A Travellerspoint blog

Isla De Ometepe

Nicuragua, Lago De Nicuragua

overcast 28 °C

In Granada we stayed in a Hostel called La Libertada which had free internet and breakfast. Since we only had a small distance to go, we slept late and ate our free breakfast lazily in some handmade furniture that had animals carved into all the armrests. I had Nacatamal, which is a Tamale specific to Nicuragua, apparently hard to find as another traveller informed us. I was thoroughly impressed with them and I will try to find more tamales in future countries. After breakfast we headed to Rivas, the largest town closest to the lake. We took a taxi ride to San Jorge, the town in which the Ferry to Moyogalpa on Isla De Ometepe leaves from and found that the ferry was leaving within 20 minutes. We hoped aboard and bought ourselves a snack which consisted of an over fried piece of chicken and a bag of plantain chips..yes we live a life of kings people. The ferry took us approximately an hour for which I was out on deck, while the other two.. as per usual on any piece of transportation, slept. I believe I was made fun of for my hat, but it didn't bother me too much, since I mostly cannot understand spanish when I don't have any previous idea of what the conversation should be about. (ie, if I start a conversation about bus scheduals, i know the person wont be telling me about the weather... or at least I should very well hope not, since making a bus and not, as we've discovered recently in Monteverde, can be a disapointing experience.) I did get that they were saying they knew of Canada, I was less than impressed, we are the second largest country in the world. I was unfase though, as I watched the majestic island grow nearer. The larger of the two volcanoes, rising 1610 metres above sea level, was spuing sulfur into the air around the mouth of the crater and just begged for us to climb it. We found the cheapest hostel in town and then made it cheaper by sleeping in the hammoks! It cost about 1.30 US per person! Cheapest lodging yet! Staying in one of the private rooms was a couple, one form holland, one from Britian, who told us about a great guide that spoke excellent english and did tours daily for the standard price of 10 dollars. Hanging around the hostel was this Canadian who ownednd operated a sports bar and resturant just down the street. He gave us so tips about guides and said he would find the one that the couple spoke of for us. A first time experience was had at the bar that night after dinner, we sat ourselves down infront of a high definition projector and wached Layer Cake, a movie that we had wanted to watch back home! We even had ourselves some popcorn to top it all off! We awoke the next morning before the comming of dawn, at around four. Grogily, we strapped on our hiking boots and left the hostel grounds before there was any light at all. The guide met us at the street corner in a van which would drive 45 minutes tot he base of the volcano. By the time we were on the trail it was just begining to get grey out, a sure sign the sun was stillcomming up and had not forgotten to rise. (Which by this time, we were wondering, since we'd been up an hour before sunrise.. and thats simply a strange feeling!) The first few kilometers were done in silence, since none of us was awake enough to think, let alone comment on our surroundings. We stopped under this massive tree (well what I thought was massive, but apparently half of it was covered under sand and volcanic rock from the last volcanic erruption) and had our first words, along with plenty of water. Once we began to acend, the "cloud forest" as it were began to close in around us and we got our first glimpses of Howler monkies. The guide pointed out local flowers and plant which the indigenous used for a variety of things from a sleeping aid, to getting children to talk at the right age. The day presented itself and boy were the volcano gods angry that we were trespassing. The day was completely overcast, and thus, we would not be able to climb to the crater. The climb became more than a 45 degree incline and the going got tough, but the three amigos kept on trucking! The 1000 meter mark (approximatley) is where we made it too, and boy was it hella cool! The wind was so strong you had to pout your full weigh into it just to stand upright, and the clouds were whippoing by us...yes you've got it.. we were in the clouds that were moving at a rediculous pace. There was absolute nothingness where once, people told us there was a view. The decent, just as awe inspiring as the acent, was also just as exerting, since there was no walking.. the entire decent consisted of running.. yup, we ran down this twisting and turning, sandy and root crossed path, for a good hour. The entire time our guide was giggling like a school girl, and the laugh was infectous because within the first few minutes all of us were laughing, for no good reason, save for the pure fun of it. So lets make sure you have a good image of this in your head; here are four, grown men (I know, parents, not one of you likes to admit it, but we are no longer children, and no we will never fit back from whence we came) absolutly, full out, running down these jungle crowded pathways, creating dust trails that left you coughing and sputtering if you got too close to the person in fron of you and the entire time... laughing. The monkies were undoubtedly scared for their lives, three gringos and a local yelling some kind of war chant and running like madmen. The rest of the day was spent in the hammocks catching up on some missed sleep and chilling after such a strenuous activity so early in the morning. That night we went to Yogi's (The Canadian Bar) to use the internet and have some "flavourful food." Bed came early, and we slept like logs, only to be awoken by the intermittent drop of water from the holes in the cabaña. Our plan was to go to the other side of the island to visit the other town, but the rain brought us all down, so we slept in and finally, we decided that we would do a small hike into a park, about half hour away. We took a bus around 12:00 and headed to a point of protected land. At first, the rain became heavier and we were all wondering what the hell made us get out of our hammocks at all. Eventually the sun poked out from behind the dense cloud cover and we actually began to get hot! Good thing the hike was all along the shore, so we just picked the best beach and jumped in! It was actually strange to be swimming in fresh water again, since the majority of the water we are swimming in is SALTY! We continued our hike and headed back toward the main road for lunch. We came across this little restaurant with prices that suited our budget perfectly and sat ourselves down to enjoy the quaint ambiance of the place. I ordered a potato salad, Leigh had pesto, and Craig had fish soup. Our meals were absolutely the best lunches we have had so far. First off, there was an entire fish in Craig's soup, Leigh's pesto was was apparently flavorful, and my potato salad was gy-normous with eggs and many vegetables. Coupled with he price, this made the meal, without question, the best lunch! We headed back to the road and we were struck with the idea that we should hitch hike back, since we had to wait at least an hour and a half for the next bus. We picked up a truck within a half an hour and got in with a couple other travelers and two locals. We made it back to two before the bus would have even been picking us up! It was great to stand in the back of a truck and have the wind whipping past, trying desperately to understand the Spanish that was being thrown our way. Plus, it was free! Our last night on Isla De Ometepe was a short a sleep as the first since we had to get up for the first ferry of the day to make it into Costa Rica! All in all great time in a beautiful place.

