We are off to El Salvador tomorrow so it’s goodbye to Nicaragua! Here are the remaining few awesome things we’ve been enjoying in this fantastic, magical and baffling country:
Little Corn Island is a TEENY and very rustic Caribbean island with no roads or vehicles and which doesn’t have electricity half the day. To get there we hopped aboard a cargo boat and set sail sat on a plank of wood among bags of flour and frijoles on our first Caribbean cruise! We spent a week eating coconut bread, rambling along the coast, splashing through the sea to find deserted beaches, lying in hammocks under palm trees and floating in turquoise waters. At times it felt a bit like we might be on a film set as everyone seemed too relaxed and picturesque to be real. People genuinely call each other ‘Miss Bridget’ or ‘Miss Pricilla’, wander the island barefoot, draw drinking water from wells, lounge in the shade of fishing boats and shout out through the tiny village whenever a new batch of patties or coconut bread is baked. It was probably the most beautiful place we’ve ever been. On our return journey from a larger island, the pilot of our 12 seater plane reassuringly said ‘Where am I supposed to be going?’ before clambering into the cockpit to fly us straight into a tropical rain storm. He was clearly channeling the relaxed attitude of island life.
Volcano boarding on Volcan Cerro Negro is FUN! The current record is 95km per hour, and this is the only place in the world you can do it. The tough part is carrying heavy boards and packs up the scree-covered trails to the top of the (very live) volcano, which is the second youngest in the world. The ground is noticeably warm and in places it literally steams from the volcanic activity. To get down the 45 degree, rock covered slope you have to put on a deeply flattering boiler suit, goggles, gloves, gangster face scarf and sit down toboggan-style to zoom all the way to the bottom, 400 meters below. We did not make anything like 95km per hour, but on the plus side, no broken bones!
These are ace things near Granada which I failed to blog about while we were actually living there…
Las Isletas are small islands on the lake which you can reach by a local ferry. This was a surreal experience involving a passionate romantic crooner, a clown, and tiny children clubbing a Cinderella-shaped piñata to death in between dancing to reggaeton music. The islands themselves are fun to hop between and drink coconut water on.
Laguna de Apoyo is a natural lake in a volcano crater, surrounded by jungle. At the weekends locals grab a chicken bus there and swim in the slightly salty mineral water (as well as drinking lots of tona beer). You can choose to pay $6 to enter posh hostels on the lake shore and use their kayaks, floats, lake platforms and deckchairs, or you can take the free option and perch on the public ‘beach’ on top of a spiky rock, being laughed at by locals for sitting in the sun and putting sunscreen on. Both options are great fun!
Day of the dead for Nicaraguans is celebrated on 2nd November. Huge numbers of people descend on the cemetery to clear, clean and decorate their family graves with flowers. It is a generally happy occasion, with candy floss sellers and oom-pah musicians doing a roaring trade as local boys carry spades and machetes around in the hope of being hired to clear gravestones. Although we were invited to the cemetery, we initially felt a bit awkward being there. However people were really friendly, welcoming and cheerful, and very keen to have their photos taken!
Ometepe Island is an island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, almost entirely consisting of 2 massive live volcanoes. It’s covered in jungle and is filled with huge mad-looking birds (a bit like peacocks but flying ones with smaller tails). We arrived at twilight and the pathway up to our hostel was lit by hundreds of fireflies, which was pretty idyllic! Our plan to hike up the volcano was called off due to mud-slides, so we spent a lot of time in hammocks watching the light change behind Volcan Concepcion (what a shame!).
*Pretty much all the photos I put on this blog are snapped with my crappy camera phone, so if you want to see some proper photos, check out Nick’s flickr*
Hasta la proxima!