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SymphonicDan

[SymphonicDan] quits his job and travels the world [Level 19]

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Congratulations!!!! Isn't it fascinating how things you don't expect much from run often surprisingly well and others that you prepared for so much don't? Shows how tricky it is to stay relaxed enough when something is really important to us. And then with it being streamed live on top! That's a lot of nerve to keep. Congrats on mastering it and getting such good results despite the bad rounds in between, you rocked it woot woot

And you did get your medal :) how awesome

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Those are great scores, congrats!!! :D Even got yourself a medal. :) 

 

Would you like to come back next year and improve your scores or was it a one time fun thing?

 

Have a great time in SF!

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Whoa, I had no idea it had been so long since my last update! :o Thanks zenLara for reminding me - I left San Francisco on the 14th November and since then I've been living in León, Nicaragua, volunteering as a volcano guide with QuetzalTrekkers. (Damn volcanoes, always getting lost and needing guiding....)

 

So 7 weeks later I've done a lot of hiking (29 days so far) and I'm a lot fitter for things like carrying 15kg up the side of a volcano. And maybe I tolerate the heat better now, or maybe I've just forgotten what it feels like to be cold haha. Anyway, here are some of the cool places I've been working:

 

Telica

 

This is a volcano where you can actually walk right up to the edge of the crater and look down at the lava below, and usually we do this as a 2-day hike with camping, cooking on a campfire. So for example I woke up on Christmas day to take a group of tourists to see this:

 

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They also have pools of boiling mud, which you can walk right up to:

 

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El Hoyo

 

Here we have beautiful views over lots of Nicaragua:

 

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Cerro Negro

 

This is a really new volcano, where hundreds of tourists come every day to go "volcano boarding" - sliding 600 metres down a 42-degree slope on loose rocks. It's lots of fun and feels kinda crazy:

 

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San Cristóbal

 

This is the highest volcano in Nicaragua, and the climb is about 1040 metres from start to finish, up a 35-degree slope of loose rocks and scree, where you need a pair of walking sticks and a lot of patience, but only takes 2-3 hours to ascend. Near the top it is sometimes so windy that you can't stand up :o Then on the way down you can just run down on the soft loose rocks and you descend the top 500 metres in under 10 minutes, which is so much fun.

 

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So overall it's super hot here (30'C), the people are great, Nicaragua is pretty safe to live in, and everything is convenient and cheap, at least for Westerners. Other random things that happened:

  • I caught Zika (which is really not a big deal, most of the guides have had it) and was well again after a few days
  • I've seen scorpions, hummingbirds, iguanas and snakes
  • There's a salsa night I often go to
  • Sometimes we ride hanging off the back of the vehicles, which here is apparently allowed
  • I've had to escort one client off a volcano because she was too ill, and then had to walk/run my way up the first day's trail alone to beat the sunset
  • I lost my phone somewhere, so currently I don't have anything to use as a camera :(

I'll be here until mid-February, then I'll do some travelling around here... and then I don't know what I'm doing! So far my adventures included:

  • backpacking around Slovenia, Hungary and Romania
  • MCWC and Memoriad competitions
  • Spanish language school in Valencia, Spain
  • Visiting Paris and San Francisco
  • Tour guide in Nicaragua

So if anyone has suggestions for adventures I should do after March... please let me know :)

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Wow! Pretty intense weeks. So nice to hear from you.

When you say you'll be doing some travelling around here, you mean you plan to visit several countries in south america or are you staying in Nicaragua? What do you think about Canada? (maybe when it's not so cold...) Africa?

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Great to hear from you, I was wondering how you're doing! Your adventures sound absolutely amazing and I love the pictures! Volcano boarding sounds terrifying though. :P 

 

I don't have any immediate suggestions (I mean how do you choose from the whole world?! So much to see and do!) but maybe think about what you're missing right now or what you want more of? Maybe a change of pace, or different climate or different nature (or maybe you love it and want more of it?) maybe you want to learn something or just chill or an event? If you give us a hint then maybe we could give you better suggestions. :)   

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7 hours ago, Mad Hatter said:

Great to hear from you, I was wondering how you're doing! Your adventures sound absolutely amazing and I love the pictures! Volcano boarding sounds terrifying though. :P 

 

I don't have any immediate suggestions (I mean how do you choose from the whole world?! So much to see and do!) but maybe think about what you're missing right now or what you want more of? Maybe a change of pace, or different climate or different nature (or maybe you love it and want more of it?) maybe you want to learn something or just chill or an event? If you give us a hint then maybe we could give you better suggestions. :)   

 

Good questions, Mad Hatter :)

  • What am I missing right now? Time to work on mentally-stimulating projects. Meeting people that I don't have a formal responsibility for.
  • What do I want more of? Practise of languages. Good weather. Outdoors activities. Things that will look cool on a CV.
  • Change of pace? Staying in the same place for a while is nice.
  • Different climate of nature? Don't mind either way. Not somewhere cold though!
  • Learn something? Yep, either something new or an existing skill (music / language / software / maths / physical skills)
  • Just chill? Short-term that's great, but I need something more substantial after a while.
  • An event? That definitely works too, although I don't have any yet on my radar!

