San Fernando

Trip Start Sep 28, 2009
Trip End May 02, 2010

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Flag of Nicaragua  , Río San Juan,
Friday, January 29, 2010

San Fernando (Elvis) Island, part of the Solentiname Archipelago on lake Nic, turned out to be the right place to base myself - really pretty & unspoilt, with the hospedajes right on the water, backing the jungle or both!

The Alberque had the prettiest spot, with lush vegetation & a huge porch and the best sunset views but the rooms were definitely lacking. Got escorted back to town by this massive pig who stayed about 4 paces back the whole way & was eventually chased off by a local - never saw it again but still no bacon on the menu!

Ended up at the Cabinas Paraiso, with really nice rooms with lake/sunset view balconies & hammocks. They had the best pillows so far in Central America - these things count when you've had to rest your head on rock hard, lumpy, sweaty, dirty, mouldy pillows in most other places! Still ended up bathing in the lake indirectly - the water is pumped up to use for showers & toilets, though at least the caimans & turtles do get filtered out!

Not a huge amount to do here and unless you're rich or a big group or lucky enough to hitch a cheap ride - you have to stay at least 3 nights as there are only 2 boats a week.

I was lucky to be there when there was a party on Mancarron Island which many of the islanders headed to, so could get a cheap ride there and back with a local family - went with Sylvio, the boat captain I arrived with, and his brood. By going with a young family & a reputable captain I knew we wouldn't be late back & he wouldn't be drunk.

Turns out 3 hours was plenty of time to wander all the main pathways in town, into a couple of the craftsmen's houses to watch them sanding & painting the balsa animals, see the oropendula building their nests, enjoy some vigoron (boiled yucca with cabbage salad) with chicharron (pork crackling) and a few beers while listening to live music and watching the locals dancing - this early in the day it was invited professional or trained dancers, though later I imagine the local borrachos were getting on down!

Next day I took a walk around the southern half of the island  - there are many non-marked paths so met many locals while taking the wrong turns, plus many of the paths run through their gardens so you have to run the gamut of the dogs, kids and horny old & young men! There was the 83 year old who wanted a much younger spinster as they were easier than widows apparently, the younger than me ranchero on horseback who kept calling me "joven" & wanted know where a pretty girl like me was going(!!!) and of course Sylvio, who was very keen to come with me on my walk - anything to get away from tending his bean fields? He did show me the path to one of the petroglyphs, though there are at least 2 more sites of them I passed on the walk but were not marked - I think the lack of signage is to force you to hire a local guide. A very pleasant 3 hour walk, half of which is inland through fincas and fields of seriously horned cattle and the other half through jungle and people's gardens lakeside. Did see a hawk and a pretty violet trogon too.
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