A deer entered the bar...........
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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I also sit on top to enjoy the view as we sail closer and closer to the Isla de Ometepe. From a distance, all you can really see are the two volcanoes and what a sight they are!
There's a little bit of cloud cover so I don't get burnt, I end up talking to a lady from South Carolina, a republican who says 'yee haa' every 5 minutes. I'm polite to her, I know she is Republican for the really inappropriate conversation she was having with some strangers earlier. You never discuss religion or politics, well I don't, just interesting facts on the Isle of Wight and being ginger!
We dock and you walk off the boat where the cars exit. There's an inch of water from the waves spraying over the edge. I walk past a few guys who offer a taxi ride and when I tell them where I'm going, they just point up the road. I guess my fare would be too small. The hostel I'm staying in was recommended for the social aspect and within two minutes of being in the hostel I'm sat chatting to Chere, 41 from Portland, Oregon. She was sitting at the bar while I was checking in and we just started a conversation. She is travelling with her friend from Quebec Sebastian, 36, but he was very quiet and ended up going for a shower and a sleep. Chere and I talk a while then she points out Matt, 31 from Sydney, Australia who is looking to climb one of the volcanoes tomorrow like I want to. The funny thing is that Chere has just climbed one the day before and was in pain all over her legs, hips and butt. Even though she was encouraging us to go, she was also telling us how awful it was going to be.
The three of us end up going for a walk to explore the town and find a guide to take Matt and I up the volcano Conception. We found a company who would take us and Matt mentioned something about a decent black sand beach nearby. We find it and the sun is starting to set and the view from the Island is angelic.
We walk some more, taking our sandals off, avoiding some smashed glass bottles and enjoying the warm black sand on the soles of my incredibly dry feet!! We reach a point where we feel we have to return and interrupt a local guy having a wash in the lake. It's a fresh water lake, it was once connected to the Pacific but when it was cut off, some sharks got stuck and now the only fresh water sharks in the whole world are found in Nicaragua. I didn't see any sharks but the evening brought a still calm lake and some wonderful picture opportunities.
Similar to Isle de Sol in Bolivia, every local person you walk by, man, woman or child all say hello, or good morning/afternoon. This makes for a very welcoming experience. There are lots of animals on the Isla, many walking around by themselves, horses, cows, dogs, cats and even another pig for my pops!
We're back at the hostel, waiting for a guide to come find us to confirm the trip. The more people we find to climb the volcano, the cheaper it'll be. Sebastian joins us again after his nap and the beer drinking starts I set out by saying I'll have only a couple of beers seeing as I'll be up at 6am and will be climbing 1600 meters on steep terrain! The chef in the hostel is very good and we decide to stay here for dinner. I go for some fresh 'whole' of fish with spuds and veg and the other three have pizza. The food is awesome. The Chef is also from Quebec, everything is made to order and you really don't mind waiting that little bit longer if it is fresh food. It is around this time I notice lots of animals in the Hostel. A very friendly cat who obviously really liked me and not the fish I was eating. Over the course of the next few days, I would encounter more animals in our hostel. Read on to find out.
I don't know what the beer count was but I was enjoying the company of Chere and Matt while Sebastian was still being quiet. Matt decides to go to bed early leaving the three of us to leave the table and find somewhere more comfy for our butts. The hostel is very friendly, it has security posted outside the building 24 hours a day, but the guy behind the bar and one of the security guards seem to enjoy having play fights every 5 minutes of so. Unusual but amusing! When the drinks turn to neat whiskey, Sebastian calls it a night as well. I'm not sure how many whiskies Chere and I went through but at one point I saw a deer poke it's head into the bar. No, that must have been a cat, I mention it to Chere and she tells me a deer lives in the garden. As I get up to take a picture, it walks off.
It's gone past 1am, and I'm still at the bar. One more nightcap after nightcap. A big Norwegian dude called Bjorn joins us, he'd been drinking locally and we end up discussing Russian and Finnish cinema for an hour. He's an older guy but likes his films. At 2am we all call it a night. I probably won't see Chere again as she might be going in the morning but she might not be, but a very bad influence when it comes to drinking neat whiskey. I get to my bed and well, it's simply some wooden boards covered in a mattress that is the thickness of a sheet! I'm not kidding! I have a rough night sleep. It doesn't help that a marching band starts playing at 430am, the Chef is making a sandwich for my trip at 5am, some dude is snoring next to me and I still feel the drink inside me!
Miles walks 0.8
Temp 32C 90F
Day 94 April 8th - The alarm on my itouch is similar to say an alarm for a radioactive leak in a factory. It scares the s**t out of me but all I can do is press snooze and forget about it, well for ten minutes at least. I go brush my teeth and my feet are attacked by a duck! Matt and I are both up and the Chef makes a really great breakfast of Oatmeal, soft toasted bread rolls with Jam and coffee. He also made us both a chicken sandwich and baked some cookies for our lunch on the volcano, how good is that??!! We stock our bags with plenty of water, sunscreen and a spare tshirt. Chere said the night before that having a clean tshirt at the top might be a welcome change from a soaking sweaty wet tshirt.
