Estelí and Reserva Miraflor, Nicaragua

I met Tian, a South African working in Algeria, twice already on Ometepe, so it was a surprise to find him on the same minivan from León to Estelí. We had to wait for the van to fill up before we could depart. In the end, a woman and her daughter came on, but she refused to pay for two fares, insisting that her daughter (at least 10 years old, mind you!) could sit on her lap for the 2.5 hour ride. The driver wasn’t having it. Tian offered to pay one of her fares so we could get going, and I translated his offer for him. Everybody was satisfied with that.

I only had the one afternoon in Estelí, so after a rigorous cleanup from my León/Telica activities, I walked around town, taking in the many political murals, the market upon which all the farmers in the surrounding highlands converge on, and even a protest of some sort marching right past my hostel. Estelí is also very famous for cigars, but that didn’t interest me so much and I had no time. Continue reading

Cerro Negro and Volcán Telica, Nicaragua

Nicaragua is already a country of volcanoes, but León is positively surrounded by them.  In fact, the old city of León was buried by an eruption and the current, rebuilt León is 30 km away from the old one.

I joined three people from my hostel on a day trip to Cerro Negro.  The rural road we were on wasn’t made for automobiles, clearly – aside from sharing the one “lane” with horses and cows, it was extremely bumpy and worn to the point that we got stuck a few times, needing to back up and speed across a hump or giant rock or tree root. Continue reading

León, Nicaragua

León is in the lowlands, the hottest part of the country.  I thought it was hot enough already…but then I arrive to find 37ºC weather!  Given that, I found a hostel with a pool and spent a lot of time there.

León is a very colonial city, like Granada, with whom it has shared a long rivalry – both cities have been the capital of Nicaragua at some point, until the neutral city of Managua was finally picked.  Aesthetically, they’re similar (though León is a little bit more rundown), but politically, they couldn’t be further away from each other – León is the hub of the left, and Granada for the right. Continue reading

Corn Islands, Nicaragua

I’d say I’ve been super lucky so far – throughout the last two years of on-and-off travelling, I never had any notable weather-related problems.

Things seemed to move like clockwork on Saturday: 6:30 ferry back to San Jorge, 8:30 direct bus to Managua, enough time to take the cheap public bus to the airport instead of a taxi, 2:15 flight to Big Corn Island.  Four days in the Caribbean, finally get to relax on the beach, go diving again…right? Continue reading

Ometepe, Nicaragua

Ometepe is considered to be Nicaragua’s crown jewel.  Every time I mentioned to a local that I’d be heading there, their face would just light up.

Conni and I attempted to take an early bus from Granada to Rivas, where the ferries to Ometepe depart from (actually, in San Jorge, a 5 minute taxi ride away from Rivas).  We made our way to the bus station at 9:45 am, and when we asked the “conductor” (not the guy driving, but the guy who goes around the bus collecting fares from everyone) when it’d be leaving, he said “Ahorita!” (“Right now!”) Continue reading

Granada, Nicaragua

The intercity buses in Nicaragua are garishly painted school buses.  Usually they’ll have some sort of Christian message, but then they’ll also have random colours and stickers, ranging from flames to Transformers to Spiderman.

So I rode one of those to Granada (costing me mere cents).  Uncertain where to hop off, I just hopped off…somewhere and started to look for my hostel, the one whose reservation I had abandoned the previous night.  After walking up and down the long street at least 4 times (over 1 hour) and not finding it, I found a girl working at the hostel standing right outside of it.  Except not really.  The hostel I had reserved with had closed down, and the new hostel in its place had nothing to do with it.  Oops. Continue reading

Managua, Nicaragua

I saw absolutely nothing in this city.  This is really just a story of how I ended up there.

I was sitting next to a Nicaraguan woman on my second flight (Atlanta to Managua), a plane consisting mostly of tourists and volunteers, but few locals.  She was surprised that I speak Spanish.  (Well, my fluency is another matter, but I can more or less carry a long conversation.) Continue reading