It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and my family had just arrived in Nicaragua. I had no good excuse for not visiting the Volcano known as Masaya – just a half-hour drive from Granada – previous to this occasion, except that I knew it was something I wanted to do with my parents and brother. It’s an easy volcano to visit – one of those that you can drive almost straight to the top – and one of Nicaragua’s most spectacular.
I had seen the Volcan Masaya steaming from the road on numerous occasions as I had traveled around the country on my weekend adventures. It wasn’t until we were almost at the top that we started to notice the white gas on this particular journey, however. I was surprised how strongly the fumes affected me, and I found myself feeling almost instantly light headed as we got out of the taxi. Signs around the parking lot warned that you shouldn’t spend more than ten or fifteen minutes in close quarters with this toxic vapor.
The crater is massive. Standing at the rim and watching the sheer cliffs disappear into pillars of white below me got my heart racing faster. When the wind blows in just the right direction you can make out the outline of two dark holes at the bottom of the crater. Birds flew amongst the plumes while I wiped the tears from my irritated eyes.
There is another, inactive crater next to her smoking sister. On that first visit our foot-tapping taxi driver did not allow us the time to explore, but I would return a few weeks later to walk her grassy perimeter. I find it’s almost always worth it to climb further up, and this hike was no exception. From the top of the calm crater the views were 360 degrees and spectacular.