Am I getting jaded as I visit more and more countries?
03/31/2015 - 03/31/2015 91 °F
Volcan Masaya, or "The Gates of Hell" to the Spanish conquistadors
I've always wondered if I would get jaded as I visited more and more countries. Would I be a cynic, saying that his mountain range isn't as scenic as one I'd seen elsewhere. This historical sight wasn't as fascinating and inspiring as another I'd seen. Would I end up going to new countries and evaluating them, "not good enough," or "I've seen better." I certainly hope I will never turn into that type of person. I can't imagine how insufferable it would be to travel around with such a dark cloud.
I felt the first inklings of that type of feeling here in Nicaragua. Hopefully, I've kept it to myself and not vocalized those thoughts. Hopefully, I am still being an interested, eager traveller. But I HAVE found myself silently doing that this trip. I have seen cooler cathedrals and churches. I have taken more interesting and scenic boat rides. And today, after hiking around Volcan Masaya, I couldn't shake the feeling that I've seen cooler volcanoes (El Salvador). And hiked more scenic and dramatically situated extinct caldera rims (Easter Island). Is this the end of my endless yearning to see new places and be thrilled by new marvels of man and nature?
The parking lot and the smoking crater
I don't think so. But I confess that my feelings of the last two days have me worried. I hope tomorrow, or some sight here in Nicaragua dispels this storm cloud hanging over me. Perhaps that is all it is -- a bad mood that will blow away soon. The day certainly began on a bad note. I somehow lost one of my contact lenses. Back in Columbus, I'd considered packing a spare pair, or at least my glasses, but told myself that it was only six days. Can someone with even my propensity to lose things on trips manage that? Yep!
Our hotel's driver/not guide showing up completely unable to speak English didn't get it off to any better start. Everyone else from Las Isletas Boutique Hotel has been great, and every other bit of advice or thing they've arranged for us went great. And later, the desk manager all bit apologized for that. However, it meant a rocky start to our visit to Volcan Masaya. We did a lot of head scratching, but after a quick visit to the museum in the Visitor center, we were deposited in the parking lot of the steaming crater that the Spaniards called the "Gates of Hell." From what if read beforehand, I was hoping to glimpse lava at this, more active, volcano...but no such luck. The crater was shrouded in a thick gray cloud of gas and steam.
The hill that we hiked up away from the crater, leading the the view of the lake
We decided to make the best of our uninformed situation and followed the other hikers who struck off uphill to the left. Our visitor center map seemed to indicated there was a trail that circled the crater. There was a trail, but it headed off away from the gaseous pit and instead circled a dormant caldera. We followed it for awhile until it rewarded us with a nice view of a lake. We finally figured out it was heading away for where we wanted to go, and we doubled back to the parking lot after an hour's worth of hiking through sandy, volcanic gravel. After one last look at the crater, we rejoined our driver/not guide.
Our next stop was the market in the town of Masaya. We cruised the stalls for about a half hour. I was tempted to buy a leather change purse to replace the one that has came up missing a couple weeks ago. I didn't like any, so walked away empty-handed. We then drove to the mirador of the village of Catarina. This town is the first of Los Pueblos Blancos, where most of Nicaragua's handicrafts are made. The view of the clear blue Laguna de Apoyo -- a volcanic crater filled with a gorgeous blue lake -- was striking. However, that nagging feeling of having seen a volcanic lake more spectacularly sited spoiled my enjoyment of it. We walked around and took pictures for awhile, but there was little else to do but shop. I thumbed through my guidebook and read the other Los Pueblos descriptions. I was hoping to find one that was more village and less row upon row of booths selling the same handicrafts. I picked out Diria, but it proved to be merely a smaller version of Catarina.
Laguna de Apoyo, a lake filling a volcanic crater, viewed from the Mirador Catarina
We decided to pull the plug on Los Pueblos and told the driver to take us to the Laguna de Apoyo. There are apparently lakeside resorts where you can buy a day pass and swim, kayak, relax, and enjoy the amenities. This lived up to its billing and it we spent a pleasant two hours enjoying the sun and water, along with a few cervecas. The drive back to our hotel took way less time than we'd anticipated. So, after a shower, we headed off to dinner and an evening in Granada. The highlight was the church procession, featuring two huge floats borne aloft on the shoulders of parishioners. This being Easter Week, we were hoping we'd see such a procession. Luckily, I had my video camera handy and we dashed around and filmed it for a few angles. We hope to see more of these when we shift our base to Leon on Wednesday.
Pleasant lakeside views and water activities awaited us along the shore of Laguna de Apoyo
It was a nice end to a day that began not so well. I confess I am still worried about this jaded feeling, and hoping it is a temporary "blah" rather than an onset of anything so terminal . Tomorrow's zip lining should decide that. I have never been on a zip line canopy tour. And the ones down here are supposed to be awesome. So, hopefully I'll be back tomorrow refreshed and enthused. The jaded storm cloud hanging over Nicaragua will have blown away and my outlook on this trip will be more sunny.