Maandelijks archief: december 2014

Another day in Paradiso

It seems that  a lot of hostels in Nicaragua have a kind of “sister hostels” on places where nobody would find them if they wouldn’t have a joint venture with a hostel in a big city.

In Leon there was a cooperation between the surfing turtle lodges, which were actually owned by the same owner. In Granada we stayed one night at the Bearded monkey hostel because they have free transfers to the treehouse hostel. The Oasis hostel in Granada has a daily shuttle bus connection with a hostel at the Apoyo crater lake. We stayed one night here in hostel Paradiso.

L., the lady with who I traveled to Somoto had recommended to go to the Apoyo crater lake and here in Paradiso a lot of other people also recommended the trip to Paradiso. So we did. We met a Dutch girl at Oasis who just arrived from her two months of traveling in Cuba, lets call her M. and she joined us to Paradiso.

People told us that the lake is warmed by the volcano, so my expectations were close to a gigantic whirlpool. Can you make up the disappointment in the previous sentence? It was a disappointment when the temperatures were only slightly higher than the sea temperature. I was not disappointed about the view, the view was stunning. We heard a lot “jungle sounds” and saw a lot of beautiful birds. I bought maps with drawings of the Nicaragua wildlife so I know what I see.

The Paradiso hostel has canoes which are free for use and s o we did, at least John and M. did. They had a canoe together and I had one for myself, but my body is not made for this kind of canoes and I decided to make a U-turn after about 100m. I changed clothes, still open shoes but socks in it this time because I went for a hike and there are animals, especially insects which only exists on this planet to sting and byte me, they are not going to fool me this time. With a second skin existing of DEET I hiked on the road at first, but the woods were far more interesting and that’s where I had to go. After walking about 45 minutes I had heard a lot of monkeys but did not see a single one. The sun goes down at 5.45pm and at 6pm it is completely dark, It was 4.30 already so I had to hurry a bit.  Lucky for me there was a man cutting wood, with the few Spanish words I manage and the animal map in my hand I asked him where I could see any mono (Spanish for monkey). At first he didn’t like to see me but when he noticed I was only looking for animals he was so kind to cut me through the wilderness and bring we just below the tree filled with mono congo’s (Mantel howler monkeys, got no pictures of that, was not possible with my iPhone).

After I told this to John an M. we decided to go for a early morning hike. With this hike we saw a lot of beautiful birds and after just 300m walking we saw our first monkeys. To enhance the chances of seeing wildlife we took a very small path towards the top of the volcano. It was a nice hike in the middle of only forest but without any form of wildlife except the sounds. After we reached the asphalt road again we saw a lot of monkeys playing in the trees and roar  at every car, bus or motorbike passing by.

Below some pictures we took at the Apoyo crater lake (there are also pictures on my phone, I will add them later since the battery died and I am happy without phone at the moment :D).

View on lake Apoyo from almost the top of the crater - during our hike

View on lake Apoyo from almost the top of the crater – during our hike

Hiking upwards the crater trough the forest

Hiking upwards the crater trough the forest

The first 2 Howler monkeys we saw during our hike.

The first 2 Howler monkeys we saw during our hike.

The crater is filled with these white squirrels.

The crater is filled with these white squirrels.

View on the Apoyo crater lake from our hostel

View on the Apoyo crater lake from our hostel

 

An adventure to Esteli and somoto

updated: Februari 7, added video on the bottom of this blogpost

As I mentioned in my previous blogpost, we met a lady (L.) from California on our second Volcano hike. While John was recovering from his injury, L. and I had made plans to go on a little adventure. And an adventure it was…

L. and I caught the first bus departing from Leon at 5 am, to Esteli just on time, the bus took about 3 hours to get there. In Esteli we took a taxi to the Luna hostel. Jane, the owner of the hostel and the Luna bar, saw us getting out of the taxi and welcomed us, even though she did not expect us at all because we did not announce we would come. She told us that we were to late to visit Miraflor (The coffee processing fields) because the bus already left for 2 hours. There was a tour operator (treehuggers) on the other corner of the crossing where we should walk in and wait for her. In the end it turned up that we had 20 minutes to re-assemble our backpacks and daypack for a canyoning trip.