 

13 hours ago, zenLara said:

Wow! Pretty intense weeks. So nice to hear from you.

When you say you'll be doing some travelling around here, you mean you plan to visit several countries in south america or are you staying in Nicaragua? What do you think about Canada? (maybe when it's not so cold...) Africa?

 

I intend to travel more in Central America, because I am already here. There is so much to see in Nicaragua, and I also hear good things about Guatemala, Costa Rica and Colombia.

 

Canada has never interested me, because I perceive it to be quite similar to England except with more dramatic landscapes and often much colder. Many people have told me good things about it though, so maybe one day I go :) For Africa I've already been to Morocco but never sub-Saharan Africa. I think I'd prefer a break in developed countries before making any travels to Africa, otherwise I won't appreciate the details.

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Good and busy! I can't believe it took me almost 10 days to make a reply :o Thanks zenLara for asking :)

 

I've just finished my last hike volunteering at QuetzalTrekkers León (a crazy 3-in-1 hike over a bunch of volcanoes) and I can't believe that I'm done here (okay I have one office shift left)...

 

So my fitness has improved quite a lot for hiking. There's a hill that takes about an hour to climb and when I first did it in November carrying 15kg (33lb) it was uncomfortably difficult. Last week I carried 19kg (42lb) and found it easy to march up with the fastest clients. Yesterday I was only carrying about 15kg but was fine to run back and forth checking that everyone was okay (they weren't, but it was okay in the end) and eventually to carry someone's bag, and didn't feel tired at any point. It's amazing how the body adapts to whatever you make it do, especially when it's near the edge of your comfort zone.

 

Some other things that I've done:

  • visited Ometepe island, and learned to ride a motorbike!
  • visited Cosigüina volcano, near Honduras, where there are lots of snakes
  • camped on the beach under the stars
  • hitch-hiked as a group of 10 people (and a dog) on a single pick-up truck
  • drove a motor boat (I asked the guide on a mangrove tour if I could drive haha)
  • visited Costa Rica for 10 minutes to renew my Nicaraguan visa

My biggest mystery right now is what I'm going to do next. I'll start with some travelling around Nicaragua... but then I need a new purpose in my adventure... My ideas now are:

  • another volunteering project, probably in Central America
  • just backpacking around for many weeks in Central America
  • working on a personal project while living in some cool place (e.g. learning to make a website) (and not sure where the cool place should be)
  • some event

I'm going to make some decisions and plans this week, so any suggestions are appreciated :)

 

Also, now that I'm not guiding/hiking 4-5 days per week, I may have more time to return as a regular on Nerd Fitness...

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6 hours ago, SymphonicDan said:

So my fitness has improved quite a lot for hiking. There's a hill that takes about an hour to climb and when I first did it in November carrying 15kg (33lb) it was uncomfortably difficult. Last week I carried 19kg (42lb) and found it easy to march up with the fastest clients. Yesterday I was only carrying about 15kg but was fine to run back and forth checking that everyone was okay (they weren't, but it was okay in the end) and eventually to carry someone's bag, and didn't feel tired at any point. It's amazing how the body adapts to whatever you make it do, especially when it's near the edge of your comfort zone.

This sounds fantastic. You must be stronger and have great stamina now! Wow.

 

6 hours ago, SymphonicDan said:

Some other things that I've done:

  • visited Ometepe island, and learned to ride a motorbike!
  • visited Cosigüina volcano, near Honduras, where there are lots of snakes
  • camped on the beach under the stars
  • hitch-hiked as a group of 10 people (and a dog) on a single pick-up truck
  • drove a motor boat (I asked the guide on a mangrove tour if I could drive haha)
  • visited Costa Rica for 10 minutes to renew my Nicaraguan visa

Everything sounds exciting (well, maybe not the visa burocracy...). I love motorbikes but I'm terrified of them at the same time, so I never learnt how to drive them. And the motor boat, oh, wow!

 

I wouldn't know which suggestions to do, your life looks so amazing already. Maybe visiting Brazil?

 

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Amazing.  I forget, did you have a set time frame that this adventure was going to last?  Or are you just going to keep going as long as you can keep the funds to do it?  

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On 2/15/2017 at 8:12 AM, Rooks said:

Amazing.  I forget, did you have a set time frame that this adventure was going to last?  Or are you just going to keep going as long as you can keep the funds to do it?  

