To say that today was a full day would be an extreme understatement. After having a delicious breakfast at our hotel, we set out for our first adventure. Here is Nikki's recount of our trip to Masaya Volcano National Park...
"Well, today started out a lot later than I thought. We started out for Masaya Volcano National Park at 10 am. The ride through the streets was a real eye opener. I was told that there was a lot of poverty, and I don’t really know what I was expecting. What I saw was shacks along the side of the road with tin roofs surrounded in trash that truthfully did not look like they would survive a mild wind. It made me truly thankful for the things that I have been blessed with in my life. On a better note, it took us about 30 minutes to reach the entrance to the national park and we headed up towards the Visitor’s Center. The people there were very nice and tried to explain the park as best they could. From there we headed 4 km up to the parking lot where you can walk to the top of the craters. The amount of sulfur that was coming out of Santiago Crater was ridiculous! I have been to Yellowstone and been around the sulfur pots and things like that but this was 10 times
worse. I had to keep my mouth shut because it tasted so bad! I am a geology major at Berry, so I was like a kid in a candy shop spouting of geologic information to anyone standing near me! We
hiked to the top of Santiago Crater and from there we could see all the way to the road that brought us to the national park. There was a huge cross at the top, because when the crater was discovered they thought it was the entrance to hell. So, they wanted to try and get rid of the demons that lived there. From there we hiked up to the top of the Masaya crater. It is no longer active and looked like a green meadow at the bottom. That one was a lot higher and from the top of there you could see all five craters that comprise the Masaya volcano, as well as the rim of the original volcano which collapsed and is now the boundaries of the national park. The real concern for me today was a serious sunburn. So, because I’m so OCD I put sunscreen on like 5 times while we were at the volcano and guess what!? I still got burned!!! The sun is out to get me, that’s what I think. HAHA."
After we left the national park, we rode a few more minutes into the town of Masaya. Brooke had arranged lunch for us at a great restaurant adjacent to the market. Everyone ate their fill of steak or chicken, rice, salad, and plantains, and then we were off to do some shopping! Almost everyone found at least one thing that they couldn't leave without, and we were all very happy with the low prices.
We then drove back to our hotel and spent a couple of hours relaxing in the pool and resting up for the first of our four matches. When we headed to the gym, none of us really knew what to expect. What we found was a large gym with concrete floors and high ceilings and well worn volleyballs. More importantly, we found the Nicaragua Sr. National team to be worthy opponents and the 150 or so fans to be enthusiastic and supportive of their team. We lost the match 1-3, but the coaching staff could not have been more proud of our effort after such a long and exhausting day. Even when our bodies were not able to do what we are used to them doing, we still found a way to play with heart and compete. We left the gym drenched in sweat, covered in dirt, and grinning from ear to ear as we made our way back to the hotel for another delicious meal.
Tomorrow morning brings another match against the same team and then a bus trip to San Juan del Sur where we will spend some much anticipated time at the beach. Buenas noches!