Published: July 24th 2012July 22nd 2012
Hello family and friends,
We finally made it into Costa Rica and set up camp in San Jose while we waited for Jess and Chris to fly in. After reuniting with J and C and catching up on all the goss from the past year, we jumped on a chicken bus and made our way up to La Fortuna, which is a town at the base of an active volcano. We spent a couple of days checking out the volcano, jungle and natural hot springs but soon realised that Costa was an expensive country and Nicaragua was the place to be! Chicken buses, bumpy dirt roads and a three hour border crossing mission took its toll but we finally made it and decided to hang out in the coastal village of San Juan Del Sur.
Nicaragua is a really poor country. Pigs, cows, dogs and goats on the roads. Horse drawn carts everywhere. Shanty houses and slums.
We got a couple of days of 3/4ft swell. I was stoked. This is the description- You throw your boards on the roof of an old army truck and then hop in the back.
The truck drives you down an old dirt/rock track and through the jungle for 15 minutes. It comes out of the jungle and onto a little bay called Playa Maderas. There are Howler monkeys in the trees above and two little shacks where you can get out of the sun. Little islands dot them selves along the coast and you surf fun little three footers to the sounds of howler monkeys roaring from the trees. The wind never got on it, and never will due to Nicaraguas geography. It has a massive internal lake that creates off shore winds all day. Pretty stoked after being out of the surf for so long!!! The girls sunbaked and drank fresh fruit smoothies on the beach while Lloydy and I surfed.
THE BULL FIGHT
Back in San Juan Del Sur the girls wanted to do some shopping, so Lloydy and I needed to entertain ourselves for the afternoon. It was a hard choice at the time, between a euro soccer final or a local bull fight that was taking place just outside of town...... of course we had to go check out the bull fight! This was a real
country affair. Hats, boots, cowboys and master horsemen. The rodeo ring had grandstands around half of it with palm frond roofs and mesh wire at the front. We paid our money (2 bucks for the premium seats) and sat down with some beers to watch the action. This is what happens - A bull is pushed through the cattle yards and into the gate, where a rider sits on top. A man wacks the bull and then they open the gate. The rider holds but usually falls off. This is where it gets weird. There are 500 locals around the ring watching but there are also about 60 local young men inside the ring (Most of whom have had some dutch courage) who try and slap the bull and then have to scale the fence before the bull gores them. This slapping seems to make the bull very very
angry. There is also around three guys with red capes. After watching 3 bulls storm around the ring we decided it would be very unaustralian
if we didn't get in there with them
A full grown male bull with 2ft of horns running straight at you is quite scary,
but when you turn to scale the fence and there are about ten guys per two meters of fence, it starts getting life and death. In the stands there were about ten gringos and about 500 locals cheering for blood. Inside the ring, Chris and I were the only gringos at the start, but then two more joined us. Lloydy and I had successfully avoided 4 bulls and were reguarding ourselves as quite good bull fighters.....enter JIMMY
. An Australian called Jimmy from Palm Beach joined us for a beverage in the ring before the last bull. He was determined to slap the angriest bull with his thongs (Flip Flops for all you other nations). In my defense, I told him not to. Chris offered a free beer to anyone who made the slap. Out into the ring the three Aussies marched, like beef eating soldiers. The bull had his back to us. Jimmy, with thongs grasped in both hands, stalks the beast. Quick as lightning he throws a wide, powerful right handed slap ( that any boxing manager would be proud of). The bull turns in a raging fury and we realise that maybe this was not such a good
With its head down and a thirst for blood, the big bull has only three aussie gringos in its sight. Paul reaches the fence first, with Chris a meter or two behind him and Jimmy another meter or so back. After many debreifs, this is what happened. Paul made it to the fence, Lloydy made it to the fence and as Jimmy made an olympic level jump at the fence (with thongs still in hand) he didn't quite make it......... but that big cheeky bull did and poor old jimmy coped it. The bull rammed him into the fence and he took a horn into the bicept, it kept gorging him and pushing him along the fence. He took another horn into the same arm but finally managed to free himself enough to climb up the fence, dripping blood everywhere. The croud loved it and a LOCO GRINGO chant started up. Jimmy didn't love it. Jimmy ended up in hospital that night. He can't surf for a month and has numerous stiches. Sore and sorry drinking a free beer. Morale of the story: Don't slap the bull.
The locals were telling
us that a bit of swell was coming in and so we decided to head north to a beach called Playa Popoyo where a sunny coast lad had just opened up a surf camp. Check it at www.magnificrockpopoyo.com
. I got some great waves (5/6ft) but the real action was out on the outer reef. The outer reef was about 400 meters past where I was surfing and some crazy guys were smashing 10 / 12 ft monsters and getting shacked!! To get from where we were staying to the break you had to swim across a river, so we couldn't get our camera across, but I will put up a picture from the net. A couple of days of surf and sun and then we were back on the back of a truck, on the road and across a lake to the two volcanoes that make the island of Ometempe
. Push bike rides and a wild storm made this a great little adventure.
A mission to the markets in Masaya was our next trip. The girls loved it. Leather bags, jewellery and all things colourful. With our backpacks full of market nicknacks we boosted it off to
the Nicaragua capital of Managua. A dangerous city. A local chicken bus took us up towards Leon but drove past it. In the process of getting off (in the middle of no where) the driver drove off with some of us out of the bus, some in and some in between. No one was hurt. We got on another random chicken bus and finally made it to Leon. It is a pretty cool part of the country as it has 10 volcanoes that run parallel to the pacific coast. One of the main attractions is volcano surfing
. This is where you speed down the side of an active volcano, while sitting on a wooden board and riding over volcanic gravel. Of course we had to do it. We hiked up to the top of the volcano, looked inside the crater, got suited up and went to the edge (Check out the pics). Some of the guys clocked 80km per hour .............(as I was writing this just then, some backpacker asked me if I spoke english and then passed me a home pregnacy test and asked if it was one line or two) Really really weird!!!!!!
Anyway, back to
the story. Lloydy and I raced down the side of this volcano. Dust and rocks were flying out from behind us as we sped down side by side. Lloydy pulled out infront and there was no catching him. Flat out and out of control we tore down the mountain until we ended up safe and sound at the 'bottom of that terrible descent'. Some of the other tourists crashed and had some bloody wounds to show for their efforts. Frances, Alana and Jess also got some high speeds and luckily no injuries!
It's late, i'm sleeping and i'm going to bed!!
There are more photos below