Nicaragua March 10-25th, 2008
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We recently returned from a trip to Nicaragua and it is a destination that we hope to return to in the near future.
While planning our trip, everyone questioned "why" we would choose to go to Nicaragua. Not being travellers that enjoy the resort mentality of seeing the world, it was the ideal choice.
Now having explored many of it's wonders, we yearn to return. Although poverty is abundant, and street kids roam the streets everywhere, we never felt the least bit uncomfortable or threatened. The people were extremely friendly and eager to help us share in the spirit and beauty of their homeland.
We flew from Alberta, Canada into Liberia, Costa Rica. Crossing the border over into Nicaragua was an experience in itself. Thus with the pilgramage for Easter being at the same time, the kaos was 10x the norm.
San Juan del Sur on the Pacific Coast was beautiful, but still not a place that made us hesitant to leave. After a couple of days there, we went to Rivas, and caught the ferry over to the Isla of Ometepe. Prior to boarding the ferry, numerous eager Nicas were trying to convince us to prepay for our taxi on the other end. Getting caught up in all the confusion, and not sure what to do, we noticed a little travel information booth. We are so glad we went to seek further information. Carla was an incredible source of information as well as a delightful lady.
This island is in the middle of Lake Cocibolca and there are two large volcanoes that created the isle itself. There is much to see and do here. We stayed in the smaller village of Merida. A good hike from here took us up the Maderas volcano to see Cascada San Ramon. The waterfall wasn't as magnificant as it can be as March is the dry season. It was still an enjoyable way to spend a day, hiking and seeing the tropical birds and howler monkeys in their natural habitat.
A few days later, we left the Isla and ventured back to the mainland and the city of Granada. This colonial city has charm and character. We were greeted by very poor but friendly people who were anxious to say hello. With poverty being the norm, there were numerous street kids whom were abandoned by their parents as they could not afford to keep them. These little souls will always have a spot in our hearts. It was with tears we left them behind. Not once did we feel pressured or threatened even though we must have posed as an easy target for a nation of people who have very little.
A relaxing afternoon outside the city of Granada was spent swimming at Apoyo Lagoon. It is the largest volcanic lagoon in Nicaragua. Although the beach area is extremely rocky, the water was warm and the scenery was awesome. There is a quaint place there called The Monkey Tree. They charge a $6 entry fee to use their facilities for the day. This fee includes tubes, kayaks, the dock, their kitchen facilities, etc.
The next evening was a brief visit to Managua, where a nice taxi driver by the name of Vidal was eager to show us the sites of the city. Early the next morning we caught our flight to Big Corn Island. A note to anyone flying there. There is no guarantee you and your luggage will be on the same flight. However, it does show up eventually as they alter weights for the planes. We managed to get ours about 7 hrs later, and it was all in one piece. When leaving, you need to stress that your luggage should accompany you on the same flight if you have connections to make to other destinations.
Big Corn Island offered many treasures. The snorkeling was good and one only had to swim about 200 yrds offshore to reach the reef. We lucked into staying at Martha's Bed and Breakfast on the south-west beach. After spending a day walking around the island, we appreciated how lucky we were to have gotten a room there only because someone else had cancelled. The beach and rooms there are the cleanest, the owners extremely friendly, and the best food on the island by far. Martha and Elery made us feel like family. Their staff share in their delight to run a great little business and it is apparent that they are all eager to help one another as they perform their daily routines.
Vidal met us at the airport when we returned from Big Corn and drove us to the border of Costa Rica. The pilgrimage for the holidays made it impossible to try and get a bus. It was a friendly trip and his brother accompanied us so he would have company on the return to Managua.
Although it was a powertrip and we didn't get to see all of the places we wanted, we will return time and again to learn more about this incredible country and it's people.
Our last night was spent in Liberia, Costa Rica. We didn't get to explore a lot of this city as we had difficulty trying to locate a little map that would list the places to see and go. But we did explore the central part of the city and bought beautiful souveniers.
Now we are back to reality and eager to plan our next travel destination. Although we definately hope to return to Nicaragua, the list of other destinations beckons us as well. We may have to throw names in a hat and pick one :)