Final ‘Latin-style’ destination – days 293-297

So, after no sleep and a few beers I decided to try and get to Nicaragua. I took a taxi to the bus station but once I arrived another taxi driver insisted I was in the wrong place. Stupidly I didn’t argue with him and next thing we were flying down a dual carriage way with my clinging to the seat. I had mentioned my lack of funds, but that didn’t appear a problem until I gave him $2 plus some Costa Rican colons, possibly bringing it to $3 in total, way beneath the $20 he was trying to demand. I shook my head at him, flagged the bus that was just passing (good timing) and settled down to sleep until we reached the border. I felt like I’d started the day well by stopping someone taking advantage of me, but that was all to change. Naturally.

You leave Costa Rica through a town called Peñas Blancas. For the first time in a long time I had to pay an exit charge, I then walked through no mans land, got ripped off by a guy selling immigration cards, got charged double on the bus to Rivas, got charged by a guy who had wrestled my rucksack off me, and then I arrived in Rivas the heavens had just opened. Torrential monsoon downpour. Typical.

After the fifth person had refused to tell me what time the bus to the port was, I negotiated a taxi instead. I’d done really well until the driver decided to take advantage of my shaky Spanish, spin me a story of lanches and ferries and fares and ports, and somehow con me into paying way more for essentially the same journey. After that one win in Costa Rica the day was going downhill. Rapidly.

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My end destination was Isla de Ometepe, a volcanic island in the middle of Largo Nicaragua. On the boat/ferry/lance/whatever over I met Sebastian, from Norway, and Mila, from Czech Republic.

I only had four nights in Nicaragua (luckily I had noticed my flight was a day earlier than I’d planned for) so I was going to spend two on the island before heading to the Atlantic coast for Sunday Funday (a massive gringo party, think Koh Phangan-esque).

This… didn’t happen. I remembered I could get drunk at home, that travelling in Nicaragua was stressful, and noticed that I absolutely loved Isla de Ometepe. So I stayed put for four nights on the southern part of the island, in a town called Balgue. We found a small, family run hostel called the Lazy Crab, bought some rum, and settled in. The island is made up of two volcanoes, one is a perfect cone shape and still active, Volcan Concepcion, and one is slightly smaller and asymmetrical, this has a lake in the crater, Volcan Maderas. As we were staying at the base of the latter we decided to climb that one.

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First we had a day renting bikes and cycling to Playa Santo Domingo which ended up being the perfect place to watch the crazy weather. A storm had brewed with strong winds and virtually no visability, but what seemed like minutes later everything had cleared and we were back to sunbathing again. Talk about changeable.

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Then the day for volcano climbing arrived. Sebastian had opted out as Germany were playing, so Mila and I headed off just after sunrise. I’d really wanted to do more trekking since Ecuador, I just hadn’t managed to, but gosh this was a bad choice for my one last attempt. For the first hour and a half I was pretty much just sweating out rum, very attractive. I was convinced it was the humidity and was kicking myself for not bringing enough water.

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Eventually that passed and I felt less like giving up and hiding in a bush for a nap. Then we reached the muddy bit. And muddy is an understatement. This coupled with the fact I am vertically challenged led to many falls before we reached the crater lake where there was no visibility. It looked like something out of Harry Potter, I half expected to see dementors! The way down was slightly better as the Howler monkeys were out in force. The males make the funniest noises (youtube them) and they were all more interested in us that the other way round. It was like a series of CCTV cameras through the forest, following our every move, whilst vying for the best seat in the cinema. Of course we got lost on the descent, emerging from the forest far from where we had entered.

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I felt a sense of accomplishment, I wished I had time to climb Volcan Concepcion as well, but I did not enjoy the climb. I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t done it though.

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I had one day left before the three day trip back to Vancouver, luckily for me the weather was perfect (a little windy) and I just lay on the beach and read. I was determined not to go back as pale as I had left – even if that was still pale compared to other people.

The journey back to San Jose for my flight was a little less stressful. A bus at 5am back to the port in Moyogalpa, a ferry back to San Jorge, a taxi to Rivas (only $1 each this time!), a bus to the border, and then a bus back to San Jose.

Part one of three was over.

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