Day 86: Leon, Granada
Cerro Negro is the youngest active volcano in Central America and its popularity stems from an activity just over a decade old. Arriving in Leon, you cannot help but notice that the city is plastered with signs offering volcano boarding.
The story is that when an Aussie hostel owner, who grew up sandboarding, saw the slopes of Cerro Negro he realized it had potential. Now hoards of backpackers flock to Leon to sit on a piece of plywood pimped with Formica to jet down the side of the volcano.
Although I had been in Leon three weeks I still hadn’t done it and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than barreling down a mountain.
It’s an easy 45 minute hike to the top with, thankfully, many stops along the way. When I realized we had to carry own on boards I was a bit worried I’d feel like the slow piggy up the volcano as I had been while climbing Pacaya. But it seems that stubbornness always prevails as I was not the last up the mountain; I was actually the first girl. Mr. Bacon was very proud.
Our guide explained to us how to drive the board by placing our feet down lighting to steer or slow down and warned us not to instinctively put our hands down as they the rocks would shred our skin.
As I sat on the board I looked up at the guide and told him I was afraid, when he asked me ‘of what’ I realized I didn’t have an answer and set off down the hill. Slightly reminiscent of tobogganing, it was fast and furious and somehow I made it down without wiping out like the guys before me.
I think it may have been because my body, gripped with fear, remained so rigid that I went down completely straight. Toward the bottom I slowed down a bit but still managed to clock 27 miles/hour, far off from the record of 82 but still the fastest time for the girls.
It took me less than a minute to go down but the memories remained as I spit out little pieces of rock from my mouth and pulled pebbles out of my hair for days.
At the bottom I took this video of our guide coming down at 75 miles/hour.
Evening birthday celebrations to be continued in the next post…