So now we have arrived in our penultimate Central American country. The first impression of Nicaragua is astonishing for both of us. Not only do neatly plowed and rowed fields open up to the left and right of the street, but the streets are so wonderful too. Clean. No holes. We are amazed. We haven’t seen that yet! And this good impression should continue, the nature around us is very beautiful – not different, but just wonderful again. And in our opinion, there are already differences between the various Central American countries, for example, we liked Guatemala very much straight away. But Belize or Honduras … not quite as exhilarating, at least not the first impression – although we were only very brief here. The people here in Nicaragua also seem to be working – and that shouldn’t sound too arrogant – but they just seem a little more educated than before. Not friendlier, just as friendly as in Central America, almost all of the people we have been dealing with were actually very friendly here, but … I can not describe the difference so well. It is elusive. The people here are dressed differently, a lot of them speak very good English, regardless of whether our tour guide (that’s clear), the taxi driver or people in the streets. Something is different. Even the smallest hut on the side of the road or in a village is properly prepared, the clay floor is swept and there is no rubbish lying around. Regardless of social status. Another important difference is the lack of barbed wire and guards armed to the teeth on the streets. Here the police officers only carry simple pistols. It is said to be the safest country in Central America.
But before I tell more about Nicaragua, I want to briefly summarize the absolutely gruesome journey that we had so far in 5 months of travel. A horror. A real horror. However, the first half was limited. It initially went from San Salvador Pullmanturs to Honduras. Pullmanturs is a travel agency based in the Sheraton in San Salvador, the buses are absolutely top notch, there’s nothing there. The trip went really well, over the border it’s always special, but it doesn’t matter. So apart from the fact that the journey took late into the evening – because the border crossing can drag on forever – it was still a very good experience. Honduras then – well, the streets are not that good, besides, it is the most dangerous country in Central America … mixed feelings. But we are smart and have our overnight stay in Marriott in Tegucigalpa booked, because the bus stops there! Haha! The hotel is pretty good, nice big rooms and breakfast and WiFi – that’s all you need. Some even much less. We then got something to eat in the McDoof, which was guarded by several security guards with the usual giant guns. So that was maximally safe – but strange. As so often! The really real creep came the next day. We are in a taxi Ticabus-Station driven. Some people were already waiting here and it was getting later and later and later until someone informed us that the intended bus, which had been walking around in the parking lot the whole time, was broken and we would have to wait a bit more the next. Okay, better than driving a broken bus, right? So we just waited a bit and then he came, THE BUS. Important to know in advance, we had a bus with air conditioning and toilet. An old, really old bus came, after all from the Ticabus company. Front window broken. Toilet broken. Air conditioning – available in the form of open windows, so not available. Cool. Even the locals got excited. But whatever. Can’t do anything. So we all got into the bus, passports were collected during the trip by a crew member including the departure fee. Everything went well until the bus stopped suddenly and we should all get out of there in a hurry and as quickly as possible. Nobody knew what was going on until we were outside and saw that the engine was on. Aha. Wow. Awesome. So everyone out. The Ticabus employees fetched water from somewhere and extinguished and extinguished it until the engine then exploded while we all waited on our suitcases in more than 30 ° C on the street. The sweat ran. Water for us? Nope – why too. At some point the police came, then the fire brigade, then more extinguishers and then at some point the television was there. The locals first gave them a good breath, what the shit is about and why you don’t even get water and so on. At some point someone came and said that the next bus would take us. The next bus, the next but one, the next but one and the one after and the one after and the one after that all drove by. So we were all still in the heat. In the meantime, resourceful ice cream vendors and, gradually, water and fruit sellers had also appeared. Very enterprising. At some point a bus actually stopped, everyone in, where are the passes? Nobody knew. Where was the man who had the passports? Nobody knew. At some point he just stood there. And told us that it was the wrong bus. So everyone back out of the bus and wait. At least shortly afterwards our bus came. With a huge crack in the rear tire. …. What was left for us, we photographed the tire several times – but if something had happened to us, it wouldn’t have been much use either. With the reasonable, very slow speed, we finally arrived at the border with a delay of several hours. Thank you. Then we had to wait again. We were told that it would take about 15 minutes to cross the border, then we drove on after 1 1/2 hours … maximum pissed off. But at least we met some very nice people on the way, the misery welds together. Nevertheless. Once fat: KOTZ !!! At half past nine we were in Managua / Nicaragua. You should never think that it cannot get any worse.
