May 29, 2012

Volcán Mombacho and Granada

On Friday, May 18 we took a field trip to Volcán Mombacho.  Volcán Mombacho is one of the active volcanoes in Nicaragua and only about 45 minutes by bus from Jinotepe.  We started out the morning early so that we could get to the top (1345m) and enjoy the views of the city of Granada.  It was foggy when we left Jinotepe due to rain the day before, but when we got to the base of the volcano the weather was clear and sunny.  We travelled almost to the top in several pickup trucks and then continued on several different hikes with guides.  Volcán Mombacho is also a cloud forest with monkeys, orchids, birds, a salamander only found here, and the red-eyed tree frog. Many students hiked the Sendero la Puma that is a 4km hike around the lip of the crater featuring wonderful views of the Lago de Nicaragua and Granada.  The rest of the students hiked the Senderoel Tigrio, a 2.5 km hike around part of the crater with other lookouts.  All students had a great time and several groups met and shared some mangos for a snack.  At the end of the hike, one of the guides found the red tree frog which is very colorful and students enjoyed holding it.

After our hikes we headed to the colonial city of Granada for a pizza lunch and several hours of exploring.  Granada is one of the oldest cities in Nicaragua and an important trade center as it is on the shore of the Lago de Nicaragua.  The Spaniards used the Río San Juan to navigate from the Atlantic coast to Granada to help with trading.  It was a very rich city so the pirates attacked several times destroying several churches that were rebuilt.  Granada went to war in the 1850’s with León (the capital at the time and longtime rival).  León was desperate and hired an American mercenary William Walker who helped defeat Granada and then declared himself president of Nicaragua.  After Walker attempted to take control of Central America and failed, he burned Granada to the ground before fleeing the country.   Today Granada is a popular tourist destination.    Students had time to walk around Granada on their own.  Some climbed a church bell tower and rang the bell, others found a place to watch a soccer game, and all enjoyed the city they had read much about in their study of Nicaraguan history.

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