Happy trails everyone,

Ryan

Posted by Nomad18 18:42 Archived in Nicaragua Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Leon

The city that stole my hat.

sunny 27 °C

So, here I am, writing about the first place we stayed in Nicaragua, while I'm in Panama, so forgive me if some details are foggy.

We arrive in Leon at around dusk. The bus stopped way outside of town, and if a local on the bus hadn't told us that this was, in fact, Leon, we wouldn't have gotten off.

When we unloaded ourselves and our bags, we ran into Dave. Dave is an English guy who was basically in the same shoes as us. He jsut got off the bus, and had no idea where he was, and only spoke a little bit of Spanish. It was quite funny, he asked where something was to a lady in Spanish, and she said something, and we thought he understood, cause we sure didn't, and we asked him what she said, and he answered something like "Well, I'll be f*cked if I know". With Dave´s compass, and our guidebook, we slowly made our way to the hostels. On the way, I had a disaster.. I took off my hat, cause it was dark by this point, and then tucked it under my pack-strap, but a few minutes later, it had disappeared! I backtracked, but found no trace of it.

Everyone waited for me, and tehn we found the hostels around the corner. We chose the one called Bigfoot Hostel, which is where we went Volcano Boarding from.

We met a few fellow travellers that night, and deservingly went to bed after a long day of travel.

The next day, we decided we would explore this town called Leon. We went out with plans to see the Cathedral (which is the biggest in Central America) and the museum of local lore and myth. We hit the cathedral first, cause its giant, and really easy to find. We quickly figured out no doors were open, and it was closed for lunch (kinda strange, but whatever). Then we went searching for the musuem, which had proven hard to find. After going way past it, we came back and found it. It, too, was closed for lunch. We waited around till 2ish and it opened up. It was pretty cool, and it was in this old jail that was only recently shut down. We headed back to the cathedral, which was kinda open at this point. They were cleaning it now, so we were only allowed on the roof of the building for an hour or so, which, as you would imagine was pretty cool. After that, we got to wander around in the cavernous cathedral. My favourite part was the Lion statue guarding Ruben Dario (Nicaragua´s famous poet) tomb. After exploring for a few minutes, we headed back to the hostel.

