Nicaragua

Bloggers reward ;-)

Just a short update on how this travelbog is growing are going…

With almost 25.000 hits the statistics recognized 133 different territories.  The dense populated big modern countries are easy to get on the world map.  But tiny islands lost in the middle of a vast ocean with maybe a population of a couple of hundred persons are harder to reach as well as some devastated countries in war  It’s very satisfying to see that also they find the way to our blog.

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The top 10: Italy, Belgium, Spain, United States, Argentina, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Colombia

Some others that caught my attention: Zimbabwe, Syria, Nigeria, Mozambique, Brunei, Palestinian Territories, Guam, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Benin, Mayotte, Tanzania, French Polynesia, Ghana, Nepal, Azerbaijan, Bhutan.

Thank you all, the Hermes’Journey goes on…

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Categories: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, U.S.A. | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The expensive corner of Nicaragua: San Juan del Sur.

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05-06/10/2013

From Rivas we take the cheapest taxi ever, almost 2 hours of driving for just 100C$ directly to our new destination.  Surrounded by mountains, there lies the valley that accommodates the settlement discovered by a Spanish sailor, Andres Niño in the summer of 1522, in his quest for a route that would embrace both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.  San Juan del Sur, about 140km from Managua City, has the largest bay in the Nicaraguan South Pacific Coast, escorted by beautiful beaches that make it even more attractive.  Playa Marsella and Playa Madera at the north of the village and Playa Hermosa, Playa El Coco and Playa La Flor at the south of this small fishers village.  A big opportunity for both beginner and experienced surfer are the different surf spots along the shore.

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Endowed with more than three kilometer of white sand beaches, San Juan del Sur, with its 14.000 habitants, is also a major port in the Pacific coast of Nicaragua but still feels like a small nothing-to-do community.  Our hostel, ‘Hospedaje Nina’ (380C$ / night) is right in the center, near to the central square, little marketplace and the village beach.   At first we get a very good impression with its cozy streets, lively ambient and a kind of ‘I-don’t-care-atmosphere’.  But nothing is what it seems to be… there where we see relax and good vibrations we are confronted with business and unreal high prices.  San Juan del Sur is a growing surf destination and lots of Costa Rica surf tourism moved to this corner at the border.  If we compare with Costa Rica, it might be a bit cheaper here but not as much as it should be for a Nicaraguan village.  Transports to the next beach are as expensive as taking the bus and crossing the whole country and when we ask for prices to visit one of the beaches (Playa La Flor) where turtles come to lay their eggs, we understand that this is unpayable for us and for most of the travelers on budget.  So the first day we have a walk through the village, along the beach and the small shops with all kind of expensive handcrafts.  After asking and comparing lots of prices we finally find the one and only restaurant with mercy for the wallet: 205C$ for a steak with jalapeños sauce and a roasted chicken with rice in the local village canteen.  After a good sleep we try again, just to make sure we heard well yesterday. We ask again for the prices for some activities but there is no hope.  So we spend a nice day at the beach, have a swim, write a post, read a book, prepare the border passing for tomorrow and close the day with a beautiful sunset fotoshoot.

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We like San Juan del Sur but we just think that it’s overpriced.  So we would like to ask for a big favor to all those dollar-waving-surfer-dudes… it might be cool to show off the money as a Rockefeller and it might feel powerful to act like you got lots of cash and it might feel great this ‘I-can-afford-it-all-luxury’.  And probably it does feel great, powerful and cool but after all you will go home having spent ten times as much as you should!  So apart from the fact that all the other travelers have to pay the price for that behavior…  we ask ourselves: how cool, powerful and great do you really feel when you get home and realize that this village has been threating you like unknowing fools and you have been paying their outrageous prices as tame silly gringos?

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Our recommendations:  San Juan del Sur is a nice surf spot but compare rates and find the better option instead of paying the highest price / Hostel Nina is nice and clean but for the same price you will find better ambient / If you like to cook, bring the food with you because the supermarkets are very expensive / find a group to organize transports or activities so there might be a chance to discuss prices

Categories: Nicaragua | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Ometepe, Nicaragua island adventures…

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01-04/10/2013

If you travel through Nicaragua, there are countless itineraries offering numerous options, still one thing is inevitable, you will pass the Lake Nicaragua. The lake has the 19th place in the world-lake-list and with the 8264km2 surface is the largest in Central America hosting a total of 310 islands.  So instead of standing at the shore and watching this vast pool, we decide to spend some days on the island of Ometepe and check out the island life.  Ometepe is the only island in the world with two volcanoes (volcano Concepción and volcano Maderas, this last with a swimmable crater lake) in the middle of a freshwater lake, which was by the way recently named a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. So it has just three roads: one around each volcano and one that connect both.  Beautiful beaches, traditions, archaeological treasures, landscapes, monkeys and exotic birds are waiting for us in this destination of wonders in the province of Rivas.  We take the bus from Granada to Rivas center for 30 Cordoba each and from there a taxi at 20 C$ to the harbor.  The ferry costs 90C$ + 10C$ tax for cleaning the island and the maintenance of the island.  So all together we pay 240C$ for the both of us starting from Granada till putting feet on Ometepe.

