Nicaragua is one of those countries where I got a bad impression and negative vibe right from the border (that feeling you get when people look at you like a bag of golden coins). The more I spent here, the more I was convinced about it. Nicaragua is a holiday destination, and tourists are considerably contributing to the country’s budget, therefore, if you’re a tourist, you definitely MUST have money! Also, compared to other Latin countries so far, this one seems to lack any traditional food, and the street food altogether. On one hand, I’m happy to see a clean country and not many annoying sellers, but sometimes I’d love to get some cheap warm food on the street (pupusas, tacos, or whatever). And mostly because the restaurants are quite expensive for the area – a main dish in the “restaurant” costs the same as a cheap restaurant in USA (about 10-15 USD).
My first stop in Nicaragua was Leon. A small colonial city I reached at night, with a few churches and a lot of people ready to party. Most of them coming or going to the beach. The central attraction of the city is the volcano boarding (and BigFoot hostel – a big, loud, badass party hostel which I avoided). If it wasn’t for volcano boarding, I wouldn’t have stopped in Leon, or met again Jasmijn and Marieke. As small as the city is, the world is even smaller. I also met Vince and Kitten, friends from Utila, Honduras, wandering the streets of Leon. Volcano boarding is overrated, and increasing the speed of descent is really out of your control (but yeah, sure, you can break or go slow). However, the experience is quite unique… who else can say I’ve slid down a volcano?! For sure Jasmijn, who went on the same day and even got some light bruises as a reminder. Since her travel partner, Marieke, took a shorter path South, we decided to travel together for the few days she’s got left in Nicaragua. Therefore, we left from Leon to Granada on different days but ended up in the same hostel.
Granada is a bigger city, with nicer houses and a little more history to it as colonial city. Probably the first documented European city in Central America, Granada has plenty of places to go or things to see. Start with the city tour if you missed the European style walking areas and maybe even the churches. If the hotness of the day is not enough for you, there’s an active volcano to hike at night and see the lava. We chose to hike the dormant volcano of Mumbacho, guarding the city of Granada – a ‘pleasant’ hike up on a steep paved road where only trucks (22$/person) or 4x4s were allowed. Another way of unnecessarily charging tourists. The 22USD for a truck ride was too much to even consider it, but also wouldn’t allow me to take the motorcycle. Well, I needed to be reminded about “the leg day”.
A local story says that when volcano Apoyo near Granada erupted, the force was so strong that the top flew all the way into lake Nicaragua, creating 365 islands, one for each day of the year. Maybe 1000 fishermen live now on these islands, and a few protected monkeys. So we took a boat ride to check some them out – 5$ well spend on an hour (slow) boat ride. We could see a lot more islands from the top of the volcano Mumbacho. I was also curious about the volcano that created the island. So one morning I rode to Laguna de Apoyo, a nice volcanic lake with a few hostels around – a perfect destination to relax, swim, read a book and… go back to step one – see how much it takes to bore you.
From Granada, me and Jasmijn went separate ways for a few days. I went to the beach, to Playa Popoyo, to try some surfing while she went to relax a bit on another beach further South. As I finish writing this update, she’s standing across the table writing her blog entry – but I tell you more on how we met again in the next post. Or how Tinkerbell failed for the first time. Come back soon!
Whole journey map