THE CANYON IN SOMOTO
The Nicaguarese canyon
edging the border with Honduras sounded not-to-be-missed: a few meters large and seventy
meters deep gorge in the earth sneaking for four km.
I reached the nearest town called Somoto after a long day riding buses on
bumpy roads: Somoto is a laid back cute town settled in the mountains where the
revolutionary paintings on the walls and the "cow boys" playing on the streets
are his inhabitants.
It was the beginning of the rainy season and the canyon was supposed to be
off limits, but I wanted to try anyway. It didnt take too much to get a telephone
number of A guy who could guide me to the canyon.
Manuel was a robust guy who arrived riding a small Korean-made moped.
"So, how many people to the canyon?" he asked
"Only you???" He was surprised. He thought a little and again:
" if its only you, we will go by moped!"
"For me thats ok, but what about the rainy season? Is it safe to
He seemed doubtful answering: "do u want to swim?"
"Swim??!! Of course not!!" I replied without hesitation. Of
course I couldnt, mainly because I always carry the camera and the money belt with
"Ok lets meet tomorrow at 8.00 am in the main square" he
proposed without answering to my question about the safety.
After a quick bargaining we also agreed I would have paid 20$.
The next morning it was weakly raining while the moped was running on the
desert road connecting Somoto to the border with Honduras. After ten km we left the
well-paved road turning on a dirty road. Going further it was getting bumpier and bumpier
to such extent that for our back bone (and bottom) it was less painful walking, so Manuel
decided to get rid of the moped and proceed on our legs.
It didnt take too much that a muddy large river passing over our road
"Lets cross" Manuel exhorted
"Cross!?!? Hey man, am I wrong or I said I didnt want to
swim?" I wasnt so enthusiastic.
Anyway I didnt have many choices, so I followed Manuel while lifting
my small bag trying to stand despite the flow. I cursed quite a lot but I was surprised I
reached the opposite bank preserving my stuffs dry.
Manuel began calling somebody shouting.
"We need a boat" he explained me, " and Im calling the
boy who can provide it for us"
"Uhm, another surprise", I thought
After a while a young dark boy popped up from the forest and Manuel tried
to convince him about something.
"I asked him to take the boat of the community" he explained me
"but you have to pay him something for this borrow"
I reacted, "to pay?!? We agreed that the 20$ included
"its just a matter of few dollars" Manuel justified
I got upset for this second surprise but I got even more pissed off when
the third came:
"to reach this boat we have to cross the river again" Manuel
And so we did.
Once on the boat the poor young guy rowed like the hell trying to push such
big piece of wooden upstream, but he didnt take too much that the river was too
narrow and we had to prosecute on foot on the steep riverbank.
Finally we reached the point from where we could see the entrance of the
gorge: the muddy river was flowing out from a 80 meters deep cut in the rock that in some
points was as narrow as few meters. The sound of the water flowing was echoing from the
depth of the canyon.
There was no way to proceed being the riverbanks almost vertical.
Fourth and last surprise:
"Lets jump in the river and swim inside the canyon!!"
I looked at Manuel, I looked at the canyon and I replied:
"Friend, for today its enough with
the surprises and I want to stay alive: end of our trip, lets come back home!"