Cruising Central America

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Central America Caribbean » Nicaragua
December 6th 2018
Published: December 6th 2018
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Sunday morning we awoke to sea and sky as we cruised towards Costa Rica. It was a full day at sea which we spent enjoying the ship. We have got to know some of the other guests and certainly staff. Our favourite bar in the Atrium, known as The Living Room, is manned by a mixture of nationalities including Indonesian, Phillipino, Chinese and Peruvian. Eddie is the “star” here, enjoying customers applause as he performs his “tricks” like catching blocks of ice in a glass behind his back and floating coasters to us from the back of his hand. He is always smiling and seems to know all the guests’ names. We usually have breakfast and lunch in the World Café on Deck 7 and then go to either the Restaurant or one of the two specialty restaurants for dinner.

We spent the day mostly in our cabin, me writing my last blog and Fletcher doing what he does at home, working on his stats on his laptop. At 12 we went to the quiz, where we performed respectably butand we were equal third. Then for variety we read and took a walk up to the Sports Deck, but it

Small train on the dock in Puntarenas
was very windy. Tonight there was a Commonwealth Reception in the Wintergarden. This was very pleasant with about 150 guests from the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We were served drinks and canapes and mingled with some friendly Canadians. The Hotel Manager welcomed us as did the Tour Director. Then it was down to the Restaurant for a tasty dinner.

On Monday morning we found we were already docked in Puntarenas Costa Rica when we awoke, Our included tour was not leaving until 12 so we decided to look around the port. About 10am we left the ship and walked to the dockside area. It was a very warm day and we strolled along the foreshore checking out the market stalls full of souvenirs with the locals anxious for our custom. The town itself looked fairly run down without much archtitecture of any note. This is the main port and it was here that oxcarts used to bring the coffee beans from the mountains down to be shipped overseas. After about twenty minutes of walking we realised there was not a lot to see so we headed back, stopping to buy some colourful beach towels along the way.

Back on board we prepared for our excursion and met in the theatre at 12pm for our bus trip. This took us inland, up into the mountains to a small town called Esparza. Our tour guide, Minor, gave us a short history of Costa Rica on the way and explained how along the central mountain range were many volcanoes, some of which are still active. Once we reached the town, we were greeted by a very pretty, central square and our first visit was to the large church which dominated one side. In the central square a stage had been erected and we were shown to plastic chairs to watch some local children in colourful costumes perform for us. I, of course, had to make a spectacle of myself by moving from one chair to another, only to have it slip sideways and me land on my backside much to the oohs and ahs from the surrounding crowd. Embarrasment !!

Once the real show got under way, we watched the boys and girls dance to traditional songs and then ask members of the crowd to join them. It was entertaining and the children were

Church in Esparza
very cute! Then we had a short time to look at the handicraft stalls selling locally made products.before setting off back to the ship. The return journey seemed to take forever, and Minor talked the whole way but the excursion had given us a real feel for Costa Rica, which he said was becoming the best educated of all the Central American countries.

We sailed about 4pm to head to our next stop in Nicaragua. That night, after pre dinner drinks in the Atrium, we had a booking at Manfredi’s. We had met an American couple, Bob and Sue, at the bar who were also going there so we ate together. I had a most delicious gnocchi as an entrée.The food overall is excellent there and they were excellent company, both ex teachers who have the same opinion of Trump that we do. We haven’t found any Trump supporters on this trip so far!

On Tuesday morning we arrived in Corinto, Nicaragua about 11am and were ready to leave for our four and a half hour excursion to Leon. We watched the ship dock from our balcony even spotting a turtle swimming between the ship and the dock. Here was a musical welcome with colourful dancers and a band playing on shore. We piled on to the buses and then had an hour’s drive inland to the old capital in colonial times, Leon. Our guide was Gustavo and for the second time we were told that their coffee was the best in Central America. We drove past coffee plantations and small towns and finally reached the main city of the area. Here we parked next to the main square which was again dominated by the Cathedral dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. They were having a festival in her honour and around the square and in many of the side streets were altars, lavishly decorated by different groups and departments in the city, all dedicated to Mary.When we arrived there were also some dancers carrying tall figures twirling to folk music. There was also a very tall figure of a colourfully dressed woman in traditional costume. Very vibrant. Gustavo showed us a memorial to the Sandinistas, who fought against the dictatorship of Somoand were part of the civil war which raged here in the eighties. He later told us that his father fought with them.

Then it was into the cathedral where a funeral was about to commence but we were able to see the simple beauty of the architecture and the very large stations of the cross painted on the walls. There was also a statue dating from the 16th century as well as the grave of Nicaragua’s most famous poet, Ruben Dario.From there we were given free time which we used to visit the market stalls and bought some local pottery. The buildings around the square and down the nearby side street were in good condition and attractive colonial style. We stopped for a local beer, Victoria, in a café on the square and then it was back to the buses for the long drive back to the ship. We had missed out on lunch so headed to the Atrium bar for a snack. We returned to the Atrium after dinner at about 8-15pm and caught the end of Anastasia’s concert. She was brilliant, playing the Piano Man in a number of styles, a la Mozart, Chopin etc. She ended on a high note playing a frenetic Hall of the Mountain King. The crowd went wild!! We congratulated her afterwards and had a photo with her. She is very talented

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