 

I'm going to travel until it becomes either:

  • economically impractical (I run out of money, or need to carry on with a career to get where I want to be); or
  • less attractive than settling down long-term somewhere (probably the UK)

At the moment neither criterion is in danger of being true, so I'll be carrying on travelling for more time this year :)

 

So yesterday I finally left QuetzalTrekkers to start travelling again, and I'm now in Granada (Nicaragua). A couple of things that happened:

 

Volcano racing: I feel a lot fitter now, so I went back to a couple of the volcanoes to attempt to hike them as fast as possible - although without carrying a backpack. First I did the entire first day of El Hoyo in 50 minutes (usually takes about 3 hours for groups with rucksacks), and the hill at the start in 24:40 (the previous record for that was 28 minutes) so I was pleased with those.

 

Next I joined one of our tours to Cerro Negro, where we do volcano boarding along a slope that's 560 metres long at an angle of 42 degrees (so a drop of about 400 metres). As guides, we usually don't use boards but we run down the volcano... so I tried doing this as fast as possible and it took 62 seconds :P I thought the difficult part would be not falling over, but actually it was simply getting out of breath! We have a video of me doing this (where I look ridiculous) here:

 

 

Beach night: some of us guides went to the beach to surf at sunset, stay the night and kayak in the morning amongst the mangroves. It was my first time surfing, and I didn't manage to stand up but bodyboarding in the Pacific Ocean was a lot of fun! And now I know how to practise so I can go another time to play. We got some local fish from a restaurant and went to sleep on the beach under the stars.

 

At about 12.30am I was awoken by a couple of local guys with a gigantic flashlight, asking whether my backpack had been stolen. To my alarm, it had been taken from between me and my friend as we all slept. The guys claimed that someone had stolen their bike and they were looking for them, although that didn't really explain why they were looking on the beach (not where I'd go if I'd just stolen a bike) or how they'd guessed my bike had been stolen... We worried that the guys were actually trying to separate us to find our valuables (luckily mine were hidden in the bottom of my sleeping bag) so we took all our stuff to a friend who lives nearby and slept in his living room. Luckily in the morning when I went to the police someone had found our bag, complete with a couple of items, but missing a load of random items like my swimming shorts, headlamp, glasses, towel, sleeping bag bag, etc. Next time I'll make it harder to move the bag without disturbing us... 

 

So in the morning we were running a bit late but did the kayak tour anyway (I'd done it in a powerboat before so wanted to show some of my friends the mangroves and turtle hatchery by kayak). We kayaked as fast as possible and just about made it back for the 2pm bus, and now I have blisters on my thumbs... But we did get to see turtles that had hatched only a few hours earlier :)

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10 hours ago, SymphonicDan said:

First I did the entire first day of El Hoyo in 50 minutes (usually takes about 3 hours for groups with rucksacks)

o.O

 

10 hours ago, SymphonicDan said:

But we did get to see turtles that had hatched only a few hours earlier

So cute!

 

10 hours ago, SymphonicDan said:

The guys claimed that someone had stolen their bike and they were looking for them, although that didn't really explain why they were looking on the beach (not where I'd go if I'd just stolen a bike) or how they'd guessed my bike had been stolen...

Yes, all that sounds pretty weird. Nice that everything ended fine.

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17 hours ago, SymphonicDan said:

I thought the difficult part would be not falling over, but actually it was simply getting out of breath!

 

I imagine once you start going you have to keep going! :D Awesome video too.

 

17 hours ago, SymphonicDan said:

But we did get to see turtles that had hatched only a few hours earlier

 

That's so adorable! Don't you have any pics/vid??

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1 hour ago, Mad Hatter said:

I imagine once you start going you have to keep going! :D Awesome video too.

 

Agreed.  That seems like a pretty steep angle plus it seems like not a rock solid surface.  Can't imagine stopping would work well. :) Either way, awesome video!

 

Sorry to hear about the robbery, but glad you got back at least some of your stuff.

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For the turtles, no pics unfortunately as the first time I went I didn't have a phone/camera, and the second time I went I was kayaking so didn't bring along any valuables :( I am starting to take some pictures again now, so I'll share some of those sometime.

 

Speaking of which... when's the next NF challenge? I intend to participate for the first time since... July 2016 :o

 

The slope is mostly soft gravel so if you need to stop you can just turn to the side, lean back keep your legs strong... although having said that I got a couple of bad scrapes from trying that in the past so maybe it's better to keep going :P

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Boo for no turtle pics. But I'm looking forward to other pictures!!

 

Whoooo challenge! It'd be awesome to see you back here. The next challenge starts March 19th. 

 

Yeeaah, that sounds like an accident waiting to happen had I been the one running. :D 

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What a blast! My siblings ran down the top part of Mount St Helens like this and I was too young to be along on the trip and have been super jealous ever since. Watching your video maybe I'm not anymore :D although that must be super fun, right?

 

Glad to hear you still have all your valuables and are looking out for yourself!! Also great to hear you are in company a lot. It must make travelling so much more special :)

YAY on seeing you on the challenges again!

 

Any decisions yet on where you will go next? Seems this place will be hard to top ;)

 

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