A guy working for Jane brought us by taxi to the bus-station of Esteli and waited together with us to be sure we had the correct bus to Somoto. In total it took us 5 hours of driving with taxis, express buses to go travel from Leon to Henries House, 12km from Somoto at the start of the canyoning.

The canyoning was incredible, the first 2km we had to walk to- and into the canyon, the landscapes were beautiful on this hike. The canyoning itself was not hard to do, but rather fun with combinations of swimming, walking, little climbing and the most fun part jumping. The highest jump we took was 8m (evidence will be there in the video from the GoPro shots I made). If you have plans to visit Nicaragua once, you have to put this on your 2do list.

After the hike we went back to Henries house to enjoy a lunch (included). But then… we had to go back to Esteli and the public transportation in Nicaragua is not exactly the same as in The Netherlands. Nevertheless, the buses drive on a kind off a schedule, if they drive at all. We just missed the bus from Somoto to Estelli by a few minutes, but it looked more like this bus was broken because there were a lot of other people still waiting for that single bus. We had to wait for an hour for the next and also the last bus of that day, since it was a national day in Leon, we were not the only people who heading that direction.

We were lucky that we could sit in the bus, also called chicken bus over here. I had to turn my body because it was impossible to position my knees in front of my body. The designer of these buses must be kind of hobbit, dwarf, child or something of similar body length, but I was happy that we didn’t had to stand the whole 3 hours. Within 2 stops the bus was filled with people. Within the two next stops there were even people traveling on the outside of the bus, my knees got warmed up by the genitals of a local standing next to me and the 2 other tourists sitting in the row next to got a baby on their lap from one of the Young local woman. The temperature had raised with 10 degrees and more and more people were gazing at me. That last part was understandable and rather funny than annoying. In this part of Nicaragua not all people are used to pale, foreign people with ginger hair and freckles.

We were more concerned about our backpacks, which we left abandoned at the Luna bar because we had no time to bring them to the hostel, which we only verbally confirmed to stay the night. After all they’d put our backpacks in a closed room and everything was still in there. We wanted to go to Mariflor the next day, but it seemed that the coffee beans are still growing and we could not see the process of collecting and handling the beans it self. Our other option was to visit the cigar factories, but that was closed on Monday because of a national holiday. We decided to take the next bus at 5am back to Leon where L. took the next bus to the beach and I reunited with John and travel by shuttle bus to Granada.

The canyoning trip from Treehuggers (Esteli) costs $ 25,-, this is included a taxi from the Somoto bus station to Henry Soriano & community at Somoto Canyon, excluding all other buses and taxis. Advantage of the chicken buses is that they are very cheap, but express buses are not to expensive as well but more comfortable and thus recommended. Taxis are expensive for long distances and often you have to pay per person instead of per ride

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Volcano hiking, boarding and seeing magma on my 35th birthday

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Last Saturday I became 35. Normally I would have started my birthday the night before my birthday with drinking some beers in a bar in Tilburg (NL). This year was different, I am in Nicaragua and we hiked 2 volcanoes.

The first volcano was not about the hiking it self, the hiking was necessary for the down slide on a multiplex plank with a rope. Here they call it volcano boarding or volcano surfing. The volcano “Cerro Negro”, is the only volcano in the world from where you can “surf”.This because one side of the volcano has a top layer of sand. During the year the villagers of the city Leon have to clean all the roofs because otherwise the roofs will collapse under the weight of black volcano sand. The sand is brought there by the wind of course. View the video below of our hike and boarding on- and off this volcano.

