I have to think where to start, as I had a lot experiences since the last post.
On Friday morning, me and a Slovenian girl, who arrived to Via Via the day before from Honduras, woke up before 6 a.m. to be in our destinations asap. Once we arrived to the Managua minibus bus station, I have realized that it actually may be better to head towards Masaya rather than to Granada. In the surrandings of Masaya there are two natural wonders, Laguna de Apayo and Masaya Volcano NP, and the city of Masaya is actually between Managua and Granada, so why to complicate it by going directly to Granada. The city by itself had nothing to offer and by any mean could not match beauties of Leon. Therefore I just used it as a basis to my exploration
. The same day upon the arrival in Masaya I took a local bus to the nearest village to Laguna de Apayo. It was an experience by itself, as I was not sure if the driver and locals on the bus fully understood where I intend to go. However everything went well and after paying 5 cordobas for a ticket and spening 30 minutes on the bus, I have reached the rim of the crater in which the laguna is located. From there it was still around 2 km hike down the rim on the local road. Luckily enough a car stopped and the driver asked me in English for directions to the lagoon. He turned to be a German doctor who has been living already 3 years in Nicaragua. He, his mistress and her kids were heading to one of those nice lagoon hotels for the weekend. Afther a while of talking to him, the doctor happened to be a bit weird.... he gave me his bussiness card (stating the he works in the field of the stem cells), started telling me thatI should read one of his books, and that he can cure the most ilnesses including HIV
, therefore pharmaceutical companies want to kill him. On top of all that, he was convinced that the WW III will begin at the end of this year. I am telling ya that he was super nice to me, but he was suspecious. At some point I started to worry that he can use my body for his research :-)). His name was Dr. Julius Hellental. So check on him on the internet and call Interpol, if needed... haha. Hapilly enough, the daughter of his Nicaraguan mistress was absolutely stunning. Without any exeggeration, she had everything to become the next Miss World or Universe.....no KIDDING!
. Pitty she was somethng between 16-18, but somehow she really liked me and when Dr. ´´Weirdo´´ was givin me a ride back to the crater rim she wanted to go with us, and before I got off his car the Dr. told us that we should kiss goodbye (looked like he wanted to hook us up). I am telling you that guy was somehow strange, but the kiss made my day.
After telling you about this unusal encounter, I can finally come back to the laguna which is located in the crater of the extinguished volcano. The water there is totally pristine and very warm. However the most enjoyable was laying my eyes on the picturesque slopes of the volcano covered with a very thick vegetation, and as a cherry on a cake, the tranquillity disturb only by singing birds. Really a great and relaxin experience.
The next day morning I was heading towards Masaya Volcano NP. To get there, I had to take a Managua bound bus. Eventhough I managed to tell (believe or not but in Spanish) the driver that I want to get off at the NP entrance he totally forgot about it. Luckily enough I was watching the road, so when the bus was not slowing down at the NP sign I started shouting at him
. If I was no paying attention that idiot would have driven me all the way back to Managua.The craters which comprise Volcan Masaya NP are the most easilly accessible volcanos in the country (actually people were coming up there by taxis). The park consist of a pair volcanos, Masaya and Nindri, which together comprise 5 craters. Masaya volcano is not active any more and is completely cover with vegatation. On the other hand, Nindri is still active and, as you can see from the picture, it sheds a lot of smoke which smells after sulfur. Seeeing Nindri volcano really felt like looking into Luciper´s garden. There were also warning instructions telling visitors what to do if volcano explodes (actually you must hide underneath any car). Originally I was considering to hike up to the volcanos, but after first 1.5 km I gave up and asked the NP rangers to give me a ride up for 50 cordobas. The way back down I managed to do on foot, but after those almost 7km you could swim in a sea of the sweat in my clothes (it was sooo hot there).
After 2.5 hrs of visiting Masaya NP I was back in Masaya town to just pick up my backpack and hurry to catch a bus to Granada and from there to Nandaime. All that to get to Mombacho reservation.
Maybe now, it is good time to give you a bit of inside how local buses (ordinario) operate
. There are all old US school buses and are usually pretty crowded. They leave from bus stations which are usually located on the outskirts of towns and look rather like a big thrash place than bus stations. Before such local bus leaves there are around 10 sellers coming aboard to offer you everyting from drinks and various foods to cheap watches. You can really see that those guys are selling all that stuff to make living. Once a bus manages to get out of jammed streets around a bus station, we are off to a final destination. Nevertheless, these ordinario buses stop anywhere on the way. Actually it is quite cool, as catching a bus is never a problem, just sit and wait for a bus on a side of a road. This time (on the way from Granada to Nandaime) I finally experienced travelling with a lifestock, in this case chickens :-)). On the bus there is a driver and usually one busman who shouts at people standing at a side of a road asking them if they need a bus ride. The busman also helps people on and off the bus, colects bus fare and notoriously stands in an open bus door (saftery first!).
Mombacho is a fairly new reservation which was founded around 9 years ago with a significant financial help of the US and UK. The main site point is 1,345m high Mombacho volcano which stands guard over Granada
. The slopes of the volcano are covered by cofee farms in the lower altitudes and with a cloud forest on its peaks. As a hot air from the Lake Nicaragua climbs up the volcano´s slopes and clashes with coller air, a lot of clouds creates around the volcano. I signed up for a night at the rangers station which cost $45 and included a night at a very spartan dorm, a dinner and breakfast, and also a night walk through a cloud forest to observe somel local animal species. It was a bit pricey for Nicaragua, but this money helps to maitain and run the whole reservation, which do not get any funds from the goverment. Guys, I am telling you that those 24 hrs up there were worth every penny!!! The views from up there were magnificent (you can see the whole Lake Nicaragua, other volcanos, Laguna de Apayo and below streching city of Granada) and if you ever come to Nicaragua you must visit this reservation. On top of all that, I paid another $20 for a 3 hour cloud forest tour which is closed to other visitors.I am really short of words to describe how amazing it was walking through that untouched jundgle of wet and cool forest. During this track, I was accompanied by an English speaking reservation ranger who knew so much about all the vegetation and fauna there. And there was nobody else there besides us two.
Afther this wonderful time up there, I finally arrived to Granada, an old colonial town on the shore of the Lake Nicaragua
. They call it a golden goose egg of Nicaraguan turism and it is correct. The town is beautiful, well maintained for turism, but to me it is not so appealing as Leon. For me a bit touristy. Therefore, go Leon, go! Today, on September 14, is the independence day here, so we had a nice parade going through the city. There were hundreds of school and high school kids marching throughout the city dancing and playing various instruments. It was very nice to watch.
Today, once this blog entry is finished, I am off to Rivas from where I will get to the island Ometepe, which is located in the middle of the Lake Nicaragua. Over there I would like to climb still active volcano Concepcion and just rest.
To recap a bit. I am super enjoying the natural wonders of this country. Unfortunately, the most of travellers moving around Nicaragua are couples so it is hard to party. It is a bit better here in Granada,but an idea of partying with US or UK teenagers is not appealing to me. It would be great to have a buddy here to go out with. Apparantly, it is off peak season here and the backpacker crowd is quite small. But I hope for better in Costa Rica and mainly Panama.
The next post will come already from Costa Rica where I expect to arrive around Friday......let´s see.