|Volcán Momotombo, amidst the waters of lake Xolotlán. 1280 meters. Managua, Nicaragua.|
Era en los días de mi dorada primavera
y era mi Nicaragua natal.
De pronto, entre las copas de los árboles, vi un cono gigantesco,
"calvo y desnudo", y lleno de antiguo orgullo triunfal.
¡Oh Momotombo ronco y sonoro!
Te amo porque a tu evocación vienen a mí otra vez,
obedeciendo a un íntimo reclamo,
perfumes de mi infancia, brisas de mi niñez.*
Nicaragua is aptly known as "tierra de lagos y volcanes", a land of lakes and volcanoes. Situated within the Pacific Ring of Fire, her landscape is populated by 25 volcanoes, many of which are in constant activity, and whose spectacular eruptions can both delight and frighten.
|Maribios volcanic range.|
The volcanoes have been at times a source of mystery, and fear:
|Volcán Masaya. Masaya, Nicaragua. The air is rarefied and breathing becomes difficult because of the sulfuric gases.|
Other volcanoes are the stuff of legend:
|Volcán Concepción. Isla de Ometepe, Lake Cocibolca, Nicaragua.|
Ometepe's twin volcanoes are full of distinct wonders. While Concepción is barren, hot, and full of volcanic activity; Maderas sleeps and is covered in forests and hidden treasures. One has to climb to find them, of course...
Some Volcanoes hide their violent past hidden in the mist of the millennia:
Volcán Mombacho, (1344 meters) which blew up its cone in a magnificent strombolian eruption over 20,000 years ago; and formed an archipelago of 365 islets (Isletas de Granada). Lake Cocibolca, Granada, Nicaragua.
|Mombacho seen from the doorway of the Museum "Convento San Francisco". Granada, Nicaragua.|
|The 365 Isletas de Granada and Lake Cocibolca, seen from atop Volcán Mombacho.|
|The crater of Volcán Mombacho. There is a lagoon at the bottom, which fuels the widespread belief that Mombacho is extinct, but...|
Which brings me to the volcanoes you can touch, albeit dangerous if you do:
And there are also the new ones:
"Volcano Boarding" on Cerro Negro's gravel side. A much needed rest. It is a hard ascend, made even more difficult by the rarefied sulfuric air.
|Cerro Negro. León Nicaragua.|
|Volcán Momotombo. Managua's pride.|
I grew up in Chinandega, the northernmost city in the Pacific Coast, home of, among others, Volcán Cosigüina and Volcán San Cristóbal. Cosigüina blew off one third of its cone during its most famous eruption in 1835; ash from this eruption has been found in Mexico, Costa Rica, and Jamaica. A lagoon now occupies its crater. I have not visited or climbed this volcano, therefore I cannot post a picture of it. My oldest brother on the other hand, could be a tour guide of the park.
The mighty San Cristóbal, at 1785 meters, is the tallest volcano in the country. It has a perfect conical shape, and it is ever present from the city streets and the countryside (even on a cloudy sunset)
|Volcán San Cristóbal, seen from the docks at Marina Puesta del Sol. Aserradores, Chinandega, Nicaragua.|
Volcán San Cristóbal, seen from the countryside. Its last eruption was a moderate one in April of 2006, and in September of 2009 it showered ash on the nearby towns.
The volcanoes are to me a sort of compass: the Pacific Ocean on the West and the Maribios range on the East. Every time I visit my childhood home I feel I have finally arrived when catch a glimpse of San Cristóbal's perfect cone; and when I leave I make sure to say good bye.
All images by NPL