Spot the Gringo.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Hotel Agua Azul

Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Friday, November 12, 2004

I have decided to travel with Catherine and Steve for a few days on my way from Copán, Honduras to León, Nicaragua. Instead of making our way to San Pedro Sula to catch the express bus in direction Tegucigalpa and then onwards to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, we opt instead to visit Agua Azul along the shores of Lago de Yojoa, about halfway between San Pedro and Tegucigalpa. I haven´t heard about the lake, but apparently it's overlooked by nice mountains and very close to Honduras so-called "most spectacular waterfall." Catarata de Pulhapanzak. The waterfall got a 43 meter high cascade according to my guide book, while Catherine´s book state that the drop is close to 430 meters. Although I am disappointed by my outdated guide books travel and transport information, as well as it´s frequently terribly wrong maps, it wins hands down this time. The waterfall is pretty cool, but no way that´s even close to 430 meters. Not that we thought it would be. I totally understand that guide books will have incorrect as well as outdated information in them, but it must be bloody annoying when you (the ignorant tourist) maybe travel an extra day or two to see it, while daydreaming on the chicken bus taking you there about the splendor of it all. "Wow, a 430 meter cascade. Must be one of the highest falls in the world. Pulhapanzak, strange I haven´t heard about it. Where's all the tourists, or the guy collecting the entrance fee? I have it all to myself. Yippie!! I can see the top of the waterfall now, here we goooo..... Hey author, you must be fu.... joking, my grandmother's pink plastic garden fountain is more impressive."

Lago de Yojoa and Hotel Agua Azul are both pretty nice, the hotel got a wonderful deck giving us great beer drinking opportunities, while watching feeding hummingbirds and gazing over the peaceful lake. But there´s not a single tourist to see. In fact we are the only one staying here. Kind of reminds me of Bates Hotel in Psycho. We are off the beaten track now. One night here seems enough, so we continue the next morning. When you are off the beaten track, it´s sometimes difficult to get back on. This is proven by yet another chicken bus marathon. Two days in a row now. No way we will reach León today either, not even the border with Nicaragua. We settle for the night in a dust bowl of a town, and continue the next morning for yet another snail pace marathon. At the border between Honduras and Nicaragua the locals are playing "spot the gringo." They see us as soon as the bus roll into the station at the border. Dozing in the shadow a minute ago, they are now leaping like gazelles over tricycles and ill maintained vegetation. The old American school bus is surrounded in mere nanoseconds. They are moneychangers, panhandlers, bag carriers and tricycle chauffeurs competing for our money. Maybe it´s a bit sad, but to me the whole episode was absolutely hilarious, and I still have instant replay dreams about their expressions while first spotting us on the bus.

It´s taken us three pretty long days on numerous chicken busses to reach León from Copán. We will hang out here for a few days visiting the largest Cathedral in Central America, as well as snapping a few photos of the famous political murals around town. Some Sandinista, Somoza as well as Contras history is unavoidable in this university city. After a few days here, the plan is to head out to Corn Islands on a flight from Managua.
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lakaitgreg on

Sandinistas and chicken buses? Who could say no?
This sounds like an absolute blast. I've always wanted to go to Nicaragua, and I'm not going to lie, your description of it sounds like too much fun to pass up. And don't worry, the tourist industry is most definitely funny, especially when poorly improvised and pathetically veiled.

Thanks for the story

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