That night, lets see. We (and basically the rest of the hostel) headed to a bar, to watch this local woman sing. It was real good. When we got there it was really crowded, and the power was off, but soon the power was restored and she started. She started with an english song, One, by U2. Then she play a bunch of spanish songs. Things start to get hazy here (we are at a bar, you know). But I remember she played another english song, a Cranberries cover I believe. It was good, everyone enjoyed it. Then she was done playing and we wandered back to the hostel.

Eventually we went to bed.

The next morning, we got up good and late, and started preparing to go Volcano boarding. Thats when we discovered something terrible. We were missing about 4500 cordobas. Thats about $250 US, plus we lost a $20 US bill. It wasn't cool, but it was only money, no passports or other documents.. we were lucky. Apparently the lockbox got ripped right off the wall, and they got into the back of it. The hostel let us stay a night for free, and the guy locked our stuff away in his private safe.

Volcano boarding was awesome, but you already know all about it.

That night, well we were tired, so we hit the sack.

The night morning we got up at a leisurely rate. Leigh and I played some chess. I finally won a game against him! We had breakfast at the hostel (it was cheap and good and convenient). Ryan wanted to go do something, but I wanted to chill for a day, and Leigh wasn't feeling tip top, so Ryan went to something or other with other people from the hostel, and Leigh and I chilled. It was a relaxed day, and Leigh and I sent some letters.

Eventually Ryan got back, we had lunch, then eventually dinner, then attempted to finish the rum we bought two nights previous. It was a fun night for me, I played pool with a guy from Greece, then for a while with a local kid. I played some guitar, and a Canadian traveller asked me to play "Wheat Kings" by the Tragically Hip, probably the most Canadian song I know, it was great. I then proceeded to smoke her at backgammon. Then we went and saw a band play at the bar/hostel next door. The most memorable song was their Spanish version of Elton John's Pianoman.

The next day, we got up at a relaxed time (not really early, like usual) and left Leon for Granada.

I must say, I lost my hat and some money there, but I really liked this city. It has been my favourite.

Bye for now, maybe I'll catch up some more eventually.

Peace,

Craig

Posted by iamcraig88 12:34 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (2)

Ometepe, Granada, tilaran

Nicagua/costa rica

semi-overcast 28 °C

We left at about 11:00 am toward granada, it was about a 2 hours to get to manague and another 45 minutes to get to granada. Granada was a really nice city of about 83000 people. it was a bit more touristy because it was such a colonial town, but it was really beautiful. it was amazing to see the contrast between the colonial beauty and the impoverashed part of town just a 10 minute walk from where we were staying. i think we managed to stay a litte ahead of the crowd who were there for the semana sente(holy week/easter week). so we were able to find some cheap dorm beds in town with free internet and free breakfast. The computers had linux on them so it was really exciting for me and craig. we got the internet for an hour and a half then we went out and had some really good pizza, i know i know, we are adventurous, but we were really hungry and pizza was the first thing in the guide book that caught our eye. the french girls who were staying there spent from the time we had dinner till about 12:30 that night, they were being hogs. we left fairly late at around 11:00am and we took a bus to rivas and then a ferry to ometempe. we stayed at a hostel called hospidajae central. there werent any dorm rooms but some hammocks just opened up the night before, so we ended up staying there for 23cords which is the equivilency of 1.20usd a night. so while we were there we climbed a volcano, but we were only able to go up to 1000m metres because it was too windy and it was too cloudy. from that point it felt like we were on top of a windy, foggy hill, it was kinda lame, but we got to see a barrel full of monkeys so that was alright, and it was really humid and hot so i got more sweaty then i ever have been in my life, i was borowing one of craigs shirts for the hike and afterward he looked at it and said i can keep it. we went to the beach the next day and it was raining so it wasnt as fun but we got to swim in a really big freshwater lake.

