Geo: 11.249, -85.8633

The Pacific Princess arrived in the harbor of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua early this morning—about 7 a.m. She anchored very near the port and tenders started running as soon as the ship cleared customs. Our tour was scheduled for the afternoon, so Philip and I had a leisurely breakfast in the dining room. He did the final upload of grades before we left on the tour and checked for messages from students about their grades when we returned in the late afternoon. Everything is fine so far. He'll check again tomorrow, I imagine.

Our tour was rated E for easy by the cruise line so that means it would be very, very easy. I only walked about 1800 steps during this tour and that included getting from the tender to the bus which was a bit of a way and going through customs. A lot of the cruise ports in this part of the world have no customs to go through at all. It was easy enough here though. We had to show cruise cards today to Nicaraguan police both leaving and returning to the ship, but we also had to fill out a questionnaire a few days ago and return it to the Guest Services office on the ship before we would be allowed to get on the tender.

Once the bus for the tour was loaded, we headed first for the town of Rivas to see the church. It is one of the oldest in Central America built by the Spanish originally in 1607. It has been destroyed and rebuilt twice, the last time being in 1820. The interior is a combination of colonial and Baroque styles.

Our tour guide today, Elvis, was extraordinarily good. He spoke clearly and loudly so everyone could hear, and he had lived in the U.S. for ten years so his English is natural and accent-free. He is quite knowledgeable and had a friendly and funny style, too.

The only other scheduled stop on the tour was at the Hacienda Amayo for a drink, fresh fruit snack, and view of Lake Nicaragua and the two volcanoes that form Ometepe Island in the lake. It is lovely with palm trees and a sandy beach. There were a few activities for anyone interested: watching Juanita make corn tortillas, milking Rosita, the cow, riding a horse, relaxing in a hammock. We were not there long enough for any of those. Philip and I, as well as most people on the tour, simply enjoyed the refreshments and walked down to the lake shore for a better view of the volcanoes. One is dormant, Volcán Maderas; the other, Volcán Concepción, is active, but last erupted March 9, 2010.

After visiting the hacienda, we reloaded the bus and headed back to San Juan del Sur. At one point when we were moving down the highway, the bus stopped in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. After letting traffic behind the bus pass, it began moving in reverse on the highway. I don't know if there were backup lights or hazard lights on the bus, but cars were honking as they went around. Elvis had finished his lecturing by then and was standing in the cab area of the bus beside the driver. The passengers, me included, did not understand what was happening, and Elvis wasn't there to explain for several minutes.

After the bus pulled over as much as it could on the opposite side of the highway facing traffic and stopped, only then did Elvis come to explain. He had spotted a two-toed sloth in a tree on the side of the road. Did anyone want to get out of the bus for a better look? Stepping off the bus into traffic to cross to the other side didn't sound like a smart idea to me, and I have seen a sloth before, so Philip and I decided to stay on the bus. Only a few people, maybe eight or so of thirty, got off to look and take photos. Elvis had a hard time pointing out the sloth because they are well camouflaged so he asked to use my camera since it has a good telephoto lens. He came back with a few photos that he showed to everyone on the bus before returning the camera. Now I have a few photos, which turned out to be two sloths—a mother and a baby—without having to dash into traffic.

We made it back to the dock, went by the customs officers again, and tendered over to the ship quickly. We were in time to get cleaned up and to the dining room for our seating. Everyone was at the table tonight except Suzann. Lori speculated that she was on the late, last tender since she was on a day-long tour.

Tomorrow we stop in El Salvador and should dock at 10 a.m. We have another afternoon tour so we are expecting another hot, muggy time.

Word for the Day: Deacachimba (pronounced something like dee-ah-kah-sheem-bah with the accent on the next to last syllable). Happiness of spirit or happiness of soul. From Nahuatl, a native language of Nicaragua.

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