Nicaragua, Granada to Esteli

Trip Start Aug 30, 2007
Trip End Jun 30, 2008

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Saturday, April 5, 2008

Hola amigos.
The first leg of the road trip has begun. The three of us: Chris, myself and our trusty old car Pepita (like an adorable but troublesome grandparent) left Santa Ana early on Monday, quite sad to leave the place, its birds, trees, and friendliness. Has been a good home for the past five months.

We drove for about six hours, right up to the very north of CR into the "wild west" region of Guanacaste. A hot arid area (especially in April) that we had not yet explored and where relatively few tourists venture. Arriving mid afternoon we had just enough time to head down to the beach. Utterly deserted, and one of the most beautiful weve seen, and would be perfect if not for the stings in the water. Cant remember what causes it (remember the same in Thailand).

Up early on Tuesday to head to the border. The dreaded first border crossing. Equipped with numerous documents and multiple photocopies of everything photocopiable, a bit of hope and a smile, we arrived into the chaos that we had read about and had anxiously anticipated. Immediately, we were offered assistance to speed up the process. We accepted (just this once we thought) and were done impressively quickly once the passport lady had finished her breakfast and could turn her attention our way. On to Nicaragua. First lungful of insecticide as a far-from-airtight Pepita is fumigated, and we arrive at the office where were asked for some original part of some sticker we have on the windscreen. Its the one thing we dont seem to have. Several troubled moments pass before we are sent back, through the smog of idling trucks, to CR to find a lawyer. Its getting hotter and stickier by the minute. More waiting until its sorted, a second lungful of insecticide and were back in Nica. I sit cooking in the car while Chris runs around, chasing officials and policeman, and two hours later its a high five moment as we get on our way. Lots of inexplicable fees, but no bribing situations, so what was all the fuss about...? Only 7 more borders to cross.

We headed straight for Granada, a beautiful town full of colonial architecture, churches and a peaceful air. Theres really nowhere like it in CR. Were already impressed by Nicaragua, and thinking about how our Tico friends will be most annoyed to hear of our approval (Ticos and Nicas have a mutual dislike to put it mildly.)

We spent our time wandering, eating, and admiring, interrupted only by my decision to get a troublesome tooth checked out. Ended up with two fillings for about 8 pounds sterling. Bit scary to open up for a dentist in a foreign country without anything nearly resembling fluency in the lingo, but I guess Ive saved  a few bills back home. 

Spent following two nights chilling by a lake formed by a volcanic crater. Perfect pristine waters for swimming and kayaking, when not lying in hammock reading.

Yesterday we drove all the way to the northern town of Esteli where we are now. Its a speedy schedule were keeping up here. Stopped off on the way here at pretty town of Masaya famed for its crafts and ended up spending on a few paintings for imagined future home.

We meant to go only as far as San Rafael, a village given a good write up. When we arrived at the only hotel we could find I was just a little unsettled by the spiders and scorpions. Still we checked in and explored. Really, Ive never been stared at quite so much. A look somewhere between puzzled and gobsmacked. Seems they aint seen many like us before (my bright white legs probably didnt help). Next, we picked Esteli off the map and drove on. Perhaps a mistake. The road was incredibly bad, and it was already getting dark. We drove at 15 miles an hour over rocks and in and out of pot holes for two hours, but through really stunning landscapes, and eye-opening desperately poor villages, where the people really did not know what to make of two gringos in a Costa Rican car driving through their remote settlements.

We made it, but poor old pepites, weve pushed her too hard and she needs the doctor again. Shes a bit incontinent with diesel and a bit slobbery with the oil. Chris is nursing her as I write. 

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