth climb. Well done, Tim and Eve.