Pipe Bombs, Bull Sharks and Nicatamales

Trip Start Dec 08, 2004
Trip End Dec 07, 2005

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Thursday, April 28, 2005

Nicaragua was certainly an interesting country.

We started in Leon as per the last update. I was ill for a few days with some kind of flu bug, so we stayed put for nearly a week in the end. Then we moved on to Granada.

The journey to Granada was another interesting one. We had to go via the capital, Managua. There had been riots in the city following the governments decision to increase the cost of public transport. We are not just talking about a few protests here, we actually saw students with shoulder launched home made missiles opening fire on the army and police! We had to get a taxi from one side of the city to the other to change buses. The supposed 15 minute journey turned into an hour and a half adventure. We had to actually pass the university where most of the trouble occurred where our taxi wove through a smouldering burnt tyre blockade. The city roads were in chaos forcing our driver down many backstreets, through a ford and a vegatable field to complete the journey. Interesting stuff!

Granada is another colonial city, on a slightly grander scale than Leon, it also has a much bigger tourist pull, although thats not really a bad thing in Nica, as so few tourists seem to come here anyway.

We spent a few days exploring the city and we visited the nearby craft town of Masaya. After Tasha recovered from a bout of Gallo Pinto poisoning we eventually moved on to Isla de Ometepe in Lago Nicaragua.

This was definately our favourite place in Nicaragua. The lake is the largest in Central America, and home to some of the more unusual aquatic species, including the fresh water Bull shark, the Sawfish (which looks prehistoric), the tarpon and some 20 varieties of Cichlids (The fish tasha kept at home!).

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending how you look at it, we didnīt get to see a Bull Shark. They are very rare these days due to over fishing, but apparently they still exist in the lake and can reach up to 3m. Skinny dipping anyone?

We stayed on the Isla de Ometepe, which is formed by two large volcanos with an isthmus connecting them in the middle. You can see the volcanos from nearly every point on the island.

The islands are sparsely developed for tourism and still very rural, which makes them all the more magical. We stayed at Charco Verde, where we swam in the lake, hired a kayak and paddled out to a uninhabited island where we ate delicous mangos and coconuts which we managed to club down from the trees and watched the incredible sunsets over the lake. One thing still puzzels us though... in the middle of the uninhabited island we found big pile of horse poo! Any ideas?

We also walked out to nature reserve on a peninsula and got up close and personal to a large colony of Howler Monkeys. There were about 10 adults and 6 babies, we watched them for hours swinging from branch to branch and foraging for food. Some local kids decided it would be fun to throw sticks at them, which the monkeys didnīt take kindly too. In unison they all started shaking the tree and letting out their best primeval type howl. The sound of a group of angry howler monkeys sends shivers up your spine, incredibly eery.

We finished off Nicaragua with a couple of days on the beach at San Juan del Sur, which was very relaxing aside from the persistant nibbling of fish in the sea!

* Nicatamale is the pride and joy of Nicaraguas cuisine. Its huge Tamale, which is a maize flour dough usually filled with chicken, wrapped in a palm leaf and steamed. The Nicatamale is different. They fill it with almost a whole stew of pork, rice and fresh vegetables. DELICIOUS!
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