Our favorite picture Jeff took from the top of the Cathedral in Leon.
Our last two weeks have been quite different than our time spent at Surfing Turtle. We left there with great memories, suntans, lots of bug bites, and advertising flyers in hand, to distribute for the owner as we continue south back to Leon, and then to Granada. We have definitely had a lot more activity traveling on our own! After making it back to our same Hostel we stayed at the week before in Leon, we decided to partake in one of the more popular “tours” the next day...volcano boarding! Our tour guide picked us up promptly at 8 a.m. in an old white jeep, and we set off to attack the Cerro Negro Volcano. The other couple in the Jeep also happened to be American from Tampa, FL, and they were excited to exchange travel stories/tips with us during our hour drive to volcano. It was quite the bumpy ride, for the “road” to the base of the Cerro Negro is more or less a trail between yucca farms filled with pedestrian locals, bicycling locals, and many horse/ox pulled carts to pass. I think Jeff had to have hit his head on the top of the Jeep at least twice
Almost to the top... we stopped to take pictures in one of the craters.
due to the rough terrain. Once we finally made it to the base, the tour guide handed us our boards, which were no more than a rather small plank of wood with a ridge built on for your bum to sit, and another for your feet to rest on, and then an old rope tied to the top so you can “steer.” We then started the climb. The base was very rocky, and we were all very out of breath before we got halfway up. Next the landscape started to get steeper, rockier, and we began to really notice how the wind had picked up. Now by “picked up” I mean it felt like a gale that was increasing in speed the higher we climbed! It actually reached a point where our guide had to stop us to sit for a minute, and showed us how to carry our boards so they wouldn’t catch the wind. First, being so afraid of heights, I thought I was going to blow off the side of the volcano which was very scary, but then he showed us where we would board down, and I realized I was a goner for sure. Not the
Made it to the Summit!
As you can see, it was SO windy we could barely stand up straight!
case though! We trekked around at the top for a while and took some amazing pictures of the landscape, and were able to relax after our climb. After we put on helmets, knee and elbow pads, then safety goggles, we were ready to board (closer to sled actually.) Jeff went first, I then followed, and we both lived to tell the tale! It was actually really fun, and you didn’t go as fast as you would think. After everyone made it down, our tour guide even gave us all a complimentary juice that was left in the hot Jeep for the last 2 hours…we decided it was the thought that counted!
After Leon, we boarded another very crowded micro bus for Granada. I even had the luxury of not sitting in an actual seat, but rather facing the opposite way behind the front passenger seat, where Jeff’s feet were supposed to go. Not the most enjoyable bus ride I have ever had, but I’m sure I will experience worse! We then had to switch buses in Managua, and really bus stations are the most hectic part of a travel day. The bus crews will just shout destinations and point
to different buses until you mention where you are headed. Then they just pick up our bags, take off walking, and tell us to follow. Sometimes it takes all of our concentration just to keep track of our packs! Not to mention you are also solicited by over aggressive taxi drivers, local food vendors, and usually a beggar or two. We finally made it to a bus to our final destination, and we both had a seat facing the correct way with proper leg room. I immediately liked Granada after I stepped off the bus. It has a feel of a Spanish European city, and is very clean with nice wide sidewalks, and of course more beautiful cathedrals. I unfortunately then had my first run in with travelers’ sickness. Luckily we had a nice private room for me to recover in. Jeff took such good care of me! Once again, the first aid kit saved the day, for I started taking my antibiotic and Tylenol for the fever, and in two days I was almost good as new. Just in time for Super Bowl Sunday!
Our hostel was actually located on a cobble stone street that is pedestrian only,
lined with lots of restaurants, bars, and shopping. We chose to watch the game at Margarita’s across the street, with another American couple staying at our same hostel. We had a great time, and it was an awesome game to watch! Margarita’s happened to be owned by another American, and he had invited all of his gringo friends to watch the game there too. He had a projection screen on one of the walls, and we got there early enough to get great seats. Our friends ordered wings and cheese dip, while Jeff and I shared a HUGE plate of nachos. It was just like being back home! So many of the bars here were advertising the Super Bowl, and it really surprised me how much Nicaraguans are interested in American culture. I suppose the money to be made on tourists who wanted to watch it is appealing too…
After a successful Super Bowl Sunday, we decided to rent bicycles to see the rest of the city before we left for a Lagoon about 15 minutes outside of Granada the following day. Our beach cruisers were the perfect mode of transport for seeing the remaining sights, and a welcome
change from walking. I must say I am not the best bike rider, but I managed to do just fine. Jeff was (of course) awesome on his bike, and we both got a work out in riding around, seeing sights, and taking pictures. That night we decided to splurge and get ourselves a nice dinner at a restaurant overlooking the central park. We had a great ceviche as an appetizer, and shared a steak with a “Nicaraguan Cheese Sauce.” It was actually pretty good, and we had been warned that the beef here would never be cooked like we are accustomed to having. A great end to a great day!
Next stop was a day in Laguna de Apoyo, which is a fresh water lagoon inside a volcanic crater. It is supposed to be the cleanest natural water in Nicaragua, and also rumored to have mineral healing properties. During our stay at the Monkey Hut Hostel, we floated on inner tubes, got some sun, and also relaxed in some of their comfortable loungers and hammocks. That night we met of group of travelers from San Juan Del Sur, which will be one of our last stops in Nicaragua, and
we had a big BBQ for dinner. They were a great group of people who all met at a hostel, and decided to stay in SJDL for a while until their travels took them elsewhere. Like us, they were doing a one day trip to the lagoon, and again it was fun to exchange travel stories and tips, like what hostels we should look into staying at. The BBQ was lots of fun; we had a big piece of beef, mashed potatoes and a homemade salsa. The conversation and camaraderie of making a meal together was so fun, that we even forgave the New Zealand gentleman who severely overcooked the meat. The night was ended by a late night jump in the lagoon and sitting in the loungers talking and looking at the 99% full moon. I knew the actual percent because the full moon is a big deal around here, and lots of websites of hostels even have full moon trackers/calendars. Overall the Lagoon was a huge success! It was a great time with new friends, and we plan on probably seeing them again in San Juan Del Sur which is our next step after Isla Ometepe. Which is
where our journey continues…
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