Published: October 24th 2011October 24th 2011
Headed off from the Carribean coast onwards to San Jose and as expected it was very rainy as there is alot of rain here at the moment due to some storms in Mexico and the pacific coast in general is a washout. San Jose itself was not very impressive and the rain did not help. The capital cities in general in Central America get very little good press and the three days I spent there it rained for the 72 hours so I am added to the list of people unimpressed by the capital. Even more annoying was that my hostel had a pool but nobody was in it as it was cold and miserable!!
So onwards and upwards to cross the border to Nicuragua on an overnight bus. The border as always was highly entertaining. Checking out as usual no problem stamp the passport and get out, getting into nicuragua was the usual paper work, immigration, Customs and bag search. This time however we pulled up at this area that for all the world was like a cattle mart. We had to haul our bags out of the bus and put them on this massive table about 50 meters
long and the customs start at the top of the table and go through each bag one by one. The locals have about 20 bags each including bin liners and old duffle bags each searched meticulously - presumably looking for drugs but im really not sure. Me with my meager backpack the guy arrives as I unzip my bag he just nods and says "Vamose"- I guess being pale skinned and blond has its advantages. Either that or my innocent face looking up at him. So after all that didnt even have to open my bag but still spent 1 1/2 hours watch them root through everybody elses bag.
We are now in the land of Cordobas instead of Colones and as usual there are hundreds of guys with wads of cash looking to change your money for you and believe it or not they have the best rates around cause competition is so high. This and the border itself is a market of local produce and handicrafts all waiting to be sold. I bought some biscuits from a local lady from the basket on top of her head and they were really terrible!!
Off we head into
Nicuragua and arrive in Granada my destination though the bus is going all the way to Managua. Met Teresa a nice canadian girl on the bus so we found a hostel and headed out to see the city for the afternoon. Its a really pretty colonial city with plenty to do here. The arcitecture is pretty cool and everything except churches is one story and brightly coloured.
Spent a day down at lake nicuragua at the verge of the town but the weather wasnt good enough to visit ometepe island which holds 2 volcanos but after all the rain there were mudslides and roadblocks so played it safe and visited the nearby Masaya volcano on the mainland and what a treat. We started off at some local markets before heading for a sunset tour of the volcano. It is still active and last errupted in 2001 and the sulpher coming out was pretty toxic, couldnt stay up there too long. From there we hiked to the top of some old volcanos now dormant to see the craters with a fab view of the city aswell. On the way back we stopped at some Bat caves which were pretty amazing
and scary, as soon as you flash the camera you see just how many there are flying at you and all you hear is them woosh past your head.
In Granada I also visited a local chocolate museum which shows you how the chocolate is made and they make alot of chocolate here and it is sent all over the world. Ireland is 9th in the world of choclate consumers!! pretty impressive for our size I thought. Niamh and Jean definately help keep that statistic true ;-) The other visit I made was to a cigar making factory (factory is a bit generous but there were about 10 working there making 400 cigars a day so it is a factory) I smoked my first cigar (a little of one) and also got to make my own cigar to take home and it was all free. They use 3 types of tobacco in leaf in the centre for smell and flavor and a different smoother leaf for the outside. It gets pressed for 20 minutes where it shrinks to about 2/3 of its size and then the outer leaf goes on and is glued with vegetable glue before wrapping in
plastic for sale.
Leaving Nicuagra now and have decided to skip honduras due to weather, safety and not alot to do there. Have a mammoth trip ahead so ill be in touch
There are more photos below