A single line of hikers trudged up the blackened earth in front of me. The ground shifted beneath me and suddenly I found myself three foot further down the volcano, Cerro Negro, than I had been before. The rocks and ash were burning to the touch. Maybe at the next break there might be some reprieve, I thought, maybe at the next stop there will be some shade.
It turns out the tour operators hadn’t been over estimating when they asked you to carry at least a litre and a half of water for only a forty five minute climb. Some were eagerly glugging away, empty bottles crushed back into backpacks whilst others gleefully tipped theirs over sun scorched temples.
Sweat cascaded down my forehead and back mixing with the dirt and ash from my previous tumble. I followed the muddy line down my arm to the wooden board I was carrying and knew that soon the sweaty struggle would be worth it. Worth it for forty five seconds of pure exhilaration as I hurtled back down the volcano side, gripping nothing but a short rope and holding onto my goggles for dear life. But first we had to make it to the top.
We stopped just before the summit to gaze over the green land below. It stretched for miles before hitting the sea. In the other direction, volcano after volcano neatly lined up, no doubt with counterpart hikers looking back over to us.
We changed into our very fetching jumpsuits , goggles and gloves. I’m not sure what kind of giant my jumpsuit was made for but I was for sure glad that I had it. I was less sure about how well the gloves were going to protect my hand with more holes than material.
It turns out, I needn’t have worried. I guess only I would hike for 45 minutes towards what was promised as an exhilarating ride at up to 90km/h to get stuck in the ash. Repeatedly. I’d query whether I even made it above 10km/h. CNN put volcano boarding here at number two on A Bucket List for Thrill Seekers: 50 Things to do Before You Die.
I ran down the side of that damn volcano quicker than I was going on my bum.
Time after time, I dug myself out of the ash whilst other’s whizzed past me.
I dragged myself back to the van, cleaning ash out of my ears, grumpy as can be.