They Couldn’t Keep Me Out

The reason I haven’t written in a while is because I did something I swore I would never try again:  I went to Nicaragua.  Yeah, one of the other researcher’s visa was up for renewal, and since it would be easier for both of us to travel and going now would save me a trip later, I decided to give the Nica/Tica border another shot.  And it went fine.  As I suspected, that guard that tried to extort me and said I was banned from Nicaragua was bluffing.  I knew he was bluffing.

I’ll spread the story of our brief vacation over a couple posts, interspersed with what’s going on here.  Because what with the weather changing, it is an especially active time here.  But I’ll get to that later.  First, Nicaragua.

We stayed in Granada, a historic and only moderately touristy city this time of year.  I didn’t get to climb Mount Concepcion (too far away), or my second choice Masaya (too active right now), but we did spend a day hiking a third volcano in the area:  Mombacho.

It’d still make a good supervillain lair.

The mountain is still slightly active, with a couple sulfurous steam vents near the top next to an empty, overgrown crater, and rises steeply from dry forest to elfin cloud forest, with trees stunted by wind.  It was a new experience to be in cloud forest with the canopy only a few meters overhead.  While the reserve was a little too crowded to have much in the way of wildlife, the hike up towards it yielded several motmots, three separate troops of howler monkeys, and the latest entry into the saga of Nature Likes to Screw with Biologists in the form of a rare and illusive Red Eyed Treefrog—something I have spent many late nights looking fruitlessly searching for—sleeping by the side of the road.

Threatened species, my ass.  This thing was sleeping in a ditch.

Made the whole hike worth it.  And even if it hadn’t, my god—that view.  From a viewing platform, we could see the crater drop a good fifty meters of jungle-covered cliff straight down.  Another platform gave a nice vista of the city and Lake Nicaragua.  And one part of the trail to the rim of the crater had been carved straight through the clay and rock of the mountain.  It was neat illustration of soil layers and how quickly I will turn to prayer to whatever volcano gods were listening not to send an earthquake at that moment.

There are no atheists in active volcanic crevasses.

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