Every man out of the bus, it burns !!! Then the fire brigade was already there! A little later a resourceful ice cream seller, who must have done the business of his lifeThe Spanish-speaking passengers first let go of their frustration on the TV, and we wait and wait and wait … … then, that was the replacement bus
So – reacted – we come to Nicaragua. Over time, a certain amount of travel sluggishness creeps in again, what hotels book, book tours, book cars, internet research and everything that has to do with travel. That’s why we decided to book a guided tour in Nicaragua. The choice fell on the German agency Travel-To-Naturethat on site with Va Pues work together, a pretty big tour operator here. It started in Managua in Nicaragua. We had a night in Timeless Boutique Hotel quartered, very nice, with pool, of course we had nothing of that after the bus trip described anyway. But the owners were both very nice and accommodating and even made us a delicious sandwich in the evenings – because there is no restaurant nearby … The next morning we were picked up by a driver and taken to the Va Pues agency in Managua. There again briefly went through the travel plan with Maria, who is responsible for us. Very nice and that made a pretty professional impression, I think. And then we went to Léon.
Léon or Santiago de los Caballeros de Léon and Flor de Cana
Our accommodation, the Hotel Austria, is surprisingly managed by an Austrian. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see him, but instead we got to feel European cleanliness, which was very pleasant. The rooms are not trinkets, but not ugly, rather simply functional, but I think that you can feel very comfortable there. They are clean, tidy, the beds comfortable, there is internet and in 2 minutes you are at the market place, nevertheless it is very quiet in the hotel – all in all a great starting point to explore Léon. The first day in the city was free, I thought that was cool and that is a pattern that continues pleasantly on the tour here. We have enough time every day to do something on our own. Otherwise I would find it super annoying. So we went off in the afternoon and walked through the city. It has to be mentioned that it is ARSCHHEIß in Léon … really unbelievable and the air is there .. so several breaks were necessary and preprogrammed. But first we are actually at the market square in El Sesteo something to eat: sandwich and a new starter made from red beans with a kind of cheese, grilled banana, coleslaw and fried green banana chips. Strange? But awesome! Local beer (Victoria and Tona) tastes little of beer at first … but well, in the heat … and over time I also appreciate a good Victoria more and more. Quite delicious, actually. Then it went on to the cathedral over to the two other pretty churches. There is a delicious iced coffee in the Casa del Café – a Nicaraguan chain. Very good. Due to the late and abundant lunch, only a small appetizer variation was taken in the same café in the evening as in the afternoon, from there you can look out on the square so beautifully and surprisingly there is only this one place … We have another one at home Try beer that Mytos, a cellar beer without fun and that is also in old German writing on the bottle. That was pretty good!
One of the pretty churches in LéonThe good Mytos in the evening light
A culinary specialty here is Raspado, grated ice – actually grated ice cubes poured over with syrup. We didn’t try it, but there is one on every corner.
There was always something going on with this Raspado grandma
The first day of our trip was very relaxed, very nice, very hot and Léon is a nice little town. Unusually quiet for being a university city. Léon has also been the country’s capital. The atmosphere is very relaxed, we have not seen a single policeman and certainly no more creaking and were more than flabbergasted.
In the evenings in the city – peaceful If the children can romp around without supervision, then it is safe Cityscapes: Food Trucks in Léon Street art is also popular in Léon, mostly with a message How to drink juice in developing countries 🙂
The next day was a city tour according to the timetable and we also decided to visit the rum factory Flor de Cana. But first to the city tour. We were picked up at the hotel on time by a very nice young man. The tour was mostly historically oriented, I think it’s really good, because as it gradually turned out, Léon has a lot to offer historically. A lot of tragic things happened here, which we didn’t know before, since we had hardly read about the history of the city or the country.
