Just back from a 4-day trek to Nicaragua…the country which surprised me in a very nice way. Before my trip I mentioned it to my German friend…she paused and said “the last thing I remember about Nicaragua is assembling care packages for Nicaraguan revolutionaries while I was growing up in East Germany”. So, it made me think of my own words I had associated with that land – “Central America”, “volcanoes”, and “war”…
Managua: “Taxi, taxi!” – the airport was absolutely mad, but Ashley and I, always so intent on not being cheated, found a way to get a cheap taxi. We crossed the highway and caught an unsuspecting cab. Once settled in we realized that we had no idea of whether that kind of transportation was safe…especially after seeing that the driver was texting someone on his cell the whole time. I totally thought he was arranging our kidnapping and started fidgeting…until Ashley noted “he has a Bible verse next to his seat”…we looked at each other and decided he was harmless.
Granada: After a bus ride from Managua in what seemed like 100 degrees heat, we arrived to Granada. The backpacks were heavy, we were hot and we had to find the hotel where I made the reservation…but we did not make it there. Instead, we just entered what seemed like heaven at that moment – a beautiful colonial building with A/C. It turned out to be the Gran Francia hotel where we crashed.
Granada is beautiful. To tell you the truth I did not see it right away. But after I stopped being hot and could see, hear and smell the place, I was enchanted. The sunsets are peaceful, the walls of the old building are colorful, and the drumming parties with scary looking huge dolls are just cool. (I still need to read a story about their origin, but one friend says it represents a Spanish senora, tall and bossy. The drums are awesome though.)
Ometepe: From Granada we took yet another bus ride to the “Nicaraguan crown jewel” as it was called in my travel guide – Ometepe. Well, it was a bus and then a boat and then a car ride on a dirt road for 1.5 hours. But we made it. And it was beautiful. We saw the monkeys right in the forest nearby – even a baby monkey clinging to her Mom! We also kayaked and I should have realized that we were right by the equator and the sun would be merciless. My 40 SPF sunscreen did not work for nothing and now I am happily burned and covered in aloe vera gel 24×7. I also met a Russian man on the ferry who said he worked in Nicaragua on a de-mining project (I seem to meet Russians in EVERY place I visit). The most memorable part of course was the volcanoes – they play the first parts on this island. Actually, this is all that this island was – just 2 volcanoes born next to each other.
There is so much more to tell you, but I just can’t do it right…maybe later…One thing is for certain – it is a wonderful place despite the set images of Nicaragua we have in our minds.