We’ve had some pretty crazy and long days since we’ve arrived in Central America. It’s hard to believe that we have only been here for 10 days! It feels like so much longer.
We decided to leave our hostel in San Juan del Sur, The Naked Tiger, after spending two nights there. The “biggest party in Central America”, Sunday Funday, was on the Sunday…. the day after we left. We have been told over and over by other travellers that we have missed out and would regret that decision – but we have yet to do so! The one party that we had experienced there was quite the event, and we could see how it would be easy to get ourselved into a trouble in a party of that size and nature. Plus, we had more things we wanted to do and see, with limited time! So we left. We took the shuttle down to the town and started to make our way to the bus stop, but of course it wasnt just a regular walk to the bus stop – we passed by a lady dressed head to toe in leopard print (I’m talking from the leopard print shoes she was wearing to the leopart print scarf on her head and every single thing in between) carrying a spider monkey. We followed her down the street and realized she had another one too! Soon enough, we were being climbed on by this amazing creature, mesmerizing it with our jewelery which it enjoyed nibbling on.
The bus we took from San Juan del Sur was what is referred to as the ‘chicken busses’ of Nicaragua. Old, yellow schoolbusses with ‘upgraded’ seats put in them. We hopped in, eager to move on tto the next place, and settled in the best we could. It wasn’t long before the bus was PACKED with people of all shapes and sizes. Things were fine, even thought it was hot and crowded, until there was a bit of commotion at my side, and then I felt it – the vomit hitting my foot. Honestly, all I could do was turn to the girl next to me (an American traveller), laugh, and tell her what happened. There was still quite a bit of travelling ahead of us that day, and there was absolutely no use getting upset about this happening! I definitely would rather that not of happened, but hey, now I’ve got this funny story to tell! I offered the lady a Gravol to make her feel better (and prevent it from happening again?), and tried to communicate to her exactly that. I still have no idea if she took it or not. (I probably wouldn’t have taken a strange pill from a foreign stranger that didn’t speak the same language either… LOL). Thankfully, we werent on that bus for long. But as I was leaving the bus, we had to hurry really quickly since our connecting bus was about to leave and our bags had already been moved to it, and since I was running, and since my shoe was all wet from the contents of her stomach, I slipped and wiped out pretty hard on the stairs going down and off the bus. Good thing there were 3 local men who caught me mid wipe-out so that I didn’t land in the mess that had trailed along with me! What a relief it was to get on the next bus.
We stopped again in Managua, picked up some food for the next ride, and caught our last bus for Leon! Jasmine and I chatted the whole way about a ton of random things. It was a really lovely last leg of the journey for the day. We arrived at our destination in Leon!! Yay!!
Leon is a very colonial city, and the first evening there we just walked around and around and around, exploring the old streets and looking at the Cathedral (The biggest in Central America!). Our hostel the first night there, Sonati, was pretty bad. It was cheap, but as we explored the city the next day, we realized that there were better places we could be for cheaper (more walking around and around and around)! So the next night we stayed at another hostel, Yia Yia. We were very fortunate to end up there because we met a really amazing guy from England, Bijan. The three of us played cards that night over a drink, and walked around to get street food before settling in for the night. The next morning we woke up bright and early to head to the volvano Cerro Negro to do some volcano boarding!! We are super glad we had the opportunity to do that. It was a beautiful hike, about 45 minutes, up and then a quick 45 seconds down. I ended up getting 19 km/h (they recorded it at the end). I was made fun of a little for this speed (the highest speed was 60 km/hr!), but I started off good, got a little too confident, and wiped out over and over again and by the end wasn’t able to keep up a good constant speed! It was a great experience. We were covered in ash and dust and rocks.
We called Leon the ‘City of Circles’, since we went in so many.
Bijan had mentioned to us the place that he was off to next, and it sounded like paradise. So naturally, we met up with him later on the next day. After a bus ride to Managua, and then another to Masaya, and a taxi ride… we arrived in Laguna de Apoyo. Paraside was right!!! This lagoon is created in the crater of a volcano. The water was so clear. SO warm. So perfect. Bijan had met up with some people he had met earlier there, and when we arrived we were surprised that we had met them earlier the day before! We arrived late, and were exhausted to we went to bed early. But we woke up the next day and spent the entire eating delicious food, swimming, and lounging on the beach and the floating blow up bed/dock thing. It was great to have a day of relaxation after our hectic bus rides and chaotic days! That evening that followed this perfect day, is an evening I won’t forget any time soon. The 6 of us lounged around on the float on the water, taking turns swimming in to bring more beer, until the sun went down. When we started to get a bit cold (even thought it was still really hot out!) we showered up and met a bit later for dinner. We sat around a huge table and talked, laughed, ate, drank, and played cards and other games. Soon enough, we were the only ones left in the bar on the beach! Caroline, a girl from Germany, fell pretty hard down the stairs (there were steps where there shouldn’t have been steps… and there weren’t any steps where there should have been steps!) and Jasmine and I bandaged her all up. She went to bed shortly after that (I dont blame her! She was really banged up!). And soon, the rest of us made the decision to swim out to the dock.
Tom, Nick, Bijan, Jasmine and I jumped in the warm, dark water, and swam a dozen or so meters to the dock and climbed on. We sat there for HOURS, watching the lightening storm in the distance, feeling the energy of it, feeling the warm air. We laughed, pushed eachother into the water, swam to shore to bring more beer. It was a perfect mix of new friendship, old earth, and living in the present moment. Finally, about three or four in the morning, we took our tired, wet, drunk, happy selves to bed.