the next day we left left ometepe at 5:30 in the morning and made our way to costa rica, we spend the most time at the coasta rica boarder then we did at any other boarder. we spent about 4 hours at the boarder, we bearly made it to tilaran and it was just getting dark. we slept at hotel tileran, we werent able to get a room with 3 beds so we got a room with 2 beds and a room with one bed insted. it was the first time we actually had a different room for the first time on this trip. the next morning we waited with our stuff on the side of the road on the way to monteverde, we burned waiting for a truck to pick us up, at about 1pm we went to the bus station only to find that there arent any buses running until sat at 5am. that meant that we were stuck there for 3 nights in total. it was bad because we werent able to go on the zipline tour but we did get a bit of downtime before we go all bus crazy for the days after. actually its not only going to be busses its going to be boats. busses to boats to busses to buses to boats......and so forth. its going to be crazy rushed until we get to panama city and we wait for the boat to columbia. so tomorrow we leave on our crazy bus ride. in two weeks we should be in columbia if everything goes to plan.

Posted by leighner 17:03 Archived in Costa Rica Tagged backpacking Comments (5)

Volcano Boarding

Thats right, you read right.. volcano boarding

Hello fans,

So, as the name implies, we went volcano boarding today. What is volcano boarding? You may ask. Basically, you climb up this rocky black volcano (live, active volcano, incase you were wondering (it was smoking)). Then, once at the top, we hiked around to the sandy side, got a brief explaination of how to do it, then plunged down the side on this piece of plywood with a rope, and metal on the bottom. It was great, but I can still taste the dirt. Lemme go into more detail.

We had a 45 minute drive out to the base of the volcano. Ryan and two others got to ride in the cab, but me, leigh, and the rest were all in the back of a pickup truck. It was nice though, there were seats, and it had a nice breeze, since we were moving so fast. We quickly had the volcano in sight, it was a dark, sinister looking thing. After paying the entrance fee we started the rocky hike up the back side of the volcano. The walk was not straight up the side of the volcano, thankfully, instead, it was across it to where the bottom of the top ridge is, then followed the ridge to the top. This is where the heat drops right off, because the cool breeze from the Atlantic (as the guide explained) picked up here. After that, we followed the top of the ridge around to the main volcano crater. He )the guide) gave us three options: 1. stay at the top, and just look
2. go about 20 metres in, to get a closer look, or 3. go down the full 120 metres into it. Of course, you can guess what we did, started the long decent to the bottom of the crater. The guide gave us one rule, and it was ¨when I say run, you gotta run¨. So, we quickly understood why.. the ground was hot, and once you got going.. the rock was all loose.. you couldn´t stop. So there I was flying down this loose rock in the volcano crater, and leigh was behind me, and I heard him bearing in on me.. very quick. And, just from the sound of his big stomping feet coming towards me, I knew he wasn´t in control. Then I heard a scraping noise, which was him slipping on the rock.. then lots of cheering from the people at the bottom. He slipped.. hardcore.. then he bled. He´s gonna have some nice battle scars. The bottom of the crater was prety cool.. then we started the climb up the side of the crater, to the top ridge again. Ugh, that was hell, it was all loose, and really far up. Once back at the top, we headed to the front slope, its the nice sandy slope (the one that is relatively safe to board down). It was there that we got the volcano boarding lesson. We were told, basically (in a few more words than this) that the safest way to control the board, was to relax, and not try to control the board at all. So, after our lesson on not doing anything, was a practice run to learn to brake. Then, after everyone got to try braking, we put on our overalls, our huge safety goggles, and our singular glove. The guide and two others went first, and of course, I was one of the other 2, cause I was excited to throw myself down a mountain. So, down I went, but unfortunately the guide flew way past me, cause I was imbalanced on the board, so I didn´t move as fast. At my max speed (it was shaking a bit) I wiped out.. BLACK SAND EVERYWHERE. I´m still getting it out of my ears, eyes, and hair. I finished my run, and grabbed the camera, to take pictures. After we all got down, we hiked back to the truck, and headed back to town (in the moonlight by this point).

All in all, lots of fun.

