Let´s start this blog post with a fun-filled after noon of cock fights and horse races, shall we? The cock fights are a traditional weekend event which mainly the local men enjoy (there were probably about 75 men when I went and 5 local women). The fights themselves were actually much less disturbing and much more organized than I had imagined. There are strict rules (weight groups, time limits, etc.), the men are very proud of their cocks (haha, seriously, how can I not make at least one joke!) and treat them well considering, nobody gets fall-down drunk, and everyone goes home by dusk. It´s kind of like sunday night football in the states... but not. I have to admit that the worts art if when the birds get all bloody and the men are cleaning them off-if the cock gets blood all over it´s face, the man will suck if it´s face to get the blood out of it´s nose so it can breathe-Yuck!
Anyway, the annual horse races were actually more interesting for me than the fighting. They took place on a dirt road in the same neighborhood as the cock fights, and there were tons of people out to watch. There were young boys particiating in speed races between the main relay races in which the older boys/men competes. In these races there is a dead duck hung from it´s feet by a rope across the street. As the men race by on their horses the objective is to tear the duck´s head off. The funny part is that that seems to be impossible, so they just end up pulling the duck really hard and catipulting if up into the trees above when they let go. The streets were packed, with little boys climbing the trees for a better look, and everyone eating plantain chips and raspados (snowcones with condensed milk and fruit syrup).
The next morning i went to the Quetzaltrekker office at 4am to prepare for our hike. I´m sure I already talked about QT in Guatemala, but just to remind you all, they are a volunteer-run non-profit trekking company that raises money for programs to help street kids. So, we packed, ate breakast, and headed out to Cerro Negro on a chicken bus. We hike about two hours throught peanut fields and the ¨black desert¨ avoiding the cattle all around us, and then dropped oof out pack to climb Cerro Negro. It´s the sam volcano I boarded down, but this time we simply ran, which may have actually been more fun. And this time we weren´t attacked by a swarm of african bees at the top of the crater. After running down, we started up ¨las pilas,¨ a steep ridge behind the ranger´s station with our packs. At the top we had burritos and pbj on tortillas while avoiding the gnats (which grossly enough were attracted to all ou bloody scrapes from falling all over the rocks on cerro negro). From there it was a nice walk/hike throught lush green foliage in thick fog to the ridge at the capsite below ¨El Hoyo¨. Our campsite is in a glowing green bowl below ¨the hole¨ with the crater of the volcano further above that and beautiful views all in front of us. When we first ade it to the to we were socked in by clouds and couldn´t see the view of el hoyo at first. But when everything creared I was totally blown away!
We hikde up to a serious fumerol on the side of the volcano with tons of sulfure steam billowing out, then up to the edge of the crater which was much larger and greener than I had imagined, and then along the side and bottom of el hoyo. The hole is on the slope of the volcano, just down from the vrater and is perfectly round with deep red stone sides. The theories on how it was formed include that it may have been a fumerol at some point, a collapsed lava tunnel, or a dinosaur nest. We watched sunset from the ridge and walked back down for a delicious lentil, garbanzo, pasta dinner, and the mallow roasting on the fire.
It poured most of the night, but we woke up to one of the most beautiful mornings I have ever seem. To the left was the sun coming up throught the steam of the fumerol, in front of us volcanes Momotombo, and Momotombito with lake Managua stretching out around and behind them, further to the right was laguna Asososca next to la tigre, and starting above la tigre and arching up and around behing us was a beautiful double rainbow! I don´t think that my description or my photos will be able to do it justice! The we hiked four hours down throught the beautiful jungle to laguna Asososca for lunch and swimming. Looking down at the lake from el hoyo it seemed pretty close because we didn´t know how big it was, but looking back up at el hoyo from the lake it was pretty impressive to see how far we had come! Hiking out of the lake and out to the road was the easiest part, because all 9L of my water were gone and we had finally eaten the day 2 lunch I had been carying. Bus rides back, and then 12 hours in bed! I still can´t get over how beautiful the trip was!