For the second part of the day, still my birthday, John let me chose between having diner in a restaurant with the name “The Carnivore” or to hike another volcano where we could see real magma. Duh, since I really love animals, alive or on my dish, the carnivore would sound like an obvious choice. But… when do I have the chance to see real magma in the near future? Thought so, thus we hiked another volcano (Telica volcano). It was word the hike, we saw a beautiful sunset through the sulfur damps of the volcano, smelled the sulfur coming out of the crater. Especially the view of the magma and the everything destroying sound of the inner volcano are things to remember for the rest of my life. Maybe an ‘tremendous stake of 1 pound would have had the same effect. Since John is into making video’s…

During this last hike, John is foot got more swollen from his little accident he had 2 weeks ago with slag-lining. So he planned a day of rest at the surf turtle hostel in Leon we stayed for the second time. We met a girl (L) from California on this last volcano hike who had plans to go to the north to Esteli and do one or two tours from there. Since I had seen almost everything of Leon together with N. I was in for a one, two or three daytrip with L. so John could recover from his injury. There is so much to tell about this sunday that I will keep this for my next blogpost.

For this part we are still on our original schedule. We made it to Granada and we stayed in the bearded monkey hostel as planned because they have a free transfer to the tree hostel. During the night I got ill and the hostel was that worse as described on tripadvisor that we decided to go to the oasis hostel, recommended by L.. We will probably not make it to the tree hostel anymore at all and we are doubting about the rest of the schedule as well. The mission we have is to see as many wildlife as possible. You will read it here when we have made up our new schedule.

Surfing turtle: Utopia on the pacific Nicaragua coast

As I wrote in my previous blog post we are on this beautiful place in the middle of nowhere, of course somewhere: Reserva Natural Isla Juan Venado. This hostel we lived the last four days is called Surfing Turtle lodge as mentioned before.

A brief description of this place… A very nice and affordable hostel directly on the beach with hammocs, palm trees, daily campfires, a lot of sun (some clouds as well), a very long and wide Brown/ yellowisch beach and offcourse the ocean. The food is a bit more expensive than in the city, but you have no choise to dat somewhere else, because you are locked up by nature. In the evenings there is a “turtle walk”, where you walk in a guide group to search for turtles who are laying eggs. When a turtle is found, the guide secures the eggs by taking them to with him/ her. Otherwise local people will find the eggs and sell them to restaurants and hotels to be served as delicatessen. As soon as the turtles are born, they are released on the shore by sunset. The surfing turtle lodge is doing a great job for the turtle foundation.

Ironically the party here exists for the most part of backpackers, this is not a big surprise because you will not find it in the booklets of your touroperator. But it differs not to much from a holliday on and Costa on the Spanish coast. There is not much you can do here than lying on the beach, try the catch a wave with a surfboard, but don’t expert to much of the waves, relax and do nothing. In the afternoon, about 2 pm the crew will bring you the party with their alcoholic drinking games. Now the ironic part… When I talk to backpackers at home in the bar, on a datingsite or wherever, they “hate” such hollidays and think people who love them are dull. Now I found out backpackers do the same on there “secret spots” and they love it :D.

The things I liked the most here is getting up at 5:00 – 5:30, enjoy the sunrise and take a barefoot walk on the beach and the swamp. This morning I did a 10km bearfoot run on the beach, it was not that joyfull at that moment because I’ve got borred after a few kilometers but running on barefoot was great. Other highlights are… all the sunsets, being whitness of a sea turtle laying her eggs and releasing about 80 newborn turtles which we could truly hold in our hands. For this time I kept the drinking games for the other people, because I enjoyed getting up early to much.

After staying here for 4 days we are ready to leave this “Utopia” behind us and go back to Leon. Our schedule for the next 3 weeks is as following:

  • Back to Leon
  • Daytrip: vulcano boarding on an active vulcano
  • Travel to Granada and stay there for two days
  • Take a free bus to a tree house hostel and stay there for a few days
  • Travel to Rivas for taking the bus to Costa Rica for a mangrove kayak trip
  • Travel back to Rivas to take Some kind of transport to ometepa and stay there for the last days of my holidays. Hike a vulcano, do some snorkeling and maybe a night walk to look for sloths. We will see wat is possible.
  • Go to Mariposa for my last night and leave John there for volunteering as garden man and yoga teacher.

