Yesterday I stood on a volcano and watched a snake chow down on some sort of rodent while another rodent jumped around trying to figure out a solution for it´s partner. This was on my way up Volcan Mombacho, a 1345 metre volcano just a little ways off of Lago de Nicaragua. Nature here is abundant and I am pleased to say that I have really been making an effort to see it all.
After a tame night on Saturday of only a few NicaLibres (rum and coke´s) near Parque Central here in Granada I was able to wake up early and head out into the rainforest with my Danish brother Nick. We had a guide from Nick´s school come with us and also used the school´s bikes. The funniest part about our guide was that he is actually the schools janitor but said that he would take us into the forest if we tossed him a couple dollars. No problem, let´s get to exploring! Andres was probably the worst and best guide that one could ask for. Not only is he insanely immature but he also doesn´t seem to be too worried about protecting the animals of the forest. We stopped about 20 minutes outside of Granada at a small shack where Andres ex-wife and child were living so that we could ditch our bikes; oh yeah, we also grabbed machetes. So off we went into the jungle with machetes in hand. At one moment as we hacked our way through the forest I began to wish that I had chosen something different than short shorts to protect my legs from snakes.
Wildlife was abundant and the scenery most excellent. Our professional guide, Andres, decided that the best way to see wildlife was to throw rocks at everything and hopefully you will scare the wildlife enough show itself. Although I was opposed to the idea at first, even I couldn´t deny the results. As we made our way along with beautiful birds flying around in the canopy above we made our way into this incredible little valley. This thing was straight out of a scene in the newer version of ´King Kong´. There were all of these holes all along the sides of the cliff and as Andres threw rocks close by to them owls began to flee the holes and make there way into the trees. I have never once actually seen a wild owl before so the the fact that I was able to see at least five in that incredible setting was almost overwhelming. On our way back along our path Andres also spotted a snake. After begging in my comical Spanish he decided not to chop it in half with his machete. Froggers were also plentiful and we even saw a large iguana that Andres of course tried to hit with a rock so that he could put it on the barbeque.
I wish that I was able to put up more pictures but the internet here is frustratingly slow. So instead I will just explain a bit about my school. I am the only student at my school besides one older women from Germany. SHe doesn´t speak any English so it is really nice that we can only talk to each other in Spanish. In only four days I have alread yimproved my Spanish a lot which really pleases me. I have been doing 4 hours of one on one learning with my amazing teacher Karla. The fact that it is just us two allows for a lot of flexibility with the teaching. I also have been doing activities in the afternoon where Karla and I have gone to some really fun places. e went to a hammock factory where all of the workers are deaf so you have to communicate using brochures with sign language inside of them. We also went to a real Nicaraguan bakery where they roll the bread and put it in a real fire unlike the factory made bread there is in Canada. We have walked around the museum here in Granada and the whole time we have been talking in only Spanish. It is a little embarrasing for me because Karla speaks absolutely zero English which forces me to speak some really poor Spanish but she is very patient with me. Today after school she even took me to Masaya which is about 45 minutes from Granada and much more peaceful. We took the bus out there and walked around for about 2 hours before we went to the market and bought a couple cool souvenirs. Walking around Masaya was really incredible because there was a lot of fighting that took place there during the Contra War. For some reason Karla isn´t going to be my teacher next week so after this next week of school I think I will leave and try to find another school. I am really enjoying my lessons from Karla but my housemates and I are convinced that they are much better supplied at Casa Xelteva.
Life is going great here. If you don´t know this, sometimes I can be quite manic about always doing something and the other day I realized what makes Nicaragua so beautiful. There really isn´t that much to do in a typical day here. Sometimes your big day is leaving the house to buy some beans from the market. I have began to relax a little more as I´m settling down at my hosue and able to communicate a lot easier than in the beginning. I still plan to do lots of cycling and hiking in order to see the beauty of Nicaragua but if I want to have a siesta, I am going to have a siesta. Sometimes it isn´t even an option.