First we went to the oldest district Barrio Sutiava (`Place of the river of the little black snails`). After this Leon Viejo (founded in 1524 by Franzisco Hernandez de Cordoba, bishopric from 1531) 1609 was completely destroyed by an eruption of the Momotombo volcano, the inhabitants moved here. The ruins of ancient Léon can still be visited and are even on the World Heritage List.
The man on the right was a very well known pastor, Antonio de Valdivieso from Léon Viejo, who worked hard for orphans. He was stabbed in 1551.
Shortly afterwards we passed a house where there were still tons of old bullet holes from the last revolution. From a petrol station that used to be opposite, the neighboring houses were shot at or doused with gasoline, set on fire and then the fleeing soldiers shot. These terrible events are embedded in the unsightly history that Nicaragua has had. To sum up very briefly, in the 1930s the Americans appointed a president in Nicaragua to support the conservative government (… the Americans were in the country for economic reasons) and founded the (brutal) National Guard. Their boss was a certain one Anastacio Somoza García, trained in the USA. A certain one then opposed the occupation of the Americans General Augusto C. Sandino (1895-1934) until the peace agreement between the Sandinos and the Americans actually came about. However, the National Guard continued to exist and killed Sandino at a peace ceremony in 1934, and Somoza, with the help of the Americans, overthrew the incumbent president, who was previously supported by the United States. It goes without saying that Somoza became the next president. His family was to maintain, torture, kill … a dictatorship in Nicaragua for decades … The years passed and the poet Rigoberto Lopez Perez from Léon successfully carried out a murder attack on this Somoza from the very beginning in 1956. The bullets fired at him only hit the legs but were poisoned … The poet was killed on the spot and Somoza died about a week later in Panama. But nothing worked, because Somoza’s sons simply continued where their father had left off. They too were trained in the United States. 1962 then formed under Carlos Fonseca the party FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front) as a counterpoint to the Somoza government. Revolts and war were the order of the day. In the years that followed, for example, four students were killed in Léon during a peaceful and approved protest in 1974 … On July 19, 1979, the Somoza regime was finally overthrown. Shortly before, the Americans had turned against him, according to the general world view, but continued to try to destabilize the country through a counter-revolution following the fall of Somoza.
Coat of arms of Nicaragua: The red particle in the middle is the Jakobiner hat, symbol of the revolution, we have e.g. also seen in Cuba
A little further down the street, opposite the San Juan Bautist de Sutavia church, today only a ruin, destroyed by bombings, the former prison stands. Today there is a very special museum that we visited, the Revolution Museum `El museo de tradiciones y leyendas`. Our tour guide told us a lot (I must have forgotten more than half of it) about the history of the city using only the exhibits here, legends, myths, what happened in the prison itself and much more. I try to summarize a part because it seems important and interesting to me.
For example, there was a cabbage field. Sometimes (under the Somozo regime) the prison guards came to the prisoners in the evening and chose one by chance, who then already knew what was blooming for him. On an elevation in front of the city, his head was cut off and left lying there, the body was burned. In the evening, the inhabitants of Leon saw the skulls glowing in the moonlight and thought they were cabbages …
Christianization of Nicaragua
There is a lot of information and history behind this picture. You don’t think at all. The point is that the Indigos used to celebrate a festival where they brought a human sacrifice. The victim’s skin was peeled off and worn by another, probably the chief. The Spaniards didn’t like it that much, hadn’t fit with Catholicism. Henceforth cows were skinned and this skin was then worn. The connection to Christianity was then established through the holy Hieronymus, who has always ironed himself. Hence the `whip` in the man’s hand.
This is the Robin Hood from Nicaragua. He took the rich and gave to the poor and it was said that he had a flat nose (El Pancho). But that wasn’t true, hehe, and so it took ages to be caught.
Another legend: the government sometimes came at night to indiscriminately capture indigenous people. They came in a horse-drawn cart and the next morning there were just a few fewer neighbors on the street … The rest of the group wondered where the friends had gone and so the legend of the funeral car that comes at night and takes someone with it gradually came up …
The cathedral: Catedral de la Asuncion de Maria de Léon. The oldest and one of the most beautiful in the country. We were allowed to climb the roof – getting the tickets was extremely difficult for me, the ‘switch’ for it is hidden somewhere in the vaulted cellar at the back of the church … it’s not for everyone. Nah, that’s an attraction! And rightly so. I was pretty excited up there. You just walk around on this white plastered roof, domes protrude everywhere that you shouldn’t step on, shoes are completely forbidden, so you walk barefoot and there is no way anyway. You can really look at the volcanoes and over the city. I would definitely not miss it. A wonderful experience and unique feeling to walk on this white roof. By the way, lies here Ruben Dario buried, the country’s national poet.
