Nicaragua is hot!


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Published: May 20th 2017
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It’s been a while, so expect some reading ….. ;-) or just browse through some pics. We’ve now migrated our blog to travelblog.org as you apparently have found out, so if you want to follow you can do so by clicking on 'Subscribe' or ‘Follow' at www.mytb.org/JudithMerijn

After two beautiful weeks at the Corn Islands the local ferry trip to Bluefields was an easy ride, followed by a fast boat for a few hours over the super flat Rio Escondido to El Rama. We spent a night at El Rama and got ourselves onto a so called chicken bus to the capital Managua and there another one to Granada. Granada is beautiful, with a lot of colourful colonial buildings and cathedrals in very good condition. Although parts of town are a bit touristy, most of the town feels like an open air museum which we explore on foot peeking into the homes and patios of the local people sitting in rocking chairs waiting for the heat to pass. We enjoy a few buckets of Frost beer at the somewhat touristy bar street and join the locals at the main plaza for some kind of a festival with local people, food and music from different regions. Mainly they seem to celebrate 'Nicaragua: la alegría de vivir en paz!’ which I guess is the slogan of both the current president as the tourist office. The Nicas have been through horrific times and most families have lost members in the civil war / revolution so it feels genuine to ‘celebrate peace’ the more we get to know the country and the Nicas. The rainy season has started, with one or two showers a day, mostly at night, not really inconvenient yet but sometimes we are forced to stay indoors so we get to taste the local rum Flor de Caña quite well and we love it! We spend a day at the shore of Lago Apoyo, a beautiful crater lake with nice water to swim in. There is a great backpackers hangout where we meet some nice people and have some Western food (first time in months actually, the food has been really good until so far). In one day we travel by taxi, chicken bus, another taxi, ferry and another chicken bus to arrive at Playa Santo Domingo at Isla Ometepe. Ometepe is an island consisting of two huge volcanos in Lago Nicaragua which is the largest lake in Central America. Ometepe has a special feel, it is an island but not too far away from mainland, it has very rural communities and extremely friendly people. Only a few villages are spread around the island and around the volcanoes connected by a road that halfway turns into a rocky and slippery dirt track. We sip beers at the veranda of our beach cabin overlooking the black sand beach and the huge lake that due to its size looks more like a sea. Ometepe commands us to be explored so we rent mountain bikes to explore the island which turns into a difficult and sweaty bicycle ride. We go out in a kayak over the lake and on the small river and spot a lot of sweet water turtles and birds. We rent a motorcycle to get even further off the beaten track and on the dirt bike we climb as far up as we can to get to a huge and beautiful waterfall. With a tuktuk, the ferry, a chicken bus, a microbus and a peditricycle we travel from Ometepe via Managua to Leon. Leon is the second largest city in Nicaragua, it is an important student city, and it feels less organised for tourists than Granada. We embrace this town with the many local commodores (eateries), the student filled plaza offering an interesting view through its colonial buildings with crumbling facades alternated with nicely restored colonial architecture. Leon has played an important role in the revolution and this shows in the local museum and the murals in the streets. We walk around snapping pics of the many cathedrals, the people and murals before sitting down to try to cool down a bit by drinking our local favourite beer. Close to Leon is the town with the cutest name of Chichigalpa and this is where the huge distilling plant of Flor de Caña is. Although before this trip we preferred to drink wine, beer, gin based drinks or sometimes a whisky, now we have started to appreciate the beautiful pride of Nicaragua. Flor de Caña is apparently the country's #1 exported brand with more than 125 years of family tradition. At the distillery we visited, they have a very professional tour, museum and we got to taste their 18 year old super premium rum. Leon is surrounded by volcanoes. It’s called the ring of fire and consists of 21 volcanoes of which some are very active and some are completely dormant. We have just spent two days hiking and climbing a volcano called Telica. Although the last real eruption was in 2015 spewing fiery rocks, ash and gases, at the moment Telica is quite calm. We were able to climb to the brim, after walking for hours, carrying 15 kgs of food, water and camping stuff, starting at the bubbling mud pits at the base, through fields and forests, with a killing 35 minutes stretch where we both had to stop and catch breath after each three minutes of climbing. The top of the volcano was in the clouds when we arrived and the crater was full of a huge cloud of sulfur, so we couldn't see the flow of lava down in the crater. The crater is huge and the view was spectacular. We spent the night camping close to the crater and walked up again in the morning for a beautiful sunrise but again the cloud of sulfur the prevented us to see the lava. We did this trip with 6 other hikers, some of them half our age ..., some of them travelling around Central-America just to climb volcanoes. We have proven our physical fitness but we have to admit we are not trained for these kind of activities so today we are giving our legs a well needed rest :-) We will spend this weekend in Leon and after that we are travelling up to the northern highlands of Nicaragua. We did have some heavy rainfall yesterday evening though and we need to see if travelling the highlands is any fun in the rainy season.


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