Rainy season is go, go, GO
Trip Start Jul 11, 2008
12Trip End Sep 30, 2008
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While you lot are all contending with crumbling banks, the onset of Autumn and no doubt the return of X-Factor et al, I thought I'd update you on the goings on over the other side of the pond. Firstly, rainy season set in. It has rained and rained every day for the past two weeks, but luckily the storms either keep themselves to the evening hours or come and go pretty quickly during the day. The nights are now a lot cooler, the days a bit sweatier and we're both constantly buzzing on cafeine because whenever there's a shower it seems like a good excuse to stop for a coffee.
We seem to have lost our momentum for covering ground a little, and have managed to spend nearly a week in Leon followed by 5 nights in Granada and now we're on day four on the Isla de Ometepe in the south of the country.
We spent the remainder of our time in Leon croc-spotting at the beach, sampling the Flor de Cana rum, getting swept along in religious parades and getting over the effects of the afore-mentioned drink.
On Thursday we went to Peneloya beach, 20km from Leon. It has a weird geography that has made it a great home for crocodiles. Basically, what used to be a 35km spit along the coast was made into an island and now the water that runs between this island and the main land has become a salt-water river where mangrove swamps grow. We took a boat trip along this river, and had been going less than ten minutes when we spotted a huge adult croccy chilling out on the bank. He dived sharpish into the water but not before we got the chance to get a look at him. or her. We also visited a local co-operative that are farming conch in the mangroves to sell to restaurants in leon to make conch ceviche. We'll make you some when we get home because its absolutely delicious. Good for a hangover too, we found out the next day. That night we finally bought a bottle of the local rum. Its some pretty dark stuff and cheap too, so between 6 of us we got through 4 bottles and 'an early night' turned into stumbling home at 4am. Next day we paid dearly.
So we had to put off moving on to Granada until Saturday. Granada and Leon are both colonial towns, but they differ in that Granada has had a tourist-friendly face lift so the churches are all painted yellow and white compared to Leon's faded grey, and the cobble stone roads dont have pot holes, and there are hanging baskets all over the place. On top of all this, horse-drawn carriages line the streets. As a result, the place had more tourists than it did locals. Still, as I said we managed to spend 5 nights there before we knew it.
We went up to Volcan Mombacho on Sunday, yet another volcano to add to our list! This one had a huge crater where it had erupted 2000 years ago and smoking fumeroles that stank of sulphur. We took this hike with two Chilean men in their 60s who were traveling central America and talked to us endlessly about how they'd had hair transplants last year and were very happy with the result. When the volcano erupted, it threw huge rocks out of its core and these landed in Lago de Nicaragua a few kilometres away. They now make up Las Isletas, a group of 350ish little islands on the lake.
Next day we went to Masaya, a nearby town with really good markets for hammocks and the like. We went first to the new market, but it was too expensive and nice so we headed instead to the old market, where the arts and crafts are dispersed amongst stalls with unrefrigerated meats, children's toys, clothes, shoes, belts, pet food, DVDs and CDs and just about everything else you could think of. We were much more at home there, with old ladies shouting 'hamacas' at us and people thrusting goods into our hands and bartering for hours just to get it down another dollar not because you need to but because its good fun. The starting prices for things at this market were lower than the prices we were trying to get them down to in the first market. We bought another hammock for 10 dollars, not sure how long it'll last but its sooo pretty.
We posted all that stuff home now, with our sleeping bags too. it was worryingly cheap to post a huge 7kg parcel back to the UK so either the Nicaraguan post service s awesome or corrupt. We'll find out in due time, i guess.
We were going to move on from Granada on Wednesday morning but then we remembered that Liverpool were playing on Wednesday night (lunch time for us) and there was an awesome little sports bar in Granada run by a kooky American and frequented by his equally kooky bunch of ex-pat friends. One of his employees who is also a local tour guide offered to take us to the Isletas on his boat in the morning on Wednesday so we decided we may as well do that and then get back for the football. So on Weds we sailed around the islands, including one that is home to four monkeys. Lucy, the mummy monkey came on the boat and ate our cookies. Some of the islands are owned by rich Nicaraguans and they have built these condos on them. We took a look at one that is for sale for ust 450,000 dollars. Something to save up for!
The afternoon consisted of football, lots of litres of beer and more than a few mojitos.
We finally made it to Ometepe on Thursday and have spent each night in a different place so far. You can get around the island on the one bus route, zipping from one retreat to another just for a different view of the lake and the two volcanoes that make up the island. You should check out Ometepe on google earth, or at least an atlas, if you can. Its crazy. Its made up of two volcanoes that rise out of Lago de Nicaragua, the bigger called Concepcion and the other Maderas. 35,000 people live in tiny communities around the base of these two volcanoes, fishing from the lake and farming coffee on the slopes. There are a number of awesome hostels dotted around the island, all of which have rooms with great views and suggestions of places to go hiking or biking. It is a place where everything is 'tranquillo' (relaxed, chilled out) and hugely quiet especially because we're now in the lowest of the low season. We've pretty much had most places to ourselves and yesterday when we went swimming in the lake we were the only people there.
So the plan is to spend a few more days here and then get to Costa Rica by mid week.
\Hope everyone is well at home. Grandad, I see Wycombe are now not only top of the table due to GD but are actually a few points ahead. Scott says that we always do this and always muck it up after Christmas. I say this year could be our year! Have you made it to any games?
Speak to you all soon xxxxxxxxxxxxx