LASA Tour 2009-10
Fri 10 Jul 2009 - Mon 20 Jul 2009 27 °C
Friday 10 July 2009
I wanted to travel to Matagalpa in Nicaragua from Berlín in El Salvador, it’s about 180 miles. To get to the border with Honduras is only about 44 miles yet I had to take four buses. Even after that I had to walk a mile to get to customs and pass into Honduras. There you cross a small stretch of Honduras which is 60 miles long, this takes another 2 hours. At the Nicaraguan border you pay $7 to enter yet the receipt shows $2, this border control man must be making a fortune. His shirt pocket was full of money. At least I was now in Nicaragua. Here I got put on a bus to León which I was told is on the way, which is true for about 20 miles then instead of heading north it heads south. I was also told it takes an hour and it took over three.
The next day I had to take two more buses but finally I arrived in Matagalpa after seven buses and 8 hours - Could it of been any more complicated?
Sunday 12 July 2009
Unfortunately Matagalpa wasn’t worth all the effort it took to get there. The town only had one decent Bar/Restaurant. The surroundings were nice hills but there was no tours offered. I took a bus to Jinotega which turned out to be a great ride with some amazing views so kind of a tour any way. There I took a taxi to the nearby lake. It was mostly fields with a few large puddles at the moment. Apparently the lake shrinks until later in the rainy season, they shouldn’t put it on the map then!
Monday 13 July 2009
I visited Selva Negra which was near by, this is quite a posh resort up in the hills but you are allowed to just visit and do the treks they have laid out. I think the highest point was about 1,600 metres so I made my way up. The ground was really muddy and slippery I nearly fell several times. At one point I was waist high in vegetation and realised I had gone off track – I definitely need a Yellow brick road to help find the way. At the top were a lot of trees so I couldn’t get a good view of the town.
The way back to town was great fun; a truck stopped on the track to the main road and let me hold on to the side for a lift. It was really bumpy but some how I held on.
Wednesday 15 July 2009
Just the three buses to get to Granada which is 68 miles. Almost too easy! In the afternoon I went kayaking on lake Nicaragua, this lake is over 75 miles long. My guide was called Giaconda. She came dressed in a bright orange traditional dress. Shortly into the trip I was practically told off for not paying attention to trees and surroundings. All the time Giaconda would be talking about the history of Nicaragua, in fact she didn’t stop talking once. Then she wanted to take a short cut through some reeves. They were about 80 metres long and there was only a thin stretch of water. It took for ages to get through and all she kept saying was “this way, this way” I was thinking I know but there’s no water under the kayak so it’s difficult to manoeuvre. I really thought we would be stuck there forever. She later admitted she thought the same. Afterwards at times she would say “go faster please” and also not instruct me which way to go until we were passing the turning. In an extremely strange way I was finding this great entertainment. We got to monkey island and there I fed some monkeys with some fruit I had picked off the trees along the way. Then Giaconda told me to get on the island and take some pictures, she assured me it was safe. I stepped onto the island and one of the monkeys started biting my leg while another which was hanging from the trees was strangling me. I couldn’t believe it. I managed to break free and fell backwards onto the kayak getting wet. After getting away Giaconda then told me that sometimes the monkeys have bitten tourists’ hands – So why did she tell me it was safe to go on the island? We headed to the fortress island and on the way Giaconda recited a famous Nicaraguan poem and sang a traditional song. On the fortress island she sang yet another song. I thought the trip was great fun and even though at times I wanted to kill Giaconda I booked her up for a trip to Masaya Volcano the next day. That night I kept thinking about the monkey attack, it does make me laugh, those cheeky monkeys!
Thursday 16 July 2009
Today Giaconda wore a yellow traditional dress. On the bus journey to Masaya she continued to explain the history of Nicaragua. The Masaya Volcano is not very tall but has several huge craters which release a lot of volcanic gases that really stink. Giaconda was funny once again as anyone who offered help in taking a photo, of which she wanted many taken, were lectured on what should and shouldn’t be included in the photo. One lady thought we were married and it did feel like a marriage getting bossed around so much, but it was good fun.
Sunday 19 July 2009
I got a ferry, more like a big boat so not sure why they call it a ferry, to Isla Ometepe which is an Island containing two volcanoes on Lake Nicaragua. It was very tricky getting around even though the island isn’t too big as the roads were in a right state. That night I had a strange visitor. I was woken up by the sound of something moving a plastic carrier bag. I thought it was perhaps a cockroach. I was surprised when I turned around and saw what I think was a shrew eating my biscuits. The cheeky bugger had gone though my stuff and helped itself. It scarpered up the wooden beam into the roof. It kept peeking down to see if I was still looking. In the end I put what was left of my biscuits outside my room for it and hoped it would leave me in peace. I really hope it was a shrew because I dread to think that it was a rat with a long tail.
Monday 20 July 2009
I got an even smaller boat back to mainland. It can probably hold about fifty people. I was a little worried as I hadn’t taken my Sea legs travel sickness pills but as it turns out that was the least of my worries. During the journey back the weather got quite bad and the waves were pretty big considering it’s a lake. The boat was really struggling to get to the other side. Then I think the captain decided to turn it round (to be honest I’m not sure what he was trying to do or why, maybe he had watched The Perfect Storm) and one of the waves tipped us so far that one side almost touched the sea while the other was high up in the air. It was so scary; I remember thinking this can’t be happening and then thinking this is going to happen. I really thought we were going to be capsized and so did everyone else on board. Seeing the water coming that close and feeling the boat tipping was horrible. After that wave quite a few people put on their life jackets and were waiting on deck so they wouldn’t get trapped. The boat wasn't really built for largish waves. Strangely enough apart from thinking I was going to die I was also thinking bloody hell my laptop is gonna get wet, like that would of mattered! In the end I only got wet feet and perhaps my pants were a little bit wet as well. I guess at least I saved £1 as it was half the price of the “ferry”. Being scared to death is also a good cure for sea sickness but not recommended.