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Ear infections, Masaya Volcano, and a pleasant bout of food poisoning

It's okay, Telepizza. I have reservations about large groups as well.

Obviously, getting back home from our five star vacation took some getting used to. There was the lack of five starness in our house, for example. And the lack of swimming pools. And the lack of zoo. We begrudgingly got used to these things and set about a little more relaxation in the couple of days before Leah took off.

Artistic dead tree on the way up Volcan Masaya

Leah had managed to pick up an ear infection in the poo-lake which had worsened during her swimming in the pool, so I took her to the excellent doctor who had so bravely operated on my bung toe. It turned out Leah had managed to get outer ear infections in both ears, and we hopped down to the chemist to get her some anti-biotics, eardrops, and painkillers. Unfortunately, the anti-biotics made her vomit, but luckily the painkillers were strong enough that at least she was floating on a fluffy white cloud while vomiting.

The sign at the top of the Masaya volcano - in Spanish

Leah and I braved the markets so she could shop for some souvenirs, which was great fun. We also had some obligatory breakfasts and tried to make our way to finding the well hidden and always-on-the-move post office. It was very adventurous.

For all you non-Spanish reading plebs, the sign... in English.

On the day before Leah left we decided it was time for her to experience some active volcano action, so we called on our faithful driver Ballardo to come and collect us for the afternoon and take us up to Masaya, to peer into the Santiago crater. Otherwise known as the mouth of hell. The journey up was particularly exciting, as Ballardo thrust his hefty C.D. collection at Dave and asked him to choose some music. Dave left the selection up to Ballardo, who promptly cranked the disco, much to the excitement of Leah and I and the chagrin of Kaleb, who was forced to sit between us and listen to us duet to the Bee Gees.

It's sensible to turn your back on the sulfur...

Our drive up the volcano was uneventful; we read our brochures which gave strict instructions about what to do in the case of "expulsions of rocks". At the top, we oohed and aahed at the expulsions of sulfur. Photos simply do not do justice to what it feels like to be standing at the mouth of a volcano, where you know that below your feet is the rumbling of lava. It's an awesome experience and I was just as blown away the second time as I was the first time. We climbed up to the cross, and gave Leah the tour guide talk we'd heard the first time. Then the wind changed, and we all got facefulls of sulfur. So we decided it was time to go, before breathing became too much of a chore.

But sometimes not even that works.

We asked Ballardo to take us home through the Pueblos Blancos, where we had originally gone with Veronica when we first arrived in Granada. We returned to Masatepe and purchased some lovely ceramic work, and Leah got some hammocks. We also purchased water to get rid of the sulfur taste, and then we headed home.

As it was Leah's final hurrah in Nicaragua we decided to head to Jimmy Three Fingers for a feast. We even got dressed up. It was particularly festive, there was toasting, and the food tasted delicious... however, something was rotten in the state of Bridget's plate.

Oh look. It's all fun, games, and berry coladas until somebody eats bad fish...

I was going to accompany Leah the following morning to the airport with our good friend Ballardo, but when breakfast time rolled round I was feeling particularly queasy so I nominated Dave to go to the airport and subsequently spent the next three days lying on the bathroom floor with food poisoning. It was my first bout of food poisoning, which was very exciting because I was beginning to think that my stomach was lined with cast iron or something. Luckily, Leah left before my illness manifested itself because I wasn't very good company at all.

And I think I'll save another visit to Jimmy's for next time I'm in Nicaragua; my stomach is just saying no.

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