Peace everyone,

Craig

Posted by iamcraig88 18:06 Comments (10)

Utila and Leon

Honduras/Nicaragua

sunny 30 °C

we left for utila early in the morning and we took buses for many hours. there was much rushing and being shoved on to buses. we finally made it to la ceiba and we were quickly rushed onto a taxi. it had to rush like mad to try and get the ferry to Utila island. we made it to the ferry by the skin of our noses, it was actually in the midst of leaving. i wasnt feeling well before i went on the boat and the ferry didnt make it any better, after an hour we finally made it to our destination, none to soon i was a bit sea sick. i was also sick in another way, i will spare you the details but it wasnt pretty.

we were swamped by people with flyers and such want us to go to their dive schools, parties and other scuba diving things. we were hoping to go snorkling. we met this fella who directed us to a place that would give us cheaper accomidations if we got our scuba certification there. we still didnt expect to learn how to scuba dive. we checked the school out and while we were there we met a girl from austrailia named Lisa and she was also trying to find a place to stay, and learn advanced scuba diving. most of the rooms that we have seen had four beds, so we asked if she wanted to bunk with us to save some money. she wanted to check out one other place on the island other than the one that we were at. so we left our bags at the dive school and left to find the other place. eventually we found a place called Cross Creek dive centre. It looked really promising so we looked into it further. they had everything we wanted cheap scuba school rates a kitchen cheap accomidations and two free fun dives. one of the people who worked there offered us free accomidations while we are taking the course, that just sealed the deal. so we went back across town to get our stuff. when the 4 of us got back we were met by gore (our dive instructor) who offered us a better room because there were 4 of us and we chose them over the other people. The room that they spoke of was amazing, it had a private bathroom, hot and cold running water, a fridge and the best part.....A/C. We were all really excited about this room usually it cost 18USD a night but we got it for free. the lessons were among the cheapest in the world in Utila but it still set us back 240USD each Ryan used his spare $2000 that he has stashed away in his other account to pay for all of us. we started doing class a bit later then we were supposed to, and we had to rush to get it all done i ate my pancake that i had made in the class while we watched the videos. there first day was a bit boring, wet suits are surprisingly comfortable. i took to scuba diving really well. it was a really amazing experience to be able to breathe underwater. Diving is one of the greatest and most amazing things ive ever done. every day i did diving i liked it more and more. its like being weightless, and being a giant floating jungle world. i would recommend it to everyone, i think its one of those things you have to experience before you die. getting to know the equipment was surprisingly easy as well. we have a total of 6 dives under our belt now as well as our international dive certificate. we left on monday and set off for nicaragua, we took about 7 hours of buses to get to Tegas, Honduras and we stayed there overnight in a pretty clean place, most of the hotels have tvs in every room, we´ve watched more tv in honduras then we have the whole trip.
while we were in utila we had been living on just two meal days because our dives always started at 12 and didnt end till 4 so we never really ate luch, as well as for our two travel days to get to nicaragua. when we got to the boarder it was crazy, there were people hanging on the ladders on the microbus with their heads in the windows trying to get something, whether it was if we wanted a ride to the boarder, to get our money exchanged or just plain asking for money, i was afraid they were going to take our bags. we eventually got our passport stamped and got across the board, we think we got screwed a bit on the money exchange, but what can you do? after another two buses and a total of 7 and a half hours on buses we made it to Leon, we had quite a walk and it was getting close to dark, we met a fella named dave who went with us to try and find the hostel called via via. he had a compass so that helped a lot to try in orient ourselves, after a lot of walking through town we made it to via via, but we found out there was another hostel right across the road we we were told it was better by the people who were staying via via, so we stayed at the bigfoot insted, it was a really cool place. it was a dorm style hostel, it had a kitchen, clean sheets, a pool table, a bar, and tv, it was pretty swanky. the next day we went to the museum of mythology and torture...i know it sounds like a weird combination, as well as that, we visited central americas largest cathedral it was pretty amazing. later on that night we went to the bar and got to see some live music, they played one english song, "one"-U2. the whole hostel went to see her, there were a good 25 people staying at the hostel, when we got there the power was out so we had to wait a bit before we got to hear anything. the rest of the night was a blur but it was definately a good night. today we are going to climb a volcano and slide down it on a piece of plywood, it going to be really cool, i cant wait.

this blog was written over several days sporatically so if its a bit hard to understand bear with me.

missin home,

leigh.

Posted by leighner 15:17 Archived in Honduras Tagged ecotourism Comments (2)

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