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Category: Nicaragua

Rest day with a swim

Rest day with a swim

So I intended to sleep in this morning but I sort of passed out by 8:30 last night, so I was wide awake by 7:00.. I guess that’s still sleeping in? The mornings here are cool and beautiful, and it’s fun to watch the school kids trickle in. I learned a bit more about the school here. The man who started it is Nicaraguan and has built it out of recycled 1.5 liter water bottles filled with certain kinds of waste. He started a program where villagers can bring these bottles filled with non-organic litter and he gives them money for them. It helps people of the community while cleaning up the town as well, and gives the kids a school! Pretty innovative!

Recycled trash to build the school
Recycled trash to build the school

I spent the morning wandering around the Hacienda/school grounds, catching up with family and updating this websites. Oh, and I made friends with a puppy.. The boys occupied their time figuring out border crossing logistics and fiddling with Sam’s bike.

Bike geeks
Bike geeks
Yes, there is a puppy at the Hacienda
Yes, there is a puppy at the Hacienda

For lunch we headed back toward the middle of the island to find an affordable place to eat before swimming at the freshwater springs called “ojo de agua”. A few places we checked were priced in U.S. Dollars, not a good sign, and definitely too pricey. We eventually found a decent place with good food. I’m definitely getting my fill of plantains! Yum!

We then headed to the springs, which were really nice. It’s a fresh water spring that comes up from the ground! We ran into another American motorcyclist that Sam and Evans met in Guatemala. He is heading south too, so maybe we’ll cross paths again down the road.

There was a slack line across the pool which we spent a good amount of time horsing around on. It was really nice to just float around the pool and stare up at the big trees.

Evans trying...
Evans trying…
Aaand he's down!
Aaand he’s down!

We headed back to the Hacienda down the dirt and rocky roads. I am starting to get more comfortable with dirt roads and riding through water. It’s actually feeling kind of fun! I still have a lot to learn, though.

We spent the evening enjoying some cold beers while watching the sun set and listening to the monkeys hoot. Also, there are fire flies here! So cool! We discussed the next few weeks over dinner at the Hacienda. Evans and Sam are trying to find a reliable and cheap way to get from Panama to Columbia. I really hope they find a way that is close to when we cross. We have all agreed that it wouldn’t be a blast to explore Columbia and beyond together. At this point we already feel like old friends! Tomorrow we head into Costa Rica, so it’s going to be an early wake up to get across the lake in good time. ¡Buenas Noches amigos!

One last Nicaraguan sunset
One last Nicaraguan sunset
Climbing Volcán Madera

Climbing Volcán Madera

Today we went to climb a volcano. The island Ometepe consists of two volcanoes, Conception and Maderas. Conception looks like the perfect volcano from your favorite pirate story. You can climb it in 10 hours and look down at lava I’m the crater. Maderas is a bit smaller and covered with forest. There are really three micro climates with jungle at the bottom, tropical forest midway and rain forest closer to the top and on the crater. In the crater there is also a lake,   and the only species living there is a type of frog.

We decided to climb Maderas. Evans who had done the hike to both volcanoes years ago decided not to go so me Lise and Sam met up with our, Randol, and set off around 07.30.

Starting out towards Maderas
Starting out towards Maderas

 

The first hour or so we walked towards the volcano beside rice, corn, coffee and bean plantations. Soon we got on to a smaller trail and we gained some altitude. As we worked our way through the jungle over roots and mud the temperature gradually dropped and the forest got damper and damper. The trail also got steeper and steeper and after about two hours hike we were scrambling over roots and the trail felt vertical at times, taking short breaks and admiring the fantastic view of the island. We met two other tours the whole day, a young woman with a guide and a couple from California with their guide.

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About three hours into the hike we were really working hard and it felt like we were climbing the trees to follow the trail. It was like an Indiana Jones movie where we crawled through gateways made from roots and up impossible looking stairways with moss hanging from every branch.

Sam climbing
Sam climbing

And then suddenly it opened up and we were on the crest, surrounded by clouds.

At the top
At the top

Here the guide offered to take us down the crater to the lake. After a bit of discussion we decided not to do it because the extra time, one hour down and one up, might make us walk the last hour in darkness. So we had a soggy sandwich, rested a bit and started walking back. The trail back down was the same as the one we came up on, but going down was a totally different experience. Suddenly we were on a spiral stair case of roots and mud leading straight down and I found myself hanging from branches swinging my way down. After the first steep decent the rest of the decent consisted of roots,  slippery mud and rocks with moss on it,  that felt much more slippery coming down than climbing up.

Climbing down
Climbing down

Once down at more level ground the guide stopped and showed us some monkeys jumping around in the trees.  These monkeys were spider monkeys and they were very curious about who we were but also shy enough that catching them on a picture was pretty hard work. Further down the trail we found a family of howling monkeys eating leaves. They looked like smaller gorillas with tails, probably almost as tall as a short human if standing up. The guide made some grunting noise and the alpha male responded with growls and howls like if there was a monster from the deep abyss in the tree.

Spider monkey
Spider monkey
Howling monkey
Howling monkey

After this we were pretty close to the end of our hike and we were all pretty exhausted, including the guide.

