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NICARAGUA | Saturday, 28 June 2014 | Views [154]

Hola! Nicaragua is done and we are now in Costa Rica. We spent 13 days in Nicaragua dividing our time between Leon,Granada and San Juan del Sur. Leon was about volcanos. We visited 2 volcanos. The first one - