Costa Rica is for adrenaline junkies. My first stop was La Fortuna. There is an active volcano there and I wanted to see the lava bursts at night. Not only did I not see the top of the volcano, I did not see the bottom either. It rained the entire time I was there. Aside from the volcano it is a big adventure sport center. Zip lines, bungee jumps, cloud forest hikes etc. Nothing I wanted to do in the rain. Moved to Monteverde. More of the same, only bigger and better (including the rain). Here they have the fastest zip lines, biggest bungee jumps, white water rafting and much much more. Again, nothing I wanted to do in the rain. I did go on a night walk, in the rain. We saw a green viper snake, some leaf cutter ants, some cool frogs and birds way up in the trees….so could only really see some color. Left there – hairy, scary little mountain roads, spent a whole day on a bus to get to the Caribbean coast. Of course I was expecting that lovely blue water, but here the water is brown. There are so many rivers that run off into the sea, makes for lots of silt. The sand is black – pretty neat. Costa Rica is so green – likely because of all the rain. I did take a tour of a jaguar sanctuary. They do not have any jaguars at this time, but they have sloths, monkeys, ocelots and many birds. This sanctuary works to return every rescue to their natural habitat. While there I did see on one of the red eyed green tree frogs . Their belly is yellow and blue! This area has huge banana plantations. Each plantation would appear to have its own housing for workers. The bananas are covered with blue plastic bags while they are on the tree – then I see picked while they are green, and hung under cover. I just found out the plastic bags are to protect them from the sun, bugs, and critters. Aside from the rain, this is not one of my favorite countries of this trip. It is far too developed for me. On to Panama.
Granada is a wonderful Colonial city in Nicaragua and it is small enough to walk to all of the sights if you are ambitious. Churches are the attractions and they are old and wonderful. I managed to see all of the famous ones during my visit. One rainy day I was looking at one of them and saw a side door open. I went in and was the only one there. Had a wonderful time looking around until I heard the door closing. I don’t know who was more startled, me, or the fellow locking the door – he had not seen me inside. Most of these churches have been destroyed and rebuilt several times.
Granada is also a city of color. Often as I walked down a street I would have to stop to admire the colors. Houses are built right up to the sidewalk, and when you walk past you are often looking right into someone’s living room. In the evening it is common for people to just move a couple of chairs out onto the sidewalk, and visit with neighbors and people walking past. Horse drawn carriage tours are a big attraction – horses are so thin, and they, and the carriages are often decorated with big florist bows. Pretty weird to me. One day when I was out walking I went past a funeral home. The door was open showing the caskets for sale, and beside the building was the fancy old horse drawn hearse. The next day I happened to walk past a church where it was being used for a funeral. The horses were draped in black lace. My last morning there I crossed another thing off my bucket list – zip lining. It was so much fun to fly through the air with the greatest of easy. Been there, done that – and I got the hat! Click on the Facebook link on my website for more Granada pics.
The Corn Islands are two islands on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua. I had heard lots of good things about Little Corn Island and any place with a beach always appeals to me. I flew from Managu as I had heard horror stories of the overland trip to Bluefields, then a very long rough boat ride. Flight goes to Big Corn Island and from there you take a panga to Little Corn. The island was much bigger than I expected and the beaches were small and isolated. It was a funky place to spend a few days. I went fishing with a young couple from Canada, captain was impressed I knew how to bottom fish and I caught quite a few. Back In Managua I took a bus to Granada – that city deserves its own post – and then to an island in a lake.
The island of Ometepe is formed from two volcanos. It was too bad its rainy season, so the tops were always cloud covered. I took a boat that cost $. 40 for a ride lasting more than an hour. As you boarded you had to print your name, age, and nationality. I know it was so they could identify the bodies when this thing sank. It was the perfect example of the boats you see on the news “Marine Disaster – hundreds killed”. There were not enough seats, so I had to stand. I felt something crawling up my leg – big cockroach! The village here was nice and small, and I took a bus around the volcano to the village on the other side. The countryside is lush and green. Big cattle farms with healthy looking cattle and horses. I bought a whole watermelon for 40 cents – and it was so good.
Leon had some wonderful old colonial architecture. The Cathedral is being refinished, and the part that is done is brilliant white. There was a heat wave when I was there, and it was hot even for me. I decided I would take a 2 hour bus trip to a small city in the highlands where coffee is grown. Once again a $ .60 bus trip. I was pleasantly surprised to see this country cleans up trash along the sides of the roads. Other places are a mess. Here they have trash bins on the bus, and people use them. Until now everything has just gone out the window. They also use the time card system with buses here. In Guatemala buses race each other – and I heard there were many accidents. In El Salvador, and here, each bus has a time card, and about every 15 Kms. there is a time clock – and they must punch the clock as to the time they go past. These are carefully checked, and if they are caught going too fast, there is a big fine. Simple solution, and it works. Magalapa was a great place to spend a couple of days. Lovely cool breeze. I wanted to tour a coffee fink but could not get it arranged for the time I was there. Hostel had a pet rabbit – he would sit at the gate by the sidewalk, but never go past there. I arrived on a Sat. and it was Mother’s Day. I got a free candy bar when I shopped at the supermarket. The next day I went to see the big Cathedral, and they were handing out roses to the Moms. I went to a coffee shop across the street – I could hear the music from the service. An old gaucho rode up on his horse, tied it to the fence, and went to church. Next stop Little Corn Island.
Basilica Cathedral of the Risky Well Assumption of the Virgin Mary – Leon