Keep your mouth shut…or you’ll end up with rocks for teeth

Volcano boarding was as excellent as I imagined it would be!

About 25 of us pile into a shuttle truck and take the 45 minute drive over dusty, bumpy back roads to Cerro Negro. The volcano is one of Nicaragua’s youngest volcanoes and is still active, last erupting in 1999. It’s overdue to erupt again.

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It’s 730 metres to the top and because of the various fitness levels and abilities of everyone on the tour, the climb took the better part of an hour over sometimes rocky terrain. We carried our boards and our bags, containing what can only be described as orange prison overalls, to the top.

There’s a guy with a speed gun at the bottom clocking the times. The fastest time on record is 89km/h, which is VERY fast on what amounts to a toboggan.

The instructions are lean back, keep your legs out to the side, hold the toggle rope and whatever you do, DON’T put your hands down!! Also, don’t smile or yell whee as you speed to the bottom because you’ll get a mouthful of black rocks. It turns out it’s not black ash but tiny volcanic rocks.

And I’m off! Like grease lightening! I’m thinking I’m going to break the record…I can see the bottom…it’s amazing…and then I start to drift. And I try to get back on track, but I forget what he said about tapping which foot to get the board back to straight… and in my moment of glory I let the front of the board get low and it buries itself in the tiny rocks and I come to a dead stop. In the middle of the hill. Dreams of having bragging rights for the rest of the day totally destroyed.

The woman who started out next to me clocked a final speed of 70km/h. I, on the other hand, only managed 20 although I swear at the beginning I was FLYING. But not a total epic fail as at least I made it down with speed, which not everyone could say. And although she ended up with the fastest speed of the day, the woman beside me also came away with some major abrasions to her leg when she flew off her board at the bottom of the hill. Someone else took all the skin of her elbow. Except for having tiny rocks absolutely everywhere — hair, ears, nose — I was totally unscathed.

Catherine Volcano Boarding Nicaragua 2013

But what a rush! The only bad thing is that you only go once. One shot at greatness and the adrenaline rush.

Everyone on the truck ride home was psyched. There was live music that night at my hostel so after showers all around, we all met up for dinner and a celebratory drink. A perfect end to the day.

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