We went back to the hotel after paying and saying bye to Randol, got our swimming pants on and dove into the lake. Then we had a beer and went for food at a Greek restaurant around the corner. Pretty unexpected but not bad food at all.

After going back to the hotel for some homemade coconut ice cream we were all pretty worn out.  Lise went to bed around eight and the rest of us will follow pretty soon I’m sure.

It has been one of the greatest days onthis tripso far and we are all full of impressions and new experiences.

Tomorrow will be a resting day. Or. . . ?

The fantastic four on the beach

The fantastic four on the beach

This morning our adventure group grew to double size! We were aiming for the beach in Pochomil with our new friends Evan and Sam! It felt great to travel as a team and it was very nice to see three bikes in the rear mirror positioned in a “w”  on the highway. The roads were great to Pochomil and soon we arrived in the little town. Evans had checked out a hostel run by Canadians and he led us down a rough dirt road towards the establishment. Unfortunately as it was low season the owners had decided to leave and the hostel was closed. A local told us that most places were closed but that there was one place close by that was still operating. After a short detour riding down on the beach to the ocean we rode back to find that the hotel recommended to us was a pretty worn down looking place. The guy in charge first offered us rooms for 50$ a piece but quickly accepted 25$ per room, which it was still not worth but we didn’t have much of a choice. And neither did he as we were the only guests there. The rooms had dirt on the floor and filthy toilets, although the bed clothes were clean and we did not find any bedbugs . We did have one unwelcome guest as we unpacked and a bat flew in through a hole in the ceiling, into the bathroom, back to the bedroom and out through the same hole. I quickly moved the misplaced ceiling tile and closed the way for future surprises. The whole air of the place kind of felt like a post apocalyptic movie, or like if someone just decided to suddenly just drop everything and leave. The vacuum cleaner for the pool was in the pool like someone was just taking a break from cleaning for a minute, but it was obvious that it had been there for weeks or months.

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We were hungry though and wanted sand under our feet so we took off by foot to walked along the beach in search for a beer and lunch. There were empty food places all along the beach but almost all of them were closed. We finally found a nice place with a nice view from an open second floor. We had a beer, looked at food prices and decided to go somewhere else. There must be crowds of tourists here other times of the year because food and rooms we’ve seen have been really expensive. We found a little restaurant further inland and had wonderful fresh fish and plantains for lunch, for a good price, around 3$ eaxh

After lunch we went for a dip in the ocean. The beach is really beautiful and huge,  and the water really pleasant and clear.

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Me and Sam decided we wanted to ride our bikes on the beach so after taking a quick shower we geared up and got on our bikes. Lise and Evans walked down to catch the sunset.

After the beach ride, that went well although it was a bit looser than expected, we went off to check out a dirt road shortcut for tomorrow’s ride. We pretty soon ended up in a puddle of mud as evening threw itself upon us. We quickly turned around in darkness and returned to the hotel to wash the bikes and report that there might be a better route for the morning. After this we sat in one of the cleaner corners of the hotel chatting for a while before daring ourselves to go back to the rooms for some rest .

Rest day in Leon

Rest day in Leon

What better way to spend a Sunday than resting in Leon? We definitely needed a little down time after all the crazy border crossings. We woke up to the hostel dog (Ava) running laps around and barking at various things. I didn’t mind, she is still a puppy and I appreciate any canine contact I can get. Especially if it isn’t with a mangy pack of wilds ones hanging out at the border…

Ava, hostel pup!
Ava, hostel pup!

We decided to gather our stinky and still damp clothing and venture out to find a laundry place and then some breakfast. Our lovely hostel hostess pointed us towards both places. We dropped our clothes off and found a good and cheap breakfast place.  We then wandered around Leon taking a few pictures and exploring the city a bit. A lot of places were closed at it was Sunday. It has a few old and beautiful churches and a nice center square, but other than that, it seems that Leon is a hub for adventures outside of the city. Like surfing down the side of a volcano, or camping trips or surf trips.

Once back at the hostel we ran into our new friends Sam and Evans and planned to have dinner with them. It’s great to hang with fellow motorcyclists!

For lunch we had some bread, cheese and apples from the grocery store. It had been a while since reliable internet was available so we hung out at the hostel for the afternoon catching up on email and blogging. The hostel was really great. It’s run by a polish guy and Sri Lankan girl and is called Trail Winds. They also run a delicious restaraunt and were very welcoming to motorcyclists. We had a private room with a shared bathroom. It was clean and nice and super quiet at night.

For dinner we joined Evans and Sam for some street food barbecue. It was delicious! And there was way too much to eat! They had chicken, pork, beef, chorizo, and tons of things to go on the side: fries cheese, plantains, plantain con queso, and corn quesadillas. It was packed with locals, which is always a good sign.

Street food!
Street food!

We had a great time with our new found friends. Evans is from Quebec and Sam is from the U.K. Sam is definitely Dylan’s long lost twin. He even quit his job as a mailman to do this trip!

New gang!
New gang!

We decided to continue our travels as a group for a bit. So tomorrow we will head for the coast and stay in a little beach town called Pochamil. Maybe we’ll finally go for a swim in the Pacific!