View of the market square with Gigantea (left) and cathedral in the background The cathedral, in Léon there are many lions – why? On the snow-white roof of the cathedral – unique You could only walk barefoot or with socks on the roof Again roof of the cathedral View from the roof of the Cathedral over the city and the volcanoes. The church in the background is the Iglesia El Calvario, here too there was a massacre during the Revolution. View of the church facade, the supporting men were added only years after the church was built
Next to the cathedral is a small park, more a monument in honor of the FSLN, the Liberal Sandinista Party, which has always ruled Léon and was founded by Carlos Fonzeca. The wall around the monument tells the whole story again until the party was founded.
Park next to the cathedral in honor of the FSLN In the foreground Sandino, the founder of the revolution. The wall is painted with the tragic history of the country.Sandino: The man with the hat is omnipresent
The statue of La Gigantea around, an 11-meter-high doll that is supposed to represent a tall Spanish woman who cannot dance. With the doll, the Leonesians were able to set a world record and kidnap the Spanish occupiers. The little clever man with a big skull next to it is a small clever Nicaraguan, who of course can move totally cool!
La Gigantea, the largest is on the market square, which is photographed here in the museum
Then it went in the afternoon Flor de Cana. The tour of the huge area lasted two hours, we were allowed to taste rum twice (18 years and 7 years old) – even with 5 senses. It was funny. I mean the senses taste, smell and use is clear. Hearing is just fun – to toast. But I found groping to be unique, we put a drop in our hands and rubbed in and since nothing stuck, it was proven that there was no sugar in the rum. It is removed by 5-fold distillation. The rum is delicious, but the tour … well, we saw a movie like that, I’ve rarely heard anyone brushing their belly as much as there … not so great. Our driver later confirmed our suspicions. So sugar cane is grown almost everywhere in the whole area, a huge catchment area and NATURALLY is cut down to what it takes – and not just afforested, as the film wants to make you believe. Things like that, for example. Nagut… But otherwise quite interesting, the large warehouses, full of alcohol-pregnant air. You can work in them for a maximum of one hour before you are completely sealed. Hehe. But I think that the leadership could be made a little more interesting and credible … my opinion.
The Flor de Cana label is everything
Cultural Immersion Trip – Something very special
Oops – now I almost forgot to tell you the best thing about the trip to Flor de Cana. Our driver, Rydder, great guy. On the way back, when we checked that he speaks English (we slept on the way there), we talked to him for a long time and he is currently building up such a unique and great travel agency in Nicaragua that it must be mentioned here . He offers excursions for ordinary tourists, who not only do volcanoboarding, but also go to the locals in a village to really get to know them and their way of life, or work for foreign doctors in a local hospital or house building campaigns for missionaries, but they do involve local people. All in all, his program is in the form of `help for self-help` and he was so enthusiastic and has such great ideas! I’ll link his future here Homepage and Facebook link (not yet finished, but already very informative, status 02/2016), would be great if you share that, because I think the idea is really great and poor countries like Nicaragua could benefit greatly from it.
Slightly blurred, but you can see the most important thing.
In conclusion, I think that Léon is a nice little town where you can spend a good two to three days. The historic city tour was very interesting, especially since Léon played an important role in the country’s history. What you shouldn’t miss is in fact, even if it is definitely one of the tour highlights, to climb the cathedral. This is really impressive! Léon is very relaxed and relaxing.
