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Published: March 17th 2007
Buenos Dias Mi Familia y Amigos,
When we last left you we were preparing to cross the border from Costa Rica into Nicaragua. After the hours of waiting on the Costa Rica side all went well. We boarded a small riverboat filled with locals heading up the Rio Frio. We crossed over the border on the river and checked in with immigration in the next town of San Carlos, Nicaragua.
Nicaragua is by far a much poorer country, one of the poorest in the Americas which is clearly evident in the countries infrastructure let alone the homes and businesses but it is a bonus for us as our money will go much further here than Costa Rica. The Nicaraguan people have been fantastic very pleasant and friendly although very little English is spoken which makes a few things quite difficult, lots of pointing and frantically looking up words in our Spanish phrase books.
From San Carlos we quickly boarded another boat which fits 3 people wide and about 25 deep. So 75 people on this little boat with heaps of bags, boxes and who knows what else. Our packs ended up on the roof. Anyways we took a
beautiful 3 hour ride down the Rio San Juan stopping at everyone´s farm along the way to drop of people, gear or stuff more on the boat. Just after watching the sunset from the boat we stopped and unloaded at El Castillo. We checked into a beautiful old wooden hotel overlooking the small town and the river. El Castillo is the site of a old Spanish fortress built to impede pirates from heading up the river to invade Granada. We cleaned up and wandered the town a bit before sitting down to eat the local delicacy of river shrimp. These shrimp the size of lobsters were a little freaky at at first but were very tasty. We woke before the sunrise the next morning to explore the town and fortress. The fortress was gated and locked so we decided to storm the castle. After jumping the fence Angela and I rushed to the outer wall on the northern side. The alarm was sounded by an excited rooster but we were unseen. We patrolled the perimeter of the fortress snapping off numerous shots from our cameras before scaling the front stairs and and taking a peak inside. We then quietly slipped
out the way we came in, mission accomplished. Got some nice sunrise pics before breakfast and then back on the boat at 7am. Another great ride up the river this time much less crowded back to San Carlos on the southern shores of Lago de Nicaragua.
Once in San Carlos we purchased our first class tix on the ferry to Isla de Ometepe. We killed a few hours in the dirty port town before our long ferry voyage. The journey which would take about 10 hours was not all that comfortable but we made the best of it and saw a great sunset go down over the lake. Arrived on Isla de Ometepe at about 12:30am. Loaded on a shuttle with a few other tourists for the short drive into the nearest town of Altragracia. Found a nice hotel despite being the middle of the night and crashed out.
Isla de Ometepe is an island in the middle of the massive Lago de Nicaragua which was formed by two large volcanic cones side by each and joined by a level, low lying isthmus. Slept and relaxed most of the next day and a quick tour of the small
town. Was caught up in the excitement of a protest march as a large group of people from town were peacefully protesting the arrival of a corrupt political family in their town whose house was across the street from our hotel. The targetted family was none to happy and sent their son out with a stick. Damn those annoying socialists and their protests. The next day we arranged a local guide to take us up Volcan Conception. We left first thing in the morning and hiked a couple hours up the cone until we got to the cloud level about half way up. Great views despite a fairly cloudy day. Loaded up and headed across the island to the short ferry ride to the mainland and the west coast. Taxied on some incredibly rough roads with a madman driver to the beach town of San Juan del Sur. Here we have arranged a week of one on one Spanish clasess and a homestay with a local family.
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