Go to nicaragua if you get the chance.
Day 1 – Arrive at MGA and take a cab to Hospedaje La Quintana. Rented a room inside a family home, kids checking us out, uncles watching TV, etc. Slightly sketchy neighborhood.
Day 2 – Overslept despite time difference. Took a crazy cab ride. Saw donkey carts in with vehicular traffic. Ate chicken, beans and rice at comedor. Guys at the bus station walk up and give you unwanted directions, then demand a tip. Didn’t pay for the first bus, ended up somewhere we didn’t intend to go. Met Jerry & Daniel, Father/Son ex-pats growing food in Nicaragua. Jerry is a retired chemistry teacher and Daniel is a paleontologist. Daniel married a local woman and has a new baby. They invited us to stay at their hacienda if we make it to coffee country. Split cab costs then took another chicken bus (I rode shotgun) to San Juan del Sur. Found room in Hotel Buen Gusto. Swam at the beach. Met Jorge in the water and he told us about Nicaragua. Politics, safety and recommended Josseline’s for dinner. Watched the sun set.
Day 3 – Woke up early and watched the rain. Went and had breakfast on the beach. Bought boat tickets and rented surfboard. Took a scenic boat ride (sea caves, cactus & jungle covered mountains) to Majagual beach. Walked along a path to Madera beach and paddled out. Crowded surf camp break. Followed another path to a break with no one surfing and caught tons of waves. Came back and had 2 margaritas and a hamburger as a late lunch. Planned on dinner, but the power went out and we fell asleep.
Day 4 – Ate breakfast, went for long walk down the San Juan del Sur beach. Saw lots of beach erosion. Great rocks with crabs, shells, clams, hermits. Came back to Casa Oro to find out about turtles, but decided to zip-line instead. Heading to volcanoes at Ometepe tomorrow. Went body surfing and had Nicaraguan pizza. Went on zip line tour. Amazing. Giant ants, took lots of video, but for some reason it didn’t save. Da flying frog. Ate diner at El Timon and went to the Iguana Bar for drinks and dessert. Rachel got mad about the exchange rate on the bill.
Day 5 – Woke up early and set out our clothes to dry. Went to breakfast and packed our things for Ometepe. Got a cab to San Jorge, he played Bob Marley the entire time and made us pay for gas. Took the cheaper lancha (boat) to the island. Got a great lakeside villa at Hotel Finca Playa de Venicia. Had bocadillos and cervezas before laying in a hammock. Saw sleeping grass, leaf cutter ants, spiders and lizards. Going to nature preserve in a bit. Saw tons of birds and insects. Baby and mama monkeys in the trees. Weird mud nests (termites). Beautiful views of the volcano and the lake. Watched woman wash her clothes on a rock. Went for a swim, rocks are slimy with algae. Water is warm, but slightly cooler than the pacific. Ate bubblegum ice cream and brought our beers back to the room. Sat in the rocker and listened to the rain and watched the lightning off in the distance. Wanted this to last forever.
Day 6 – Lake is much calmer this morning. Took a long nap after breakfast. Went back to the nature preserve and saw monkeys, a huge moth, acacia ants, butterflies, lizards, vultures, parrots. Swam in the lake at a private beach. Found a paneolus mushroom. Ran into 4 local (possibly homeless) drunk guys who wanted to talk to Rachel in spanish. Had a late lunch and when we went back to the room the power went out. Took a nap and went for a candlelight dinner (excellent margaritas). Watched “Lie With Me” on the ipod and listened to it rain.
Day 7 – Arranged for an island tour. Our guide Rodolpho showed up around 9am in a super clean (new) Suzuki. Our first stop in Altagracia was an old church. As soon as we entered I heard a squeaking noise. As I walked up to the alter about 40 bats took off in ever direction. In the courtyard there were 2000 year old idols. Next we went to the Museo de Archeologia (small and simple) and looked at more idols and funeral pots. We made our way down a super bumpy road to the beautiful Ojo de Agua natural springs. Cold and clear and very refreshing. Next we went to Santo Domingo and had lunch. The beach had very nice sand and the water was shallow for a long way out. Finally we went to see the petroglyphs. They were like clouds, everyone said they were different things. Was it a butterfly or a woman giving birth? After Rodolpho dropped us off we went for a hike to the Devil’s Lookout. As we made our way up the steep hills we came across the monkey ducks. I stopped and looked at them and they pooped on me. Then I felt a searing sensation on my foot I looked down to notice my feet covered in ants. Devil’s lookout indeed.
Day 8 – Checked out and took a taxi back to Moyogalpa where we waited for the lancha. We had ice cold coke in a bottle at restaurant. Lancha took us Rivas where we decided to take a chicken bus to Granada despite all of the cab drivers telling us we should go with them. The drivers on Ometepe honk at anything that moves, horses, other drivers, people on bikes it is like another language. The pace of life here is so much slower. Waiting on the bus means having to say no to the constant stream of vendors who get on and off the buses. We made it into Granada and found an interesting hotel with a pool. Everything in this place was covered with tiles. Went out to dinner at a fancy “Italian” restaurant and went to bed.
Day 9 – Woke up super early to go to Mombocho, but when we went to the tour company they said the tour had already left. Went and had great smoothies and terrible coffee. Decided to take a cab up to the mountain ourselves. We got there late and had to wait for the next truck to take us up to the top. We watched Olympic ribbon dancing in spanish while we waited. The big Mercedes truck took us through a coffee plantation up to 1100m where the temperature dropped and the clouds were thick. After an orientation in spanish we hired Alec a very knowledgeable guide to take us on the challenging Puma trail. It was very wet, steep and tiring. We made our way through 4Km of cold, wet tropical montane cloud forest. We saw bromeliads, orchids, ferns, insects, bones, and burrows. Alec called ahead so when we arrived back at the lodge our lunch was waiting for us. After eating we were going to visit the fumeroles, but I took the wrong trail and decided I was tired. We took a crazy moped cab ride back to Granada. The driver charged us full price despite not taking us back to our hotel. After showering we went to Tequilla Vallarta for Mexican food. Rachel hated our hotel because the shower was only cold.
Day 10 – Went to Casa san Francisco and La Gran Francia. Rachel liked La Gran Francia so we reserved a room. Went to get smoothies (no coffee) and found out about a laundry service. Dropped off the laundry and our bags at La Gran Francia. We walked around the Parque Central and bought some pottery and jewelry. Checked in and went for a swim in the chilly hotel pool. When we went back to the room, my laundry was folded in a bundle on my bed. Unexpected, but awesome. Watched TV and enjoyed the AC before heading out to dinner at the hotel restaurant. Bats were flying and we could see the Parque Central. While we were trying to sleep a large group of Americans was talking loudly around the pool after midnight. I opened my door and told them to shut up.
Day 11 – Headed back to Managua and bought some duty free alcohol. Because we had to change flights in Miami the alcohol proved to be a bad decision. We got stuck in customs and had to check in the alcohol, but the airline wouldn’t allow us to check in new bags. So we spent the night in Miami. 2 of the bottles broke on the flight back and my bag stank of vodka and gin on the train ride home.