Adventure Travel: 15 Firsts of Hiking Cerro Musún, Nicaragua

My recent travel adventure was hiking in Cerro Musún, near Rio Blanco, Matagalpa, Nicaragua. It’s a very muddy mountain. Rubber boots are a must. This month, I chose to hike Cerro Musún with my friend, Deva. For safety reasons, hiking is one of the few travel activities I almost never do solo. Hiking is a fun way to feel accomplished with a friend, too!

Each month I travel to at least one new place, whether it’s a lake, volcano, or mountain. I experienced 15 firsts on this hiking trip. Enjoy!

Hiking Cerro Musún was the first time I:

1. Was on the nearly on the edge of the RAAN, the only department Peace Corps volunteers are prohibited from going, for safety reasons I’m not fully aware of, other than the RAAN’s coast being in a strategic location for drug smugglers.

2. Had a spooky white dog, Princesa, as a hotel ghost…I mean, host. It moved around so much that I couldn’t get a clear shot of her pink, bulging eyes.

Princesa, our hotel's host dog...or ghost dog?
Princesa, our hotel’s host dog…or ghost dog?

3. Saw every other person in town wearing black, knee-length rubber boots. Going hiking reminded me of the UGG boots my friends wore in college. Except this time they were necessary. It rains every day here. This area should be called the “Wild, Wet, West”.

Rubber boots are a must in the Wild, Wet West!
Rubber boots are a must in the Wild, Wet West!

4. Wore rubber boots that were NOT wedges. All 4 years of college, I wore the coolest blue and green plaid-pattered rainboots. They were the only “heels” I wore consistently. I felt sassy as I listened to the Buena Vista Club’s “La Carretera” while stomping through puddles on the way to Italian class.
5. Saw people in rubber boots crossing a river on horseback.

Have I mentioned the importance of rubber boots yet?
Have I mentioned the prevalance of rubber boots yet?

6. Took a selfie while crossing a swinging bridge with a broken piece of sheet metal as the base.

Cheese!
Cheese!

7. Hiked straight up a muddy mountain for 3 hours. I didn’t fall into the small pits of mud, but our legs were covered in mud. I felt like a kid again. There were also eye-catching red and purple rock formations.

8. Saw 5 piglets sleeping while the mother snorted at us.

Piglets, doing what they do.
Piglets, doing what they do.

9. Saw spiders 6 inches from my face. As we hiked farther into the mountain, we put sticks in front of us to clear away the spider webs in our path.

10. Felt incredibly relieved to sit on a swing. Deva and I snacked on applies, nuts, and Doritos while overlooking the mountain.

Swinging on the mountainside.
Swinging on the mountainside.

11. Stood on the edge of a waterfall, and saw another waterfall from there.

Waterfalls abound at Cerro Musun.
Waterfalls abound at Cerro Musun.

12. Sat underneath a waterfall with my clothes on. I wore a swimming suit underneath, but my instinct told me not to strip. Another man along the way had chosen to join us. Oh, and he had a machete with him. He and our guide felt it necessary to hack at the sticks in our way. It was a nice gesture, but I still felt uncomfortable taking my clothes off in front of men I had just met. They were watching us the whole time anyway, probably because it was weird to see two American women go hiking for fun.

You can sit anywhere you want, if you believe in yourself.
You can sit anywhere you want, if you believe in yourself.

13. Wasn’t asked by my male guide if I was married. I’ve become so used to hearing this as commonly as I hear “bless you” after a sneeze in the bus, or on the street, or at the cash register. He did ask me was if I went hiking in my country, and what the lyrics to Cher’s “Do you believe” song meant. I explained, adding that the song was much too cheesy for me. He laughed.

William, our quiet, machete-wielding guide.
William, our quiet, machete-wielding guide.

14. Felt like Julie Andrews in the South of Music, as we hiked down through unbelievably gorgeous meadows. It felt like a dream. It also felt like we were in a randomly placed golf course with meticulously cut grass and thick, moping willow trees on the hillsides.

The Hills are Alive, With the Sound of Musun!
The Hills are Alive, With the Sound of Musun!

15. Took a 3 hour refurbished school bus ride home, ate beans and rice, showered, went dancing, and came home at 1 AM to my first baby tarantula.

Talk about adventure travel! Not only did I go hiking, I also experienced another side of the department of Matagalpa I haven’t seen. My hotel cost about $4, and my guide charged about $10. This experience made me realize how many activities Matagalpa offers. And that you can come home to a baby tarantula whenever.

Waterfall fun.
Waterfall fun.

Whether hiking, kayaking, or ziplining, what is your favorite adventure travel first?

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