Our guide finds us while we are having breakfast, a young lad Luis was, 24 and was born on the Isla. Amazing. He goes straight into telling us about an USA gringo he spent the night with and there is an obvious bounce in this step. We leave the hostel and head for a bus stop for a 4km trip to the start of the walk. The bus is on Latin American time and is 30 minutes late.
Once we board the bus we soon hop off and begin the hike.
The first hour or so is flat terrain but it is mixture of soft sand and dust,so very tiring to get grip and push off for your next step. Our guide is very informative, he stops at trees, picks up rocks, points out birds and his English is excellent. No matter how often people in Latin America say their English is bad, I always praise them, his was excellent and he had only been studying for 8 months. As we walk for the first hour,we are frequently passed by horses, just trotting around by themselves, some cows also walk past as well, I guess their Friday morning stroll!
Before we begin our climb, we stop off at a large tree to take some water and rest before we climb. There is another guide with two gringos just behind us. A Swedish couple.
Right, here comes the climb, just imagine at home, climbing your stairs for two hours, sometimes, one step at a time, sometimes three, sometimes there is no grip or trees to hang onto. I felt really good for the first hour of the climb, our guide said at any point you if need water, need to stop or whatever, just say. I could feel my legs wobble, I was constantly losing my balance and I asked to stop and he said, yeah, maybe in 5 mins!! When we did stop, it was near a group of Howler monkeys in the trees above us. Our guide climbed a tree and had the most amazing deep throat imitation of the howler call. Within minutes there were 6 monkeys close by and the alpha male was at the front going crazy!
After two hours we leave the comfort of the tree line, walk some steep terrain and find our stop for lunch.
The view was awesome, the feeling, great, my tshirt, soaked! So, it's at this point I should mention that we heard through many people that the guides never take people to the top, always some excuse but I can understand. The wind was very strong, the guide threw a stone into the wind and it came back at him. I was so exhausted that another 600m climb might be dangerous especially with the wind the frequently losing grip and balance! Now the sandwich the chef made was unbelievable! So so good!! I saved the cookies for later.
We took some pictures and the other guide opened up a map of Nicaragua and gave us a 15 minute talk about the history, the issues, his hopes, it was really good to hear his point of view.
We then descended and if going up was tough, going down was dangerous. It's obviously quicker going down but one is constantly reaching out for things to grab onto to stop falling or rolling down the side of the volcano. At one point the guide slid down a slope and stopped, I followed and took his legs out, I was literally holding him up by his armpits! Another time, I jumped off a ledge, felt my knee go the wrong way, leant down to rub it then toppled over backwards. I was lucky to reach out for some branches and held on. Five minutes later Matt sees me covered in mud and dust, did you fall Tony??
We soon reached the flat part again, the my legs were shaking, and my knees felt roughed up from all the tensing when going down the steep drop. As luck would have it, or good Mana, a bus rolled by within minute of leaving the hour long trail back to the road.
Soon I was back at the hostel, and straight into the shower, hosing off all the mud and dust! Fresh clothes and a drink later, hanging out in the bar. It got to the point where I couldn't keep my eyes open so had a good afternoon nap. When I woke, Matt and I met a young lad from New York, Julian and we ended up finding somewhere local for dinner and chomped the night away, with some more beers too. Before we headed out the cat sat on my lap and then owner brought out his monkey and the thing jumped on me and pushed the cat away. I've never had a monkey sit on me before or climb on me, so that was an interesting experience. The monkeys are used to sell for tourism or for fighting dogs but when the police pick them up, they bring them to the hostel for reeducation and when they have 5 will put them back in the wild together as a tribe. Oh for dinner I had Sopa de Pollo.
Matt was a very cool guy and very relaxed, calm and extremely intelligent. From all the people from Australia I've met, he's so unlike the others. He works in IT, had a long term girlfriend at home, gave me some hints and tips about my ipod and was really good intelligent company.
We got back to the hostel, I packed my bag ready for the early boat in the morning and ended up sitting on a table with two young German twins, Leah and Kira and their new friend Adam. We talked for a couple of hours, they were telling me about some British guy who stalked them and other guys who have stalked them on facebook.The looked like two young Swedish girls but I apologised on behalf of the UK! I told them about my USA adventure and seemed keen on the idea for themselves as well. The amusing part of the night was hearing them swear constantly when getting into bed in the dorm I was in. They were definitely going to change next day. Again, a rough night sleep on the bed of wood!
Miles walked 10.7
Temp 32C 92F
Day 95 April 9th - Wake at 515am, I offered to wake Julian as well. Quickly dress, pay my bill and we walk to the ferry. Matt and I are both in one of those trying to be friendly but really just want to sleep kind of moods. He was heading to Leon, I was heading to Grenada. As we docked the other side, Matt had a bus waiting for him, I grabbed a taxi into Rivas and found a reggae bus to Grenada.
My Review Of The Place I Stayed