Masaya volcano, artisan market in Masaya, Granada, Las isletas
The next of our four destinations was Granada. We were picked up again very punctually by a driver and at first it was time to Masaya volcano. Here is Nicaragua’s oldest national park (1979) and a small museum that is really cute and explains the flora and fauna that can be experienced on the volcano. Among other things, there is said to be a parrot species that builds caves in the volcanic crater and is therefore apparently quite well adapted to the sulfur fumes. Funny. In addition, the national flower grows here Sacuanjoche tree and with a little luck you can also see the national bird Motmot see. Masaya consists of two volcanoes, the Santiago is the active one, the Nindiri crater doesn’t do much anymore and San Pedro, which is now overgrown with a lot of forest and can actually be climbed there – but our guide thought that would be too dangerous at the moment … so nothing there. In the national park, several older lava fields stand out, a landscape that is only filled with dark brown rock. But through some cracks, nature is pushing back into the light. The Indian called Masaya or the Santiago crater `Popogatepe`, which means` Burning mountain`, at that time the volcano erupted so often that there were supposedly human sacrifices. The Spaniards then gave it the name `La Boca del Infierno` (Hell’s Maw) and put up a cross at the highest point to ward off the devil, La Cruz de Bobadilla. The Santiago crater is just so active that you can no longer even go to the viewpoint at this cross. But you can see the crater very well from the parking lot and – wow – well, that’s really blatant. Yellow vapors rise down there, the throat begins to scratch when you breathe in, everything is full of sulphurous smoke and in the depths you can actually hear it boiling … here on the edge of this rugged, rocky crater you can feel the violence and power of nature . Very impressive. On the back side there are bat caves to which you can also hike.
La Cruz de Bobadilla View of the bubbling Santiago crater, both together, cross and infernal gorge
The second stop was Artisan market in Masaya, a city with just over 100,000 inhabitants near Granada. The market is very popular with tourists, but when we were there there was not a lot going on. That’s a good thing. It is said that you can buy very well handmade things here, such as blankets, leather goods, pottery, colorful wooden things, jewelry and much more. We then walked there for about an hour, rummaged around, but found the things compared to what you can buy everywhere in Guatemala, not so nice, much less well made, faded … After a few searches we still have a few little things and found a nice blanket, so it was worth it. For the two excursions we got a guide from Va Pues, but we agreed that it could have been saved. His idea was something of uninspired and uninspiring … we could have done it better on our own. I am also not entirely sure whether one could not have climbed up to the one volcano, that would have interested me … and just been left standing in front of the market in Masaya … well, I think there would be at least a little more about the market, the city, the handmade goods or the people who sell here … hm … a little annoying.
Then it went on Granada, the city on Lake Nicaragua, one of the largest lakes in the world (No. 19). Our Hotel Alhambra is right on the market square and looks pretty cool. Old, colonial, great tiles and old furniture and we were greeted with the words: `Ah, Va Pues, go with this guy, he has the key.` I thought it was very cute at first, until it occurred to me at some point that the Example breakfast times or the like are not uninteresting. Well, first of all after the guy, past a really nice atrium with fountains and plants and outgoing rooms, which obviously did not house ours. We continued past the second courtyard with a small pool, also cute. But we went on, around the corner, it was getting darker, we weren’t there yet either, we went around the corner again, even darker, up a small staircase and then there was the last room of the hotel with a view the street on the ground floor. It was nicely arranged, but sometimes you can’t help but feel as if you had got the storage room … Internet (unfortunately quite important to plan the rest of the trip) stopped at our door … Great. On request we were given a much nicer room on the second floor, without car noise, with internet … only the shower … yes the shower, let’s put it that way, you could be happy when a jet of cold water comes out of it, calcified shower head and not only the rest of the bathroom was wet after the shower …
And then we went on a trip through Granada. Granada is slightly larger than Léon and – like Léon – was founded by Cordoba in 1524. Granada also has some pretty churches to offer, as well as that Fortaleza de la Polvora, which played an important role in the civil war in the 1850s.
Fortaleza de la Polvora
On the Iglesia La Merced we climbed up and let ourselves be drawn by the handwritten advertising slogans that promise the best view of Granada. And we were not disappointed. The view from up there over the city full of trees and hills is really unique, the churches of the city are lined up like the pearls of a chain and the Cathedral in front of Lake Nicaragua glows yellow … beautiful. In the background the Mombacho volcano. We were up there for a long time and just looked and waited for the sunset. It’s really worth it!
