02.07.2016 - 09.07.2016
So we made it back to San Jose, and then onwards in to Nicaragua, reasonably pain free... Except the 3 hour line to get out of Costa Rica, and the Nicaraguan entry process which was complete chaos, including lines of shouting people (as our whole bus got to skip to the front of the customs line)
From the border we had a short bus ride to Rivas, where we were allowed to get off, and negotiate an over priced taxi to the edge of Lake Nicaragua to the ferry to get out to the island - Ometepe, which is made of twin active volcanoes. Luckily we had swapped our $20NZD of Costa Rican money to Nicaraguan money on the border, as we didn't find an ATM until we reached the island - and so paying for the taxi, lunch and ferry would have been pretty tricky!
When we got out to Ometepe we were quickly swamped by people who wanted us to go and stay at their hostel (we had been travelling for 12 hours at this point) - so we ignored them all and went for our own wander around. Eventually we settled on a hostel for the night (with the plan to move further around the island the next day). Unfortunately (or fortunately) within 30minutes of being in the room, we noticed there were bed bugs, and so were promptly moved. A lucky escape I think..
Next morning we headed out to the small "village" of Santa Cruz on a chicken bus. While trying to get on said chicken bus with my pack on, I managed to hit my pack on the door frame, causing me to fall backwards, back out of the bus, and scraped the whole front of my shin pretty hard - instant swelling, loss of sensation to an area of skin. Now the swelling has gone down, there isn't even much bruising to show for it!
On this bus we met a professional photographer, who convinced us to get off the bus at Santa Cruz - this wasn't our original destination. But he promised the best sunset on the island, and who were we to argue!
Our hostel certainly did have a pretty sweet view of one of the volcanoes and some perfectly aligned hammocks - optimising breeze and volcano view for a few days of serious book reading. Sunset was pretty epic too - we were so caught up in watching it we failed to get any photos!
We even got our first sleep in since Buenos Aires, which was pretty amazing too.
For our only island based activity we decided to walk along the beach to the Ojo de Agua - a natural spring of water for a swim
The walk was extremely hot, and slightly further than we expected - meaning we wished for our hats and sunscreen.. but when we arrived getting in the lovely clear water was amazing. There was a slack line set up here too, so Richard tried his hand at this, until he fell in and landed on a rock
We managed to get a chicken bus about halfway home, saving us from the heat too..
So after a few days we were feeling very much alive again and travel ready, so decided to head back to the mainland and check out Granada - a small colonial town that people seem to love.
So boat, taxi, chicken bus, walk combo and we found our hostel in Granada.
Holy moly it was hot in Granada, and even worse in our dorm room. First impressions of Granada was boredom. We walked around the whole town in about an hour, and left with no idea what people do here. Yes its pretty, but so are lots of other places.
Unfortunately that night Richard didn't sleep more than an hour due to the heat.
So the next day we got ourselves on a shuttle out to Lago de Apoyo - a nearby crater lake for a day of swimming. This was by far the best idea yet - the water was cool and clear. We had a great day swimming, having diving competitions from the swimming platform, kayaking, playing cards and reading.
Short rain shower, coming across the lake
Getting back to town was pretty hilarious though - we waited for our shuttle at 4pm, and sure enough someone turned up and waved us in, so in we hopped without question, and began ascending out of the crater. At the top of the crater we saw a van drive past with our shuttle company logo on it, and realised that perhaps we were in the wrong vehicle - quickly confirmed by the cross driver who had to now take us all the way back down again to catch our actual ride! ops!
Once we got back to town we had a quick turn around to head out to volcan Masaya - an actually active volcano, where you can see real lava (for the last 3 months the lava lake has been getting bigger and bigger)
We weren't quite sure what we were in for, as each car load is sent up in groups, and only gets 15-20 minutes at the top before being sent down again.
It was pretty epic, photos don't do it justice...
The following morning we decided we'd had enough of Granada and to head to Leon, which everyone seems to love. Following a bus, shuttle, cycle taxi combo we again arrived at our hostel - this time with A/C.
We spent the afternoon wandering around town, and again within an hour began to wonder what on earth people do here. We decided the volcano boarding sounded like an expensive 30seconds, and is not worth it...
Overall Nicaragua has not lived up to our expectations. The island was nice (and the highlight of Nicaragua), but not a highlight of the trip. The towns we have visited were pretty boring, and though swimming in the crater lake was nice, its something that one can do anywhere..
On that note, we have decided to cut our time here short and boost through to the Bay Islands in Honduras, in the hope of finding something more interesting to do...