The next stop for all of us was Grenada. This was another colonial city – I believe the oldest in Nicaragua (don’t hold me to that!). The six of us shared a dorm, and the hostel had a pool! I didn’t really enjoy Grenada that much. There were quite a few really beautiful buildings there which I absolutely enjoyed, but I found it dirty, and unsafe. The beach was polluted and not very pleasant, and there were many children begging in the streets. One thing I really enjoyed in Grenada though was the phone call I was able to make home. I called my mom, and she answered with “Paige?! Is that you?! I didn’t expect to hear from you!” I think that this is one of the best things about travelling – it’s a kind of joy that you don’t often get to hear in someone elses voice. I was very grateful for it.
From Grenada, we moved on to Ometepe Island. The huge Island on the HUGE Lake Nicaragua. I’m very intrigued by this lake because it is the only fresh water lake that has bull sharks ! Again, don’t hold me to this fact, but from what I have heard and what I have read, this is what I’ve gathered! There is a river from the ocean that allows for this to happen, and these sharks are able to adapt to living in this fresh water for short amonunts of time. So that’s pretty neat! We stayed at Finca de Zipelote – a sustainable farm! It was neat. It reminded me quite a bit of the farm, PunPun, that I spent a week at in Thailand. The first night we were there it was pizza night! SO NEEDED ! We’ve had really bad luck finding good food in Nicaragua. The pizza was all freshly, hand made, and the veggies all from the garden from the farm. They were HUGE, so we ate the leftovers for breakfast the morning after. There were also some jewlery stands set up, and we had fun shopping at those. We bought some things! Our options for sleeping there were in hammocks, or a private room. We decided on the private room, which was pretty much a wooden hut with a straw hat, with an attic (our room) and open underneith with hammocks. The attic had a double bed with a rose-detailed mosquito net, and a pink light. Super romantic! It was open on both ends, so the fresh air blew right through, and when it rained we got misted. It was nice to be so close to nature.
The next day I woke up early to do the yoga class and 7am (Unfortunately, the WORST yoga class I’ve ever taken part in), crawled back in to bed and slept and read and slept some more. I woke up a while later (Jasmine kept sleeping), and chatted with a wonderful guy from America for a very long time! Finally, I woke Jasmine up and we ventured off to find some lunch. We came across a little Taco stand and had fish tacos (for Jas) and a bean and avocado burrito (for me!). This little place was owned by a man from California who had been living here for 8 years with his Nicaraguan wife. We sat and talked for quite a while. At the end he offered to be our ‘taxi’ , but cut us a much better deal than an actual taxi would, and picked us up early this morning, sending us off with advice (such as the ‘collectivo’ taxis) on how to get to the border! After we had arranged this deal, we were determined to find a coffee farm to do a tour of. We walked and walked and walked, and we finally came across the turn off. Then we walked and walked and walked some more. We ended up hiking up a pretty steep dirt road between farms for 1.5 kilometers to the coffee plantation. Not the journey we were expecting! And of course, when we were up there there was no tour or anything for us to do. We did get up high enough to see a great view though!! We made our way back down to the main road, stopped for dinner (we had worked up an appetite!) at a great place that served a DELICIOUS roasted veggie and hummus sandwhich on whole grain bread. The veggies grown right there, the bread made right there, and the hummus too! It was served with a fresh salsa (SO GOOD) and plantain chips (ALSO SO GOOD!). I also got a banana and cacao smoothie. Boy, was I ever satisfied. As we were sitting there, a few friends we met earlier the day before had pulled up and joined us. We made our way back with them and once back on the farm, we climbed up on a tower to watch the sunset. From there, you could see both of the volcanoes on the island, the lake, and the sun setting. It was beautiful.
Today has been a day of travel: We left the farm we were staying at on Ometepe Island this morning at 6:00 in order to catch the 7:00 cargo ship to the main land (San Jorge). We had a destination in mind for today’s journey – to arrive in Monte Verde before the sun went down – but about half way through we were pretty unsure where we would end up at the end of the day (Before dark? After dark? At all?).
From the ferry we took a ‘collectivo’ taxi (local, not necessarily licensed to be taxis – yes we were brave today!) to Rivas, which then switched to another collectivo taxi instead of taking the bus, in order to get to the border. We arrived at the border at about 10:00 (we made GREAT time!!!) and we crossed the very chaotic border very efficiently and then hopped onto a bus to Liberia! We had about a 30 minute wait for our next bus to Cañas so we took advantage of the break and got some food. Our understanding was that from there we could catch yet another bus to take us to Monte Verde, but when we arrived there and got off the bus there was no connecting bus to get us to Monte Verde. Things got REALLLLLLLY confusing from here on. We were told that we needed to go to another terminal and get on another bus that would take us there, then we were told that there was no bus, then we were told that we needed to go back on the bus that we were on in the first place and go to the coast, which THERE we could catch our connecting bus. SO CONFUSING!! At this point, we started reevaluating our plan to end up in Monte Verde, instead we maybe could spend a few days on the coast. All of a sudden, the bus pulled over in a little town called Irma, and we were kicked off and told to cross the street and to catch the bus that would stop there in half an hour to take us up through the hillls to our original desired destination. So thats what we did! We got off, crossed the street and waited. Sure enough, a bus came! We made it through the extremely windey bus ride through the narrow roads up and down the hills and made it to Monte Verde wayyy before the sun went down (well, around 5!). We travelled more kilometers than we thought was possible in less than 12 hours. Sucess? I’d say so!
Nothing is simply simple. Everything, even the most mundane of things, is an adventure!