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728 meters of difference in altitude are hard-fought history as we are standing on top of the cerro nego. part of the volcanic chain of the cordillera los maribios near león, it is one of nicaragua’s most active volcanoes.

it was in 1999 when the cerro negro last covered the land with a heavy wave of magma. solidified, it still displays dramatically how the slow gush ate into the earth. but what once was havoc and destruction is now fertile ground: the ‘black beast’ sits in an ocean of yellow sardillo blossoms and fecund peanut fields. however, the closer we get to the cerro negro, the more hostile nature becomes. ashes have colored the soil pitch black and soon we find ourselves in a marsian landscape of six-foot chunks of lava. as the burning sun is charring this rough patch of land, we experience perfect loneliness.

the mind goes on a journey of its own and soon visits upon the realization that one is standing above an active magma chamber, a direct link into the inner of the earth. quiet solitude and rousing force. the thought is overwhelming and frightening.

further up the cerro negro, a gust of wind arises, and the air turns cooler. still, the basalt under our feet is warm. however, its colors are changing, as iron, sulfur, and magnesium infuse its deep black with a smoldering palette of red, yellow, and white. all of a sudden, thick vapors are permeating the air. down in the maw, countless little volcanoes are seething and simmering.

the view across the land is breathtaking. in this fantastic scenery, we feel incredibly small.