Right now we are sitting in a German Bakery in Costa Rica, enjoying yet another day of rain, catching up on the updating we have been slacking on, so here it is!
Most people fly into Managua, crash for one night then take off to all the surrounding exciting cities and natural wonders. Those tourists are correct in doing so. Managua is just a big city that was created ‘recently’ from what we understood as it was explained to us that Leon and Granada were constantly fighting over which was the capital so they just made another altogether to end the argument. However what we can say is that Leon has the appearance today of being a popular city centuries ago that everyone forgot about. While on the other hand, Granada is a stunning colonial specimen.
We heard volcano Masaya was amazing and another unmissable chance to get an up-close look at Lava. We headed there for the sunset and were a little surprised and disappointed. It was very controlled, we were not allowed entry until 530, which is after the sunset. We had to stop halfway up the volcano road for timing and we only got 30 minutes up there before we were whistled to head back down so the next group could drive up. There were 3 lookout points and the path around the volcano was blocked. For others who haven’t seen the insides of a glowing red volcano, this could be cool. However since we had gone to Telica, only paid 5$, didn’t have heaps of tourists and we could actually see the flowing lava, not just glowing red sulphur gas (although that was still cool) we were not that blow away. All in all, only do Masaya if you cannot hike Telica. It is still cool to see a volcano either way but this one is just the less of the two in our opinion.
Another colonial city but wow, they have really kept up with the infrastructure more here and the exterior facade. The city is clean, bright and beautiful. From the top of the main church’s bell tower, you get a beautiful view of the clay roof houses in one direction and the lake with the volcano backdrop in the other. It has a very friendly feel however much more touristy than anywhere else in Nicaragua that we have experienced, and with this comes the price of it being more expensive. There is a whole strip with bars and restaurants that have great food and a wide variety of types of cuisines (if you are now finally tired of tortillas, rice and beans). We ventured that way, Frederik still looking for a good burger, and we left with Taylor being a lightweight and getting drunk off 3 drinks.
We boarded the little rinky-dink ferry to take us across to the island. It was 20$ each way and just as unorganized like the border crossings to find out who you get a ticket from and where to go, however thankfully with a lot fewer steps. After docking and sweating the whole ride over we headed straight for the natural spring pools to relax and be supposedly healed by the mineral waters. The next morning, after a nights camping in the parking lot which was a dirt circle under the trees, we snuck back down to the waters for a morning dip, totally secluded before any tourists arrived.
Originally we planned to hike one of the two volcanos but we learned Conception required a guide for safety purposes and you’d be fined if found without one. The second volcano we had planned to do but when we woke to a drizzly cloudy morning we both just had no motivation. Instead, we drove the whole way around the volcano on the coastal road stopping at a chocolate paradise and little lookouts.
Just an FYI when you are trying to drive your car back to mainland make sure to buy a ferry reservation beforehand. We are traveling through Nicaragua during a time when it isn’t high season and the first 2 boats we tried for were fully booked. So we could only imagine how difficult it’ll be in a months time.
We picked up Frederik’s friend, Mie and an Israeli named Or who she was travelling with in San Juan del Sur before heading off with yet another two people lying on our bed enduring a bumpy road to the beach of Playas Maderas. Mie had heard through the raving other travellers of a hostel by the name of Clandestino, built by a young German couple back in the jungle surrounded by nature and animals. Well, the stories were not misleading, it was beautiful and we not only saw but heard the crazy noise of the howler monkeys in the early morning. We drove 40 minutes down rough dirt roads to a little village of hostels in the jungle the liked out of seemingly nowhere. Most looking like Clandestino, little wooden huts with leaf roofs and a view of a jungle paradise. The owners kindly let us sleep in our car and use all their facilities for a small price so we could hang out with Mie and Or.
Just a 10 minute walk away was Maladres beach, the best spot for surfing. Of course, we went a couple times, trying our hand again at actually standing up. We both still are not too successful in that department. The sunsets, however, with a cold beer after constantly being smashed by waves were worth it all. We stayed for 2 nights, saying goodbye to Mie and Or, as they were staying in the area a little longer, and we were headed for Costa Rica!……to yet again be faced with another long (almost unsuccessful) and confusing border crossing.