We arrived at the Masaya Volcano National Park filled with anticipation. What will it be like to look into a crater? (And, in Jenna’s case: What happens if it erupts?)
The visitors’ center explained how volcanos are formed, the spiritual significance of the place through the years and to different faiths and taught us about the animal and plant life in the area.
In 1529 the Catholic Friar Francisco de Bobidilla ordered that a cross be placed on the crater. It was considered then, “the mouth of hell.” Today, the cross that overlooks all three craters, is a replica. We were unable to climb stairs up to it because of rock slides and other activity in the last year. Eventually, it is expected that the hill will collapse.
It is said that centuries ago, local indigenous communities made sacrifices into the crater. And there is a theory that Somoza’s regime dumped the bodies of “the disappeared” into the crater as well.
Lately, the Nindiri crater has been letting go of a lot of sulfur gas. We were advised to stand at that crater for no more than five minutes. Although we couldn’t smell sulfur and no one experienced skin or eye irritation, we heeded the warning.
Our guide Aldo, who is from the community of Esteli, has seen from the road at night lava emitting light from the volcano, but we saw no lava today. Most of our time was spent enjoying the view — and contemplating the destruction that occurred before the San Fernando crater valley was a valley at all.