Iglesia la MercedIglesia la Merced 2Looking at the infinite number of inner courtyardsLooking at the cathedral in front of Lake NicaraguaView of the cityBeautiful as the hills loom against the setting sun … Cheers
Then there is a very pretty blue and white church that Iglesia Capilla Maria Auxiladorathat we happened to happen.
Iglesia Capilla Maria Auxiladora
And across from Espressionista, there is still an incredibly cool and cozy bar and café, which we have chosen very quickly to become our regular bar Iglesia de nostra Senora de la Asuncion Xalteva with a cool little park in front of it Parque Xalteva. We were in the Expressionista every day and from iced coffee, espresso, beer, various cakes to one of the best sandwiches we have ever eaten, everything is delicious. Bit more expensive too, but it doesn’t matter – I should find it there urgently! The sandwiches are prepared by the way with a local (!) Spicy-soft, fatty and absorbent Camembert, as well as a smoked and cooked ham produced in the area and pull the water out of the salivary glands. They are so good!
Magic lights in the Espressionista Happy Birthday !!! Beer on the 33rd birthday – legga! The SandwichIglesia de nostra Senora de la Asuncion Xalteva and ParqueArtistic picture of Platzl with church horse on street, many animals look very emaciated
We also passed the former hospital, today a morbid but beautiful ruin, unfortunately completely covered with corrugated iron.
What is left, old hospital
The marketplace, the Central Park, in front of our hotel is beautiful, planted with hundreds of trees, so that in the evening – like in Livingston in Guatemala – there is a bird concert that you can no longer understand your own word. Just be careful not to be under the trees at this time. Who knows how well the thousand birds can aim … The main inner city street or party mile starts right from the market square, which is full of restaurants and pubs – we just walked through here. And next door you can find a smaller square with a few shops, colonial style houses and bars, where we discovered the Casa de los tres Mundos (international cultural center and city archive). We are curious as we went in and took a look around, there was a small photo exhibition and rooms for making music and in the back ateliers and workshops where you can see and buy paintings and works of art – we did that. We invest in art! Muha – old? Maybe, but cool! By the way, after some internet research, we found out that this institution was founded by Dietmar Schönherr, an Austrian actor who was passionate about social and cultural projects in Nicaragua throughout his life. Otherwise we had a delicious dinner at El Camello on Andrés birthday, that was very, very good! And once in Chilitos Restaurant and Cigar Bar, it went like this … but only had guacamole and salsa, so it is nice to sit and watch.
Casa de los Tres MundosDietmar Schönherr as a mosaicview of the cathedral from the adjacent square, again the cathedral in Granada, this time in black and white
We liked Granada very much, nice to stroll around and drink coffees and enjoy the view and discover things. The location on Lake Nicaragua and under the Mombacho volcano is also really inviting! What I don’t quite see through is the fact that Nicaragua is really very neat. The people are very nice, they are well educated, many are very hard working, the houses or huts are all clean … only where it is 100% tourist it is dirty … what makes sense? I just remember that because we went on a boat tour through the Isletas. This is an archipelago of around 300 small islets, some of which are inhabited, some of which are for sale, and there is even a cemetery island! They were created by the last eruption of the Mombacho. Driving through it is really nice, there is so much nature to watch – you could really become a bird watcher here … we also saw monkeys, vultures, eagles, crazy colorful birds and those who build their nests like sacks in trees, herons … really nice. We left (of course) at a small harbor near Granada on the (mind you) largest lake in the country and you should think that you can make something out of it, that you can attract tourists, build hotels, shops and restaurants or put down a promenade. But apart from the fact that there is nothing here, it is ugly. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish … Too bad.
