A solitary panga anchored off Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.
It sure was difficult leaving our new friends and the great meals in Nuevo Paraiso, Honduras but it was time to see what Nicaragua had to offer. So, we ‘bummed’ a ride back to Tegucigalpa, caught the next bus to Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, and finally a taxi to Granada our first destination. Granada is another colonial style city on the shore of Lago de Nicaragua. From Granada we took a ferry to Isla de Ometepe, a volcanic island. This beautiful island is like taking a step back in time; ox carts and horses are used extensively to perform daily chores. From Isla de Ometepe, another ferry to San Jorge on the mainland and then on to Costa Rica. But that is a different update.
After Costa Rica we returned to Nicaragua to visit Leon. Leon is a vibrant, relatively large colonial city. In Leon we were able to get some insight into the daily lives of Nicaraguans.
Overall, we found the Nicaraguan people very friendly, except for the taxi drivers, and the country beautiful and diverse. Look out though! Century 21 and ReMax were already in Granada and land prices were on the way up!
Graffiti at our hostel
After a long day of travel, first by bus and then by taxi we arrived in Granada. We met another couple on the bus headed for Granada and decided to share a taxi. We negotiated a price and set off for Granada. But, before we could find a suitable place to stay we had to re-negotiate (argue?) with our taxi driver on the price for our trip. This was our first bad taxi driver experience, but as we found out the norm in Nicaragua. It sure made Pat cranky!
The graffiti was awesome.
Granada is a relatively small colonial city located on the shores of Lago de Nicaragua. The city felt safe and could be explored in an afternoon of walking. It was easy to see why many ex-pats had decided to settle here, which of course begets an increase in land prices. Are California prices far behind?
Left: The churches in Granada were especially pretty and well maintained. This church, one of many in Granada, caught our eye as we were looking for a restaurant called The Third Eye. Ummmmm. Food! Very good food!
We were lucky(?) enough to be in Granada for the Running of the Bull(s). Poorly organized, with only 2 bulls set free, one at the time. The event started with a parade including Nica Cowboys on horses and decorated trucks . The woman in the photo, below right, caught us taking her picture and yelled in English: ” Hey, pretty cool event, I’m from New York. Where are you from?” Well, so much for taking pictures of the locals.
The crowd begins to retreat as the poor bull is released. As the bull passed us a young guy pushed Pat up against a pillar while another guy tried to lift Pat’s wallet. Fortunately, Pat escaped before they could remove the wallet. Close call!
After 3 days in Granada it was time to move on. We decide to take the 5 hour ferry ride from Granada to Isle de Ometepe. Carrie, fully laden with her backpack, walks down the pier towards the ferry.
Isle de Ometepe is a large volcanic island bookended by 2 large volcanos. One is still active. We took this picture from the ferry, the top of the volcano covered in clouds.
Once docked, we took a 1 hour mini-bus ride over rough dirt roads to the Isthmus where we hoped to get a room at El Encanto. Well, El Encanto only has 4 rooms and they were full. So, back in the bus for a short ride to another Hostel. We were able to get into El Encanto the next day.
This model of the island was located in the town of Moyogalpa. Moyogalpa is a port town on the island where we took another ferry back to the mainland.
We were able to do a lot of hiking during our stay at El Encanto which can be pretty exhuasting! Carrie is caught relaxing after an especially grueling hike.
Islanders preparing for a day ‘at the office’. Hopefully catching the main course for today’s meals.
From Costa Rica, another long bus ride lands us in Leon. Leon, a large colonial town, was once the capital of Nicaragua, and is still the center of cultural activity. As always, the churches are beautiful and very old. We think it was called the Yellow Church. Go figure!
The really cool thing about Leon is that it’s not just a tourist town, but rather a working town, a university town, deeply connected to the past. A typical intersection in Leon! All forms of transportation are utilized to get the job done.
Parque Central in Leon, as always dominated by the church.
While having a beer at a sidewalk cafe, a woman introduced herself and offered to show us around her city. A lifetime resident of Leon, she was able to show many off the beaten path spots like the Museo de Tortura. Weird place! The walls documenting the torture endured by locals during the last regime, fronted by caricatures of local legends. Very, very weird!
More incredible wall art. This painting depicts a Sandanisto soldier crushing a caricature of Uncle Sam.
The Nicaraguan version of Kent State in the USA. Ten years before Kent State, 4 students in Leon were killed in Leon protesting conditions in Nicaragua.
We were in Leon just before the national elections. We ran into this parade of PRN supporters, red banners flying, one day while walking. Carrie, coincidentally, had a red blouse on.
All the young kids in Leon wanted their picture taken. This photogenic young man, on a school field trip, was visiting Leon from Managua. He may be the next Antonio Banderas! What do you think???
We stayed at the small family owned Hostel Clinica. We were lucky enough to be invited to the daughter’s 12th birthday party. The music was loud, with much dancing. A round of musical chairs was won by the guest of honor. The next Shakira?
Maybe we can hook up the next Antonio Bandaras with the next Shakira!