Enjoy the pictures of this Utopia on the pacific coast of Nicaragua.

(P.s.: writing a blog in English with also pictures included is a real pain in the a.. on a Dutch iPad, so don’t try this at home and especcially not during a holiday).

 

Video of saving sea turtles by Dutch Smiling Yogi.

This Olive Ridley sea turtle just laid about 100 eggs

This Olive Ridley sea turtle just laid about 100 eggs

Surfing turtle yoga- and hammoc platform at surf turtle lodge

Surfing turtle yoga- and hammoc platform at surf turtle lodge

I pettet the dog of the security Guy and we walked together.

I pettet the dog of the security Guy and we walked together.

Sunset at surfing turtle lodge

Sunset at surfing turtle lodge

John teaching yoga at the yoga- and hammoc platform

John teaching yoga at the yoga- and hammoc platform

My view from hammoc at the surf turtle lodge

My view from hammoc at the surf turtle lodge

 

Sunrise during my bearfoot morning run at the beach

Sunrise during my bearfoot morning run at the beach

Nicaragua, even time goes slowely

Okay, this time i decided to write my blog in English, for the first time I write a blog in English at all. The tought behind this, is that the people I met here in Nicaragua are speek and understand far worse Dutch than I am at writing in English (believe me it is possible). A disadvantage is that 50% of my parents Will not understand a word of it, but I am sure my dad will translate it.

In this part of the world it is still the 2nd of december and that means that I have been here for just 3 days, out of 24 in total (not counting 2 days traveling). Everything seems to go so slowely over here, even the time and that is wonderfull when you are on hollidays.

I am in Nicaragua for holliday and for visiting a good friend from my hometown, let’s call him John (because that is his name and thus would make sense) he is A.K.A. The Dutch Smiling Yogi. The plan is that we travel together, he lives here for 6 weeks already, but he worked a lot as vollunteer and studied Spanish. So this is also John’s holiday. He learned and experienced a lot about Nicaragua and he speaks and understand Spanish. So he is the perfect guide for me. Thanks John.

We started in Leon, Leon is one of the two rival main cities, together with Granada. The logical compromise between them is Managua. Manuaga is the capital city of Nicaragua and this is also the city where you arrive by plane. So did we, by coincedence there was a lady from London who had to be in the same hostel in Leon… The turtle lodge. This was perfect because we shared the costs for the taxi. As John had seen Leon before, N. (The lady I told you about in the previous sentence) and I, explored the city with the lonely planet in our hands. There was a tour in it described with 26 highlights. I believe 20 of them where churches and the cathedral, but we went of the track and discovered that Leon is more interesting than the 26 blue circles on the map in that famous blue book. If you have plans to visit Nicaragua, you should go to Leon and see:

  • The rooftop of the main cathedral for a priceless view and that for just $3.
  • Botanic garden, they even have a dear, wow (sarcasm mode off), costs $1.
  • Art museum, free entrance
  • Juice store on the central park (with your back to the cathedral first corner of the 2nd block on your right hand). Fresh, large and less than $2
  • Wall paintings on several places in the city, mostly on walls (free)
    Fresh fruits everywhere

Since yesterday we are staying at another recidence of the turtle company. It is called the surfturtle. It is absolutely gorgous, directly lying on the beach on an island in a reservate. Everything is perfect here. Imaging yourself writing a blog on a tablet, sitting in the sand, a few meters from the shore with clear sky, filled with bright stars because there is no environment light. That is exactly what I am doing right now and probably what I will be doing when I write a blog about this place we call . B.T.W. I have seen surfers and we saw a turtle lying here eggs almost on our feed but I am looping forward to see a surfing turtle.