This place is volcanic.
This post is about numero dos.
Stories about a crater
Rincon de la Vieja (The Old Woman's Corner) is an active volcano. Its name comes from a Romeo-and-Juliet-esque tale of a princess who sneaks away from her home to meet her lover, the Prince of a rival tribe. The princess has a newborn with the prince and when her father finds out, tosses the prince and the child into the volcano's crater. In mourning, the princess becomes recluse and goes to live on the volcano where she becomes a famed witch doctor.
In 2012, Rincon de la Vieja erupted and remains very active to date. When I visit in 2014, the trail to the crater was still closed to the public, which is kind of a bummer because I haven't seen a volcano's crater in person yet.
The trail to the crater.
Catarata la Cangreja
With the crater trail blocked, I opted to see La Cangreja Fall instead. It's a moderately strenuous hike through forest and through grassy hills. There are some impressive banyan trees along the way with great buttressed trunks. Some of these trees are so large that our trail tunnels right through them.
The trail weaves between these huge Banyan trees.
It takes me about three hours to reach Cangreja Falls. The water's refreshingly cold as most falls tend to be. I have my lunch, a peanut butter sandwich, and rest for a while.
There's not a soul around. I was the only one to check in at the visitor's center when I arrived, so the chances are good. I check twice to make sure no one's approaching from the trail before I strip down naked and jump in the water.
Once you've done it, you'll find that skinny dipping is really the only way to swim, that the only real way to enjoy a waterfall at the end of a trail is to throw yourself in au naturel. I do a few laps and shower off under the falls before coming back on land. It seems I dress just in time. Others begin trickling into the area just minutes later.
Yes, it was that awesome to skinny dip in this pool.
The ranger marked a few mud pots and geysers for me on the map and I follow a slightly different trail on my return.
There are also some hot springs with supposed medicinal properties, but signs posted all around them warn that the water's dangerously hot to enter.
Rincon de la Vieja Volcano is in the distance.
The mud pots resemble the upper lip of a witch doctor's cauldron, gurgling up gases that smell of sulfur. From where the barrier is, I can feel the sauna-like heat washing over me in waves. I wonder if it's that much warmer up by the crater, but it's probably something I won't find out for a while. As of this writing, there are still reviews on travel sites saying that the crater trail's closed.
Not the best picture, but you can see bubbles coming up in the mud.
A hot spring.