Let’s go in one of the colorful boats, there are many water lilies here, beautiful, even the little birds stand on the water lilies and just walk over them, these are crazy bird nests
Isla de Ometepe
Before we got to our next destination, we had to switch to pulling through … I didn’t succeed at all. I’m slowly getting annoyed by the extreme relaxation of the people here – well, I’m just punctual and German at heart, I guess. You should actually cut off a slice of the relaxed nature. To explain: Our next destination was the Isla de Ometepe. This island is located in the middle of Lake Nicaragua and consists essentially of two volcanoes (Ometepe means two hills), the Concepcion (I would say that is the prototype volcano, as one has always imagined a volcano; last eruption in 2010 and one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua, altitude: 1610 meters above sea level, the ascent and descent takes 10-12 hours and at the top there is only blazing sun) and the Maderas (1294 meters above sea level, a bit smaller and overgrown with jungle, that’s why the climb fairly damp, but less sunny). A tree grows on the Maderas that ONLY can be found here: Ardisia Ometepensis (fun fact). 30,000 people live on Isla de Ometepe, so the island is really quite large. To get there you need a boat, of course, by car from Granada to San Jorge, where the ferry leaves. We were picked up at 7.30 a.m – get up at 6 a.m. … around 9 a.m. we were there to find out that the ferry was not running. Mhm. Not since yesterday. Mhm. How so Because a week ago (!) A boat capsized near the Corn Islands (Nicaragua) and there were several deaths. Mhm. It was actually a bit windy today, although I think you shouldn’t forget that Lake Nicaragua is a lake and not a sea and that our boat is a ferry and not a small boat … What the hell … A conference should take place at 12 o’clock, which should then have the solution ready … mhm … so wait at least three hours. Cool. We sat with our fellow prisoners, a very, very nice elderly couple from near Stockholm in El Navegante, a beach bar … beers, colas, water, fries … sometime it was eleven … sometime someone told us that the boat would be leaving at 2 p.m. … so … checked the clock, a good 12 o’clock … another 2 hours … it was said that if the boat was there, there should first be an inspection … ok, so wait a little longer … then someone said that the inspection was nonsense … good, yes it was at two and actually a ferry came … hmmm … half past two … the gates weren’t open yet … tickets weren’t sold … quarter to three: AH! The gates are opening! Oh! Hundreds of people flock to the ferry at once! Aaah! No, we mustn’t add it yet, first of all, the tickets have to be bought … hm, sure, I see … yes, we were on board at half past three, life jackets were out, there were already too many passengers on board, not to forget the trucks, which stood in front of an unclosed loading ramp, in between louder smoking passengers … I was just about to burst, I thought today someone really has to believe it. By the time we got to the hotel, the sun had set and we struck seven hours late. Dirt.
Wait, wait, wait … by far not all of those who were there … The swell that was not – in the background the Isla de Ometepe with its two volcanoes, seven hours later, we took off, that’s the order on board … Vulcano Concepcion Zoomed in with his cloud cap He was allowed to jump into the water with a rope to secure our ship
More pleasant areas: Hotel La Omaja, you have to say a darling. That was our accommodation, the room, or our room (standard double) was very functional, clean, but we had a mini terrace with a view of the lake and the volcano Concepcion. Hot. Immediately after arrival we went to the hotel’s open-air restaurant, there were already a lot of people sitting there, everyone was staring at us when we were up there – I threw a courageous Hola around, which was echoed by everyone. Funny. Everyone was thrilled and flabbergasted that somebody still came today because of the ferry – nobody could get down from the island, so everyone knew. Some were flown out with mini planes … brrrr … We had a nice chat, there were a few German girls there for a change, the rest of the USA and GB, very nice and the first beer after this moderate day was really tasty and ice cold. The food was great! This was also confirmed in the next few days, great food, great breakfast, delicious cocktails and smoothies, very good staff, lots of young locals (! They all speak English, some of them taught themselves and how great: you were born on Ometepe , grew up, might have been gone for a while, but they’ll all come back! That would be something for the German villages, wouldn’t it? Bread is baked here and the eggs come from the area, great. We chilled our only whole day on the island in the hotel, lounged by the infinity pool, read, just relaxed … wonderful! You can watch the sunset from the restaurant terrace or from every room, beautiful, there are also many bluejays to admire (huge blue birds with hoods on their heads) and eagles and you can hear a monkey screaming. The lake is also so vast that you actually feel like you are at the sea …
A beautiful sunset photographed from the terrace of the hotel over Lake Nicaragua, view of the Concepcion in the light of the setting sun, beautiful, the flowers, the perfectly shaped volcano … the light Well, because it was so beautiful, again! Ok … but that’s the last one Picture ..Süüüüüüüüüüüüüß !!!
