I did not spend Christmas eve day running around looking for last minute gifts, fighting lines at the beer and liquor stores, looking for last minute food items or stopping for a pint to complain about it. What I did was lead a group of 14 excited travelers up Cerro Negro for their Volcano Boarding Experience.
It was a diverse group in both nationality and age. The youngest was 13 and the oldest 67. The day was hot and as usual the wind picked up the higher we went. The 4 older of the group were slow to climb and the usual 30 - 40 minutes took 90. With big hearts and determination everyone made it to the top. At times during the climb a few of the younger guys came back down to help carry back packs and boards of hikers that were a bit slow. What an amazing show of solidarity and support. Human decency was alive and well on Cerro Negro.
|Christmas Eve Day on Cerro Negro
|Waiting patiently for the GO signal from me. (Used full zoom from my position)
We have the group stand at the drop off point and with some final safety instructions one of the guides runs halfway down to setup a viewing position. We need to see the top and the bottom of the hill and manage the boarders safety using a simple red flag/green flag system. Once the last boarder is headed down the hill both guides head for the bottom
|My guide partner Lotta (Finland) and a guide from another company running down from the top with a boarding in tow
|Halfway down and yes, it is as steep as it looks
After a quick meeting at the bottom and check for any injuries, because they do happen, we walk to a meeting point for a brief snack. From there we decide who wants to go a second time. It is consistent that about 50% do not go a second time. A shout out to Quetzel Trekkers http://leon.quetzaltrekkers.org/ . We are the only company that offers the option of a second trip up and down as a part of the day (remember the sore legs and thighs thing), plus we provide snacks and lunch. Remember, all the workers are volunteers and all the money after expenses goes to a variety of charities and causes. You can read the Quetzel Trekkers Blog Here for some great insight. Please consider this when you think about having this adventure. That may be our biggest competitive on paper. I think it is that we all volunteer to volunteer and want to be there.
As the day ended it was time to think about Christmas Even Dinner. A Quetzel Christmas so to speak. With a mixed group of volunteers representing Germany, Finland, America, Nicaragua and Canada the pot luck dinner was incredible. With the BBQ blazing (wood coals of course) we had a mixture of macaroni, potato and veggies salads, warm beans paste which was amazing, hot wine, egg nog, corn casserole and breads. Living on the Quetzel veggies burrito has it's limits. This meal was heaven and we were all heathens to be sure.
A fun gift exchange game that is a German tradition (ah the lovely Germans), a few adult beverages and the hilarious busting of a pinata ended the night. Most of us were coming off hikes and regardless of how many times you have done them, they take their toll. Bodies found hammocks. Mitch and Megan and all the members of the Quetzel Trekkers Team were great hosts. Not to be forgotten is coolest of them all Caña Quetzeltrekker. Thanks for a fun night.
|A Quetzel Christmas - Have fun guy...but get back to work
We are all products of our own culture and repetitious celebrations. I read recently that one of the most dangerous phrases is "We have always done things that way". I believe it pertained to business and the lost art of challenging the status quo. Traditions are amazing. If we take "We have always done things that way" and ten do it another way we can learn to appreciate our own time honored traditions a bit more. Breaking away from them once in a while and see what happens. Maybe you will find a huge park with lots of noise and people on Christmas Eve and have a great time. Maybe, just maybe you and learn to celebrate with out the need for consumer gifts that you really do not need.
Feliz Navidada Desde Nicaragua
Eric Barron decided that going down Cerro Negro to break the land speed record for a bike would be a great idea. He hit 174km/h before the bike disintegrated under him. He survived but a few locals in the crowd went "hey, what if we use wooden planks?" and a new tourist activity was born.
Watch Eric Barron's ill fated but historic run down Cerro Negro. Take note of the pitch of the volcano
Score to date:
New Zealand 1