Saturday, December 4, 2021

[MASAYA] Uncle Lucifer, I'm Home


When Mother Earth handed out natural resources in Central America, Costa Rica received many of the rainforests and beaches while neighboring Nicaragua went gaga over the lakes and volcanoes. I’ve been to three regions so far and all of them have their own volcano. Rivas has Ometepe’s twin peaks. Granada had Mombacho. Masaya shares its volcano with Managua right there at the border but gets the honor of getting the national park and the volcano itself named after it.


For such a small region sandwiched between Managua and Granada, I’m surprised that there are actually a lot of day tour options to explore from Masaya. In terms of lakes, it shares Laguna de Apoyo with Granada which is situated at the two regions’ border. That lake is said to have the clearest water in the entire country. The other lake is Masaya’s own. Aptly named Lake Masaya, it occupies the eastern edge of the Masaya Volcano National Park area with the entire body of water on the Masaya side.


Since I’ve already had my fair share of rivers and lakes in the past few weeks, getting wet yet again is not part of my itinerary. That’s why Granada was just a walking tour of its colonial houses. For Masaya, I opted for the volcano. More on that later! I tried to visit Lake Masaya but access to the malecón was blocked by a construction site enclosed in walls of concrete and aluminum. I did find an entry a little bit north, but it was a simple tori-inspired gateway with a view of the lake but no access to it. All I ever found there were ravines hidden in plain sight by tall grass.


Since I saw road signs saying Malecón all around town, I suppose there is another way to a more tourist-friendly viewing deck somewhere along the shores of the lake. But then again, getting wet is not on my itinerary for Masaya. Rest and recreation aside, I want fire. And so, I booked a really short tour via Show Me Nicaragua. A bit steep at $50 for a return trip to and from the crater from downtown Masaya, I thought it was going to be a rip off, but I actually enjoyed the tour. It was quite pricy because I was alone as usual.


The tour guide was friendly and had a lot of background information to complement your tour experience. If you are tight on budget, I suppose you can negotiate a cheaper return trip fare via a local taxi and then just visit the museum by the entrance of the park. Walking does not seem to be an option. While the roads leading to the crater are paved, the drive that took barely 10 minutes from the gate to the crater seemed like a really long hike to me. Perhaps if you start early in the morning or afternoon, it’s doable.


I skipped the museum because my driver cum tour guide was already giving me all the info I needed anyway. We reached the crater at half past five, just when darkness was starting to envelope the place. From afar, you can see the twinkling lights of Managua. There is a cross on top of one of the hills, but access is prohibited after dark. There are two main viewing decks where you can see the crater as well as perhaps half of the area with flowing lava in it. Maybe you can see the entire mouth of hell from a higher vantage point, but for an excursion in this darkness this is all that’s allowed.


Most of the tourists who were there had their own cars. Some were locals. So, yes, you can rent a car to get here if you prefer to drive. It’s probably a good investment in order to see the neighboring lakes too. As for me, I was already contented watching that fiery red magma bellowing from the depths of the volcano. This is probably the nearest I’ve been to one, considering how most volcano craters I’ve visited so far are inactive and only ever house cool blue green lakes. Despite the constant fumes visible in the night sky above the crater, it was actually cold up there, so bring a light sweater maybe.


And that’s Masaya for me. That fiery red apparition as if knocking on Uncle Lucifer’s gates was just the right distraction that I needed from the depression starting to hound me since I arrived here. Pretty ironic state of mind to be in at a place named as such! But yeah, I’ll be fine. Don’t skip Masaya en route to Granada or Managua. You’ll regret it! Besides, it’s just a short half an hour ride away from either of those two.

[MASAYA] Uncle Lucifer, I'm Home

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