Our last booked excursion in Nicaragua was a kayak tour on the Rio Istiam, that is the connection between the two parts of Lake Nicaragua across the island. This year, however, the winter was so short (only two months of rain, instead of six) that the river is hardly filled and the water level of the lake is three meters lower than usual. The tour took 4 hours, first we went to the river mouth the lake, very exhausting as it was quite windy – yes the wind came from the front. To get into the river, the boats were pulled a short distance on foot through the rest of the water and then we went through the mangrove forest … departed. That was great. The river was still 1-1.5 meters wide at times – ugh, danger of spiders! Still great how close you get to the plants this time, see the beautiful flowers, the mangroves. There are also caimans here, but they don’t do anything, we haven’t seen any. There were a lot of turtles there that stretched their little necks up to sunbathe! Also a mini turtle – soooo cute !!! Herons in white and blue and colorful and small and large are wading next to us and have eaten a fish. An osprey was sitting in a tree top just above our heads. And in the end even a herd of cows arrived, hehe, that was watered there. It was a great experience and paddling is also really fun – the next day I could feel my neck and forearms badly and had had nervous twitching of my right hand from the paddle since evening … but it was worth it. Really cool! And the guide who drove with us was really nice too! There’s nothing there! And he was from the island too, once worked and studied in Managua, but that was too dangerous for him, then he returned to the island five years later and does that now … I think it’s great!
A loofah sponge, the fruit of a tree that grows here … coooool
laguna de apoyo
Last section of our Nicaragua trip: The Laguna de Apoyo. Of course, also a tourist destination and a nature reserve with many different birds and fish (43qkm), we take a tour this time and where else do you go to the most famous attractions in the country if you don’t have sooo much time. However, tourism in the Laguna de Apoyo is very limited, for example with regard to building rights to protect nature. The Laguna is a crater lake (175 meters deep) that was created about 23,000 years ago. It has very, very warm and very clear water. As you can easily see, on the many footbridges and steps that end here in the dry, the water level has dropped sharply in recent years: 10 meters in 30 years. The lake is still beautiful. And with its many high waves, it looks like the sea.
This time, the ferry from Isla de Ometepe was only an hour late – at least better than seven. Of course, I was still sitting on the coal in the car, because our driver was on time at the hotel, but we didn’t know it and so we left half an hour late … of course we didn’t know that the boat was too late either … then the nice Swedes met again, a funny reunion! They were really nice!
Wait again … this time with far fewer people …
Around noon we arrived at Monkey Hut, our hotel / hostel on the Laguna. Woohoooo! This is really cool! We have the Iguana double room, also functional, but so beautiful that it is perfect. Everything made of wood, bamboo cladding on the walls, white bed linen, a huge wooden balcony with two deck chairs and a hammock and a view of the laguna. This is pure relaxation. Great! The Monkey Hut is also a hostel, but has only a smaller, clean dormitory and you can take day trips here to splash around. Splashing is great here, the water is warm. So warm! Even if you have already been dried by the warm sun on one of the wooden platforms floating in the water, it is not cold at all to have to go back into the water. The pizza comes from the wood oven and is (although a little expensive) very tasty. The beer is cheap. And so we spent our 1 1/2 days here sunbathing on the wooden islets, paddling along the banks, relaxing reading on the balcony, after-work beers with M & Ms … so really great. This is a wonderful place, the lake is surrounded by jungle. At dawn, when the animal world wakes up, it gets very loud again. The howler monkeys scream their throats hoarse, the little birds sprout, the crickets chirp and the waves splash ashore. Wonderful. Then a little later you can watch the sunrise behind the trees or watch a squirrel during the day as it moves through the branches. Lazy days. Perfect lazy days …
View from our balcony of the Laguna de Apoyo – a dream words cannot describe it …
So how do we find a tour group trip? Difficult. For the moment it was just right because everything is served to you on the silver platter and you don’t have to plan anything anymore. Overall, we prefer to book and organize everything ourselves … you know which hotel you are sleeping in and why and what you want to see and what not. The organization via Va Pues and Travel-To-Nature went smoothly (as far as it was in their power) and the drivers were always very nice. I don’t know if I would do it again.
After almost 6 months on the road … that’s my jeans over there, I’ve gained something …