Well, it's been a wicked long time since we updated our blog. I'll explain why later on. Anyways, here goes.
We took a cab to the King Quality bus terminal early in the morning to catch the 6:00am bus to Managua. When the ticket lady got there at 4:30am, she informed us there were no more coach tickets, only the primera clase, which were about 60 bucks a piece. We sat around for a while thinking about what to do, and in the mean time she came by and said she could give us a discount of 3 bucks each ticket. Wow. Well, we weighed our options, checked the TICA bus (which were sold out as well) and then decided to buy the tickets. The ride was nice, first class has it's own section below the huge bus and we watched a few good movies. The highlight of this bus trip though, was meeting a really cool guy from Virginia, Shin, who works for Students Helping Honduras. We chatted it up for a long time, slept for a while, and finally arrived in Managua eight hours later.
After we got our bags, we said goodbye to Shin, and caught a cab to UCA(University of Central America) where all the minibuses leave for Leon. We immediately got in one, and made our way to Leon in about 1.5 hours. We were so tired from travelling all day, we picked a hotel from our Lonely Planet book, went there and signed in right away. After that we had a grocery store dinner of avocado and tomato sandwiches and went to find Leon's small movie theater in hopes of some A/C. We watched the new Batman and went back to the hotel to crash.
The next morning we woke up early. We had used a laudromat close by our last time in Leon, so we went searching for it to do some much needed clothes washing. We found it, put our clothes to wash, and found a step just outside to sit and wait. We're just sitting there when all the sudden Thalita says, "No way! AJ, Look! Get the camera!" Below is what we saw. The pic isn't that great, it's from far away, but this dude was just walking down the street as naked as the day he was born. Crazy.
This next pic is a lion outside a church. Very fitting in Leon.
Well, that naked dude started the morning off hilariously. After the laundry, we headed to the small market where buses leave for the beaches of Poneloya and Las Penitas. We caught a bus after a bit, and were in Las Penitas by early afternoon. Coody, Parsons, and I had stayed at Hotel Suyapa Beach last time, so we got a room there for 2 nights. It was hot and stuffy but had fans which made it ok, until the power shut off for most the night time. That was pretty horrible. Other than that, the beach was great, we swam alot, and ate some very filling meals at the attached restaurant. Here's a few pics from our couple days there.
This first one is Thalita on the rocks that separate the beaches of Las Penitas and Poneloya.
This is us at the mouth of the river that empties into the ocean close by.
This is Thalita just after sunset our second night there.
We woke up the next day glad to be getting out of that hotel. I don't mind not having power sometimes, but when you're paying for it in the hotel bill, it's really not cool when it goes out for long periods of time.
Anyways, we headed back through Leon, and straight to Managua on July 24. We spent 2 nights pampering ourselves in Managua at the Best Western. We scrubbed the weeks worth of grime off, and enjoyed some nice super clean sheets. The Best Western was great, but very expensive for our shoestring budget, so we headed out after that.
We caught a bus to Rivas, then a short taxi to San Jorge, where the boats leave for Isla de Ometepe. Ometepe is a volcanic island on Lake Nicaragua made up of two volcanoes, the larger is Concepcion, and the smaller is Maderas.
The boat wasn't that bad for nausea like our previous boat trips have been. Here is a pic of the island from the boat.
The boat over took about 1 hour, and it was about 4:00pm when we docked. We knew we wanted to stay in Altagracia that night, so we had to find a bus there quickly, and luckily, there was one close to the dock. We hopped on for an hour ride across the island's one "paved" road. We got off the bus at Hotel Castillo, signed in, and got something to eat. We retired to the room to shower and read a bit before going to sleep. The room wasn't too bad, but after a couple hours of reading in the bed, we both started to itch. And itch some more. Bedbugs! We tried to sleep, and did a little, but most the night was spent scratching.
The next morning was Sunday, which made it tough to catch a bus to the other side of the island. Apparently only one went at 11:30am. We waited from 11:00am to about 12:30pm, leaving ample time for "Latin American Time" with the promptness of bus schedules. We were thinking about taking a bus to the turn-off for the other side of the island, when a drunk on a bicycle decided to hassel us. He was so wasted, but was demanding I give him money for more rum. We decided to walk away quickly and catch that bus to the turn-off. We get dropped off, and started walking, hoping to catch a ride towards Finca Magdelena, the place we wanted to stay that night. After a bit, a lady in a truck that taxis people down the 4wd roads, pulled up, and we road the rest of the way with her.
We got to Finca Magdelena, and it was gorgeous. It's a massive old farmhouse with a large amount of property. It's a cooperative run by 20 or so families. They grow tons of organic produce, including organic coffee. They have several dorm rooms with cots, many private rooms, and hammocks on the porches. We opted for the dorm room for $2.50 a night, what a deal! Here's me in the dorm.
After settling our stuff, we went to the desk to sign up for hiking Volcan Maderas on the next morning. Here's a pic of Volcan Concepcion, the bigger one, as seen from Finca Magdelena at the base of Volcan Maderas.
We went to sleep pretty early to make sure we were ready for the hike. We woke up, had some gallo pinto with eggs and coffee, and met up with our guide. We only had one other guy going with us that day, a Canadian named Mike. Before we left our guide made us get another 1.5liter of water, saying you'll need it. We already had 2, but we figured we should listen, and we were so glad we did. We left for the hike and made our way up the 4 hour ascent. It was freakin tough. Not just for the steep mountain, but the trail is mostly slippery mud, which made it much harder for us. We finally made it to the top, and then realized to get to the lake we had to descend a steep trail for a few minutes. Here is a pic of the lake at the top. Some folks swam in it, but it was only a few feet deep and leeches kept crossing my mind.
After a halfhour break, we started the way back down. This was easier on the lungs, but tough for balance. I fell 6 or 7 times flat on my ass in all that slippery mud. With lots of scrapes and sore bodies, we made it back down. In all it took us 8 hours and 15 minutes. Our guidebook said 7-8 hours, so we were pretty happy. Here is us at the bottom of the volcano, muddy, but happy we finished.
We got back, and immediately headed for the showers. I just walked in with all my clothes on, in an attempt to clean the mud from them. Showered and clean, we got some food, and chilled in some rocking chairs to watch the sunset. We met some really cool folks that night and stayed up talking for a long time with them and Mike, the guy from our hike. Our new friends were very nice people, and we had such a good time with them, we decided to stay another day at Finca Magdelena. We woke up late, lounged around all day, and had another night of the same. Wicked cool. The next morning we woke up, and had some breakfast, took it slow, decided to share a cab with Mike back to the dock, to head back to the mainland, and back to Managua. Here's a pic of us and our friends we met hanging out just before we left Finca Magdelena. From left to right: AJ from US, Thalita from US/Brazil, Mike from Canada, Franco from Switzerland, Eana from US, and Dave from Ireland.
We got to the dock just in time to catch the next boat back. As soon as we got off, we saw a bus going all the way to Managua from the dock, which would cut out going to Rivas then Managua. That was great. We said goodbye to Mike, and got on the bus. We made it to Managua and found a nice little guesthouse called Pousada de Ruth. 25 bucks for nice room with a/c and private bath. We spent the next few days just hanging out in Managua. We went to an Irish pub up the road called Shannon bar, where I extended my love of Beastie Boys to the locals with some loud songs on the jukebox.
We love Nicaragua.