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We find a nice, cozy and probably one of the most economic (250C$ priv.room+kitchen&fridge for free use) hostels in the harbor village of Moyogalpa, ‘hostel Ibesa’ named and run by a friendly couple always willing to enlighten us about all visits and activities on the island.  Just as we arrive and drop our backpacks they let us use two bikes so we can have a sunset at ‘Punta Jesus Maria’, a bit more than two kilometers out of town.  It is quite a ride, we even cross an airstrip, and we take a small dust/mud track to the viewpoint.  We are just on time, the sun is about to touch the horizon.  Amazing colors are filling the sky and each cloud is getting painted by another tint between yellow and purple, with all the kinds of red in between. We can’t believe our eyes as we get a double tread: the sky and its reflection on the motionless freshwater lake surface.  Faster and faster the sun hides as colors gets more intense.  Some locals are fishing tiny fishes at the shore and they don’t seem very impressed by this nature’s spectacle.  It gets darker and darker and a strong high-frequency buzzing, from distance hearable, sound makes us alert that we should leave as fast as possible.  It is mosquito’s happy hour and around a tree are swarming literally millions of them.  We run hard passing through the dark dense bug cloud to our bike and the little bastards are flying against our arms, legs and faces.  It is a bug strike!  We bike fast and get home at 19:30 when everything is already pitch black and there is no other way than using car- and motorcycle lights as a reference. 

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After a first good night we wake up and hitchhike to ‘El Ojo del Agua’, a natural area where a river provides constantly fresh water to different basins, which is perfect to swim and (according islands beliefs) to heal all kind of health issues.  The sun heats our body while our feet in the cold water balance the temperature under our skin.  At the same area we climb a ‘mirador’ to have a beautiful view over the Conceptión Volcano and the local evergreen banana plantations.  In the evening we hitchhike back to El Quino, where starts the road around volcano Concepción, and from there we take the bus to Moyogalpa.

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Another sunrise and another day is born.  Ometepe isn’t exactly a very big island (276km2) so we rent a scooter (500C$) to visit the whole island, and its lacustrine beaches, volcanos, waterfalls and small villages.  Soon it becomes clear that this will be impossible, and believe us, we went further any scooter has ever been!  Streets getting smaller and dustier and every few meter more stones and rocks are sticking out of the road surface till there is nothing more than just rocks.  Our scooter does the best it can but has no chance against this cruel soil.  Direction Merida it jumps on and off stones and there are no motocross suspension to protect the engine and once passing Alta Gracia sand is a new enemy as our vehicle tires disappear every once in a while.  We have a great time and really enjoy our Paris-Dakar experience, visit Charco Verde and some of the villages but we’re not really getting anywhere.  So we decide to bring back the scooter before it gets broke and before our time limit pass by.  And decide to take the bus tomorrow to Merida in order to see and shower at the waterfalls.

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We cook in the hotel together with Andres and Marcos (which we met all over the travel since Guatemala and start to be good friends now) and fall asleep dreaming of tropic waterfalls.  We wake up early for a long day of joy and pleasure, prepare a pick-nick and get at the bus stop at 7:45 to catch the 8 o’clock around-the-island-bus.  At 8:15 we get informed that there is no more such bus in the morning so we take a minibus till El Quino, there we hitch hike to ‘Ojos del Agua’, from there after some time till Santa Cruz, where we get out of luck.  No cars passing this bad road so we walk and walk and walk totally till Merida!  A three hour up-hill, down-hill hike under the midday sun on a very humid island is our destination.  Death seems to lurk behind the next corner as vultures are circling high above us in the cloudless sky.  So we take a rest at the waterside, empty the lunchbox and hydrate as much we can.  We realize that the road to San Ramon is at least another two hours walking and from there starts a muddy up-hill adventure to the San Ramon waterfalls.  And we still have to get back!  So we just read a bit and relax, convinced that we will see much other waterfalls during our journey.  We walk all the way back to the road (no cars pass by to raise a thump) and there we do see cars pass by but the few cars that stop to give us a ride are asking money for the trip.  After an endless day of walking, Ometepe invites us now on an endless afternoon of auto stop with no success.  And just when the sun starts to fade between the trees we get finally our free ride, in the back of a pick-up truck, straight to Moyogalpa.

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The last evening on this beautiful island, we share stories with some other hostel guests, Andre and Marco. Those last two were celebrating Marco’s birthday the night before with lots of rum and beer.  A night in which Marcos got “violated” by a lap dancing hooker and funny enough Andre had to pay a local policeman who works together with the pleasure lady in question to rip off tourists.  We had big laughs about it but still, we want to warn all our readers/travelers… you never get a lap dance for free!!!

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Our recommendations:

The hostel Ibesa is clean, gives lots of services and is cheap / Hitch-hiking might be fun but not easy and sometimes it is just losing precious time: you easily spend half day trying for 2okm / Check and double check bus times as they change often / Renting a decent motor instead of a scooter is a bit more expensive but takes you everywhere

Categories: Nicaragua | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

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