Some hostels are pretty dire, and some, like Finca Mystica on Ometepe are just plain outstanding, Finca Mystica is not only a hostel but it’s also an eco farm growing all of its own produce, it’s absolutely beautiful. We (Lauren, Maggie and I) rocked up to the hostel pretty late into the evening; however when we arrived Ryan and Angela (the owners) had prepared a beautiful dinner for us, served as always, with beer. I felt at home straight away, however, once I’d viewed our room I knew that there was no place I’d rather be. To get to our room we had to stroll along the pretty gardens and hideaways under a thick canopy of stars to the Eco Hut that we were sleeping in, it looked pretty but basic from outside, however, from the moment we opened the door we were faced with the most lovely shared room (I don’t want to use the word ‘dorm’ for this place). We had, wait for it, DOUBLE BEDS! Complete with colourful mosquito nets, lockers, writing tables, fans and enough room to swing a Howler Monkey (not that you would, but you get my point). But, we weren’t there to rest and kick back; we had a climb we wanted to do.
The hostel was based right under the volcano ‘Maderas’ that we were dying to scale the next day, all it took was a quick chat to Ryan and Angela that night to book our guide for the next day. We were told to bring water, lots of water, and to wear comfortable clothing. We had an early night in preparation; we woke up the next day filled with optimism topped off with a light buzz of adrenaline for about what was to come. Our guide, who couldn’t speak any English translated via Maggie that we had to think nothing but positive thoughts if we wanted to reach the submit.
After those wise words we were off, an nine hour hike up a volcano, I chortle to myself now as I write ‘Hike’, it was nothing like any hike I’ve ever done. We began strolling along the fields and the jungle undergrowth, past meadows of cows, horses and a tree covered in Vultures. That should’ve been my first clue that it wasn’t going to be easy, especially when our guide stated that two hikers got lost on the Volcano previously and they only found them from where the Vultures were circling, unfortunately, the hikers had already perished.
Before we knew it the path grew steeper and eventually disappeared completely into the jungle, we were no longer on any set path as the jungle grew thicker around us, until we were clambering over tree roots as tall as my hips, so much so that we had to pull ourselves up via vines that hung low around us. The heat was as thick as the trees around us as we clambered higher and higher, sounds surrounded us, from the rustle of the undergrowth to the haunting calls of the howler monkeys high above us. It was really hard, as we pressed on I lagged behind, I could feel my chest becoming tighter and tighter, my breathing grew tighter and tighter, then the tell tale cough started, I was struggling for breath, each time I pulled in the humid heat my throat burnt. I was having an asthma attack and my inhaler was at home, in England, shit. It’s okay, I thought, I can control it, so we pushed on.
As the roots we were climbing turned to rocks, the rocks became bigger and bigger until we were climbing directly up. At which point my asthma became worse, the more I couldn’t breathe the more I started to panic, my body started shaking, I became lightheaded trying to catch my breath; until it felt like the entire jungle was closing in on me – I was having a panic attack right on the side of a volcano in the middle of the Jungle. Maggie, my friend who I had met one day previously and my friend Lauren sat me down and calmed me down in a matter of moments by showing me some breathing techniques. Once I had regained some composure and a tiny bit of dignity I realised I had two choices; I could give up and go back down (F**k that) or carry on up the volcano and own it. I chose the later.
After I had settled my head I realised that I’m much stronger mentally and psychically than I’ve ever been in my life, so I grew some balls and took on that bad boy. We continued climbing for another five hours, until the route became ridiculous. We scaled tiny paths, with landslides dropping steep either side, we swung through the Jungle, vine to vine, spoke to the Howler Monkeys, shook trees with the Spider Monkeys and avoided bugs and insects crawling all around us. At one point we also came across a very, very large snake, luckily we were on a mission so bypassed it pretty quickly.
We reached the submit after six hours of intense scaling, no thanks to my mini freakout earlier. Having only a limited amount of time before we had to get down before sunset we had to leave pretty quickly.
It took us about three hours to get down, our legs were like lead, our bodies heavy and our heads light from exhaustion and dehydration. I could have cried when we got to flat land, though through my exhaustion and embarrassment I was so happy that we done it! We had climbed a volcano.
Once we got back to our beautiful hostel we devoured another amazing meal and settled ourselves round one of the tables to sink rum shots deep into the night celebrating our adventure.
Massive thanks to our amazing guide and to Lauren and Maggie, who are totally awesome. It was the perfect adventure.
Coming up next: Kayaking Ometepe