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Published: November 9th 2011
5th Nov ’11 Roatan to Leon, Nicaragua
4.45am pitch black and the dreaded road with all its holes, lake size puddles, trenches and other obstacles to negotiate with the rucksacks. There was no way the bus could get down so we knew we would have to walk it. The bloody bus was late so we had this mental dash to get to the airport for our flight. We made it with not a lot of time to spare and soon headed out to our 18 seater plane – this is definitely the smallest plane I have been on, the curtain separating the pilot from the rest of us is open so we had a great view of take off!! We landed again after 30 minutes (still not sure why) and then had to change planes for the next 30 minute journey to Tegulcigalpa. We then got on a minibus with 2 hitch hikers joining And after 3 ½ hours got to the Nicaraguan border where we all had to crowd round the window to get stamped out of Honduras. Again the moneychanger men were all ready and waiting for us. We then drove a short way down the road and the
tour guide took all the passports into customs and that was it, we were in! Shame they didn’t give us a Nicaraguan stamp in our passports though. So now we are in Nicaragua the land of lakes and volcanoes! Woo hoo.
We have arrived in Leon and just Howard and I are staying in the Via Via hotel, the others are in the hostel over the road and not best pleased! Some cock up with the rooms led to this, oh well our place is really nice! However it is no beer tonight, in fact no alcohol until Monday as Nicaragua is now officially ‘dry’ until the elections are over, a few very unhappy bunnies around I can tell you, doesn’t bother me though as they have diet coke and you can smoke everywhere!!!
Howard went out for a wander while I had a cold shower, when he got back we sat with the geriatric group while waiting for everyone to turn up at our hotel for dinner, he then told them all about the food stalls he found down in the main square and they then decided to eat there instead. We dipped out as I didn’t
Museum of the Revolution
want to stagger around in the dark with my dodgy ankle. I was rather surprised that Howard hadn’t wanted to go there to eat as it’s the kind of thing we like, however once the others left he told me there had only been 1 stall and he only said it as he couldn’t face another group meal and reckoned they would all want to go to it!! Ha ha it worked – we had a lovely peaceful meal!
The countryside in Nicaragua is really stunning, vast volcanos everywhere you look and really green valleys, I think this is the most attractive of all the central American countries we have been through and we have only just arrived!
6th Nov ‘11
Most of the youngsters have gone volcano boarding, which I would have loved to have given a try but the thought of hurtling down the side of a volcano at top speed (highest speed recorded was 89mph – by an Israeli girl who didn’t speak English or Spanish and couldn’t understand the instructions!) using your feet as brakes doesn’t seem the best plan at the moment! We had planned to go and visit the ruins of the
Museum of the Revolution
original city of Leon, it is about 20 miles away and was abandoned after a huge earthquake, volcanic activity and various hurricanes so I was expecting something out of The Omega Man or that scene in Planet of the Apes when we they find New York!!! However it was not to be as every taxi we tried wanted $70 to go there or $30 one way and then god knows how we would get back so reluctantly we had to abandon the idea. We are also leaving Leon at 3.30pm so no way could we risk not getting back in time. So instead we are going to visit the Revolution Museum and have a general wander around.
We have just checked the reviews for the next hotel in Granada – its 26 out of 28 and apparently the rooms are infested with bed bugs and cockroaches!!!! OMG I think we may have to move!!!!
We had a great time in the Museum of the Revolution, it was more of a tribute to the people who fought in the revolution and the walls were covered with newspaper clippings and photos. It was really moving and brought a lump to my throat.
Museum of the Revolution
We were shown round by a guy who was 50 now and had been a Sandinista (fought against the dictator Samosa) when he was 17! The most vivid impression I got was that of how young the fighters were. He even showed us the photo of him in action carrying his rifle. We felt really honoured to have met him, his thumb was stained with ink which is the method used to show who has voted already and told us he voted for Ortega as he was a good man who had made much progress in Nicaragua. This is at odd with what the guide told us, that Ortega had changed the constitution in order to be able to be re-elected for a 3rd term and that most of the country wanted him gone. I’m going with the man who actually risked his life to remove a dictator.
After we had looked around the displays (including the photos of the dead bodies) he then said come with me and led us up through the old building and out onto the sloping tin roof! He reckoned it was perfectly safe and gave us great views over the town and to the
volcanos. From the roof you got the same view out across the park to the cathedral as I had seen in one of the photos when it was filled with protestors some hanging off the cathedral balconies and a huge tank and soldiers sat in amongst them all – very stirring stuff. We shook hands and off we went feeling very fired up with it all, especially as today is the voting day.
When we met up with the others they had all just got back from volcano boarding and we were pleased to hear that the brits had got the top 3 places, Emma being no.1! She reckoned it was only because she had been that scared they made her go first so she just shut her eyes and went for it!
We then got the minibus to Granada and on the way Ronnie made a detour so Howard would get a chance to see the old ruins after all – which was really good of her, but unfortunately due to the elections they had shut early!!! So we got to see all the really poor villages on the way and the smoking volcano but no ruins.
into the hotel – I use the term very loosely and then feeling like POW’s were shown to our sweat box for the next 2 nights, Howard gave the mattresses a good once over and we saw no sign of bed bugs so that was something. Our room actually had an air conditioning unit – the good news, however it was an extra $21 US!!!! Per night to use it – the bad news, so we had to make do with the fan. Everyone was in the same position the ‘window’ was internal and there was no breeze, it really was slow torture!
Not much sleep was had this night partly due to the heat/sweat, partly as our room was right next to the lounge type area and partly due to the fact the wall at the back of our room was on the street and all night long truckloads of people were driving past blasting out music, throwing firecrackers and yelling at the tops of their voices!
7th Nov ‘11
We decided to do the ‘no rush’ tour of the highlights of the area so 7 of us set off with the local guide Ramon who spoke excellent English.
It was a really good day, we went up to the active volcano which you could actually drive up to the crater(ah smell that sulphur), then did a small hike to peer into the inactive crater of the next volcano. We then visited some little market for 30 minutes – just long enough, then off to this fantastic mirador – view point, where the views were indeed stunning down to the crater lake and with the huge lake Nicaragua in the back ground. We spent a while there having lunch and just soaking it all in. Next after a stop to have a group photo in amongst some gigantic statues outside a shop we went through the little pottery villages. We then had the obligatory stop to have a pottery making demonstration, Howard refused to do this and stayed outside to watch the local kids playing baseball (until someone hit and good one and the ball got lost!) and football.
We were then headed off to the lake for a boat trip but Ramon put in an extra unplanned stop – ‘the cherry on the sundae’, at Granada’s cemetery – it was amazing, the statues, mausoleums and tombs were incredible,
Howard reckons it was better than London and Paris
We then got to the lake and it was dusk by now but we sped along through the myriad of small islands, most of which were privately owned by the very wealthy Nicaraguans, with lovely houses on them and one even has its own heli pad, a couple were up for sale one for $450,000 US. We stopped by monkey island, a tiny little island so named as 4 monkeys live on it, they were really funny as soon as they heard the boat they all appeared and started posing for photos!
We then visited the island with the fort on it that was built by the Spanish to protect Granada from pirates! By now the sun had set so after a great day we made our way back to the sweat boxes.
So today we found out that Daniel Ortega had won the election and the town certainly had more people out and about, the alcohol was back on and the pavement cafes were full!
We passed on the dinner at the wine bar and opted to wander up to the park by the cathedral as it was full of
people. It all seemed quite festive, a strange stilt person, people laughing, flags being waved, everyone had their Ortega t shirts on and then gradually more police started arriving, I began to feel uneasy and when a truck pulled up full of armed police I decided it was time to move!
We went back to the pavement cafes and found a table at one full of locals. There was a disco inside and it was great for people watching, locals all bumping and grinding, European girls with the local lads trying to do the same and then people of all ages having a go!
The food and drink was cheap and good, young lads kept coming round selling cigarettes and sweets, then 6 lads stopped in the road, set up their boom box and started break dancing! They looked like something from Nicaragua’s got Talent. Everyone was clapping, it was great! Our waiter was George Clooney’s double and kept bringing us beer – what a great night. Howard was trying to figure out how to get an election t shirt but never managed it in the end.
When we got back to the sweat box, some of the aussies’ were
playing cards and invited us to join in so we did and learnt 2 new games – Murder and Presidents & Assholes! They had Offspring on the i-pod and we stayed up until 1.30am, we reckoned there was no chance of sleep again so we might as well have some fun!
8th Nov ‘11
Up and out early for a look round Granada before we left, we found a church with a tower you could climb (tiny spiral staircase) and got some great views and photos up with the bells at the top!
Then we all set off to the port to catch the ‘chicken boat’ to the island of Ometepe. It really was a chicken boat too!, the bags were thrown up onto the roof then the gang plank was put up to the roof and a few motor bikes were wheeled on. Then everyone scrambled on to try and find seats, then the boxes of chicks were passed in, the locals and their shopping, you name it and on it went!
I knew it was a 1 hour trip so had taken a travel sickness tablet but what I hadn’t counted on was the fact it was REALLY
choppy and soon me and a few others from the group had turned green! The waves were lashing over and coming in directly on Howard but the crew soon put up a ‘curtain’ so we didn’t get too soaked, I just put my head down and tried to sleep. Boy was I glad when we were back on dry land!!
Tomorrow night we are having a barbecue and a P party, oh dear, you have to come as something beginning with the letter P, Howard is not happy. We are going as the Poms, Howard in his boro top (hooligan) me with my trousers rolled up and a knotted hanky on my head!
9th Nov ‘11
Horse riding this morning, now who said that would be fun………………………..
Six of us set off just after 8am for a 3 hour ride up to the volcano base and back again. The horses were all jostling for position and mine just wanted to barge every other horse out of his way. It wasn’t too bad until we started going up a really steep rocky pathway which had me worried but hanging on, then it opened out and my horse decided it was going
to go in the shade under some trees. Well I was ducked down as low as possible and then suddenly my glasses were being wrenched off in one direction, my hat in another, I was half throttled and my body was going in another direction ie down! Shannon tried to help me and nearly fell off too but it was no good and I ended up on the deck minus a shoe and with an aching shoulder and arm. I wasn’t getting back on I can tell you until the guy leading us said it would take the horses another hour to get back so god knows how long on foot. Terry said have a fag and you’ll feel better and Howard shouted out eee I don’t know she’ll do anything for a fag! Cheeky bugger!! Anyway I did and reluctantly got back on (that is what you are supposed to do after all) and just prayed we would get back without anything else happening. All the time im thinking I don’t think zip lining may be quite such a good idea after all. Honestly I am a bloody liability. Well we got back without any other incidents, Howard even
had a bit of a gallop on his horse but all I can say is ‘and people call this fun?!!
Well horse riding is now well and truly ticked off the list and on the never to be repeated one!
Just the fancy dress to get through now!
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