My friend Ian and I decided to hike Volcan Cosiguina in the far north west corner of Nicaragua. We caught a bus down dirt roads for 3 hours to reach the town below, Potosi. We arrived in the afternoon and set off on a two hour hike, easy. We reached the crater for sunset and it was stunning, from this point we could see Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador. After the sunset we set up camp up below the peak and started a fire, once it got dark we hiked back to the crater to watch a crescent moon rise over the lake in the crater below.
We went to bed early and woke up to watch the sunrise from the edge of the crater, all was going well and we had a but if time so we decided to try and walk to rim of the crater which we were told was possible. The first half was a nice easy trail but then all of a sudden we were headed way too far down the crater and the trail was gone! We were lost on the side of the volcano with a gallon of water between two of us and only a granola bar and trail mix for food. For the next few hours we searched and searched for the trail, both exhausted and not sure if we would make it. It was pretty scary. But then we found the trail again! Hooray! We were going to go back the way we had come even though it would take a while but then Ian assured me that if we followed the trail the other way it would go around the crater rim and cut down half the time, boy was he wrong. In the midday heat we had to scale three large peaks with less than a litre of water left between us! We essentially had to absail down a rock face and cut through hundreds of dead bushes to try and stay on what we thought was a path. We both almost broke down physically and mentally.
Finally we saw a point we recognised and people! These people gave us water and a Banana. We were back on track. Wrong again. Somehow we got lost and ended up on a dirt road, we were not strong enough to turn back and climb up the hill so we kept on walking down following footprints and horse poop. Finally we found a small hut owned by Ronaldo, we were saved! He took us in and gave us water. Then after we were rested is son took us in horse for about an hour to Ronadldos daughters house in a tiny village called San Luis. She fed us, let us shower, gave us water and a place to sleep! At that point we had been up and walking for 10-12 hours, we were completely exhausted and so very grateful for the kindness of this family. The village had no running water and very limited electricity, dirt floors and thatched house roofs. We slept right through the the night despite the the cries of dogs, chickens, cows, horses and whatever else! In the morning we woke at 4 to being the ‘short walk’ to the bus stop, one hour! As we heard the road we heard the bus coming, we began to run and scream for the bus to stop. It briefly halted but then it could not see us and continued driving we ran to the road where a local man on a motorbike asked us if that was the bus we needed, we said yes. He then sped off on his motorbike and drove in front of the bus to stop it for us! We made it to the bus. We really were safe this time and on the way home. We made it back to Leon a few hours later with cuts, bruises and blisters but we were so happy to be back!
I don’t even know how to describe the emotions I felt throughout this day, I have never been in a situation even close to this and you never know how you’ll react in a survival situation until you’re in one I guess! I was also astounded by the willingness of complete strangers who barely have anything themselves so so freely give us food, water, a place to sleep and whatever help we needed. It really does show the compassion and kindness of humanity.