Nicaragua 2014

Sunset at summit of Masaya volocano

 

We flew to Managua and began our trip there.  We slept a night at Managua Hills: The place was so quiet and relaxing with its nice pool and great breakfast.  I strongly recommend this place for about 50$US a night.

We took a minibus to Leon on our second day.  We were impressed to see the smoking volcanoes everywhere and the iguanas for sale on the side of the road.  (The iguanas are now protected, but still illegally sold for eggs and food).  The bus terminal in Leon was chaotic, so we took a taxi to the central market and the same taxi directly to Las Piñitas where we had a beach house waiting for us.

Las Penitas was really quiet in July, especially on weekdays.  The waves were massive and bigger than expected… Too big for me to surf…  The weather was really dry (biggest drought seen in years) and the heat incredible.

It was 34 degrees Celsius with 95% humidity every day for an average of 48 degrees during the day and rarely below 30 degrees at night.  We spent most days practicing our Spanish, watching the FIFA World Cup 2014 (in Brazil) and swimming to cool off.

After a week in Las Piñitas, we moved to Leon and went tobogganing on Cerro Negro (see a movie here).  The hike to the summit was almost better than the sliding part!  It was incredible to see the smoke (and the heat) rising from beneath our feet.

We left to Matagalpa with a public school bus with no less than 135 people in it. (By the way, we took 15-20 local buses during that trip: more discomfort than I can now handle!). 

Matagalpa was such a nice change from Leon!  The temperature was cooler and the coffee was amazing!
We visited the Castillo Del Cacao where they make local chocolate (it is sad that you can’t see the cacao growing on trees, but it is great to see how they make the chocolate) and we swam in Cascada Blanca, a short HORRIBLE bus ride from Matagalpa.

One of the best parts of our trip was a splurge at Selva Negra, a resort located high up in the mountains, where temperature average 10 degrees Celsius in the morning!  The wildlife is nice (although not amazing), but the forest (Selva in Spanish) is incredible.

 

 

 

 

We than took several taxis/buses to get to the bottom of Laguna Del Apoyo where we stayed 3 nights in a relaxing cabin.  There isn’t much to do there except swim, relax, hike, watch howler monkeys in trees and look for scorpions!
We continued our journey to Granada where we spent a week  studying in a Spanish school.  We stayed at Casa Capricho which is a true gem.  During our free afternoons, we visited Masaya Volcano, the islands of Granada, the Masaya market and all the other attractions around Granada.
Although touristy, Granada is not as touristy and developed as Antigua in Guatemala (for now). 
We had the chance to live the celebrations regarding the 1978 revolution.  For an outsider, this day was an eye opening to the country’s unknown past, but also a day of propaganda by the Ortega’s government…

We finished our trip to Isla de Ometepe which was a big disappointment…  We found that the North of Nicaragua was unspoiled by tourism…  Ometepe can be compared to any tourist spot in the world where tourism has left a bad mark: lies by local people, theft, high prices, less genuine people to discuss about everyday life, ‘’full hotels’’ mentioned by taxi drivers so they can get their commission, etc.  We didn’t experience any particular bad situation in Ometepe, but felt that is was all about the money, not about the people.
Instead of visiting San Juan Del Sur (another touristy spot), we decided to move back to Granada and hike quietly the summit of Mombacho.

Overall, an amazing experience –again- in Central America.  We ate too much fried chicken and ate amazing Nacatamales.  We saw dozens of wild animals and hundreds of bird species. We hiked several volcanoes and mountains and met some interesting people.