Romancing the Stone
Esteli Travel Blog› entry 32 of 52 › view all entries
Rain in Esteli
I had imagined the city of Esteli a little different; like a larger mountain city; as something you could see from the distance, but to my surprise suddenly it was there and I was actually a bit uncertain that we were there already.
We had left Matagalpa in the morning and followed the main road connecting cities. The road was passing the huge lowland between the two large mountain ridges. The lowland had been really nice driving in and there had been very few cars. We first met cars when we entered the last 30 kilometres.
The city of Esteli was lying in a valley and as Matagalpa spread over a large area, with low houses and sheds all over.
After having seen the church in the distance, we turned right towards downtown and leaving the main road going to Somoto. We turned in order to find the hotel, which should be situated near Parque Central. This time we wanted a place with hot water especially after two days without it in Matagalpa. Much to our surprise EstelÃi turned out to be the first city on the trip so far that had street name signs which made it much easier to find our way, but anyway the church is a good point to start in Nicaragua.
The Casa Hotel Nicarao turned out to be quite okay; hot water and the rooms were fairly large, and the rate was 15$ per room per night. We took the rooms and tried to find a nearby parking so we could unload our stuff from the car to our rooms.
We found a parking close by and checked in at the hotel. I needed a haircut and found a hairdresser next to the hotel that did the job for 2$. The woman was sweet and spoke absolutely no English but we managed pretty well and having very short hair (close to nothing) she hardly could do something wrong. She was very thorough and she had nothing else to do. In the two following days I only saw one other customer, but naturally I did not do a stakeout on her premises.
After my head was almost polished, it started to rain a little. We postponed our trip to some of the national parks a little waiting for the rain to stop and used the time in the little yard in the middle of the hotel and which were covered with steel plates; which again resulted in an incredible noise. After 30 minutes it was done and we left for the national park; Are Protegida Cerro Tisey-Estanzuela.
The way to the National Park was indicated at the entrance of EstelÃ so we went back and entered a dry dirt road. Much to my surprise it looked like it had only rained in the city centre. The road was fair but was pretty steep some places.
After some 30 minutes on the bumpy road we saw a gate on the left side of the road and it said something about a national park. There was an old smiling cowboy lacking some of his front teeth. Babs asked if we were on the right way and how far it would be. We got a big smile from him when he looked at the car! No so far he said and told that where he was standing was towards another attraction; a waterfall.
Our Yaris was not the best car in this kind of terrain so he was right in his smile, but much to my surprise we caught up with an old bus driving the same route after yet another 10 kilometres of driving.
We took it easy and followed the spectacles of the bus; we had a hard time driving in the Toyota but still the bus managed to drive upwards and show us the best way to tackle the obstacles. At one point the bus stopped and a guy was picking up his wife and child at the road; at that point I noticed that he had brought a huge black piece of plastic. He knew something we didnâ��t know; I was thinking.
In a split second the weather turned to worse without going to bad first; clouds made it impossible to see anything and we gave up reaching for the main entrance and the supposed stunning view at Mirador de Tisey trail that was our goal.
The new goal was set on a new target the Salto Estanzuela, which is a 36 meter waterfall that the old cowboy said he was guarding the gate for. After a 30 minutes drive we were finally back at the gate to the place, it had started to rain and our smiling friend. At that point we started to get really happy about our decision to turn around.
We turned the car towards the gate at the entrance for the waterfall and the old guy went out in the rain and let us in. At the shed they were hiding in we asked the 3 guys if we could bring the car down to the waterfall and like on commando, they all had said Noooo at the same time shaking their heads from side to side.
It had now started to rain even more and we could not stop laughing; we parked the car and put on our rain jackets for the one kilometre walk in to the terrain towards the waterfall.
We started the descent and quickly saw that the 3 guys in the shed were more than right; it would have been impossible to drive down there; there were huge rocks and the road (or what it was), fell 25 meters in less than 100 meters.
Suddenly the rain started pounding and we looked at each other; it would be no match to get down and instantly got a picture of Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in the American action-adventure romantic comedy; Romancing the Stone from 1984. I had no intent in casting for the scene where they slide down in the jungle more than 25 years to late, so we had to give up getting there too.
It was completely nonsense to walk in this rain and the trail was wet and slippery; getting down was one thing but getting up again would be a total different story.
We went back to the car looking like two drowned mice, wet all over. We turned the car around wondering if we could manage the return trip along the dirt road that had gotten slippery with water running along the road like small creeks. The 3 guys at the gate laughed at us and waved goodbye.
Mostly because we were going down almost all the way we managed the return to EstelÃ in the rain. It turned out that the city was under water or at least some of the road crosses were completely flooded. We were driving very slowly in steel coloured Yaris, and we had to follow the locals in order to see if it was safe to drive cross any given street.
Back at the hotel it was time to change clothes and get a (hot) shower.
After having gotten dry clothes on we again waited in the patio of the hotel while the rain hammered on the steel plates. I decided to try the Nacatamales; which was a mixed small dish cooked in banana leafs and it turned out to be really good.
The rain didn't really stop and the sky was totally grey all the time, but we decided to check out the city anyhow. The rain had got weaker after a while and finally stopped after further 50 minutes.
We were really happy when it finally stopped but then we had the next surprise; billions of flies where hatched and there were everywhere; where are the birds and the geckos when you needed then.
We I took my clothes of after the very humid walk I had fly wings everywhere on my body. Looking in the mirror I was quite surprised how many wings I had on me. Seconds later I started to wonder where all the bodies of the flies had gone because it was only wings I could see.
After yet another shower we had our lazy time and agreed to meet up at 7.30 pm for an apero before going for a Cuban restaurant. There was a Cuban restaurant just around the corner which had been recommended by Lonely Planet but the Cuban place turned out to be closed.
The restaurant was primitive but the owner and his wife were really sweet people. The food was okay and they served some local Nicaraguan wine produced in the highland that was quite funny to taste. As usual at 10 pm everything closed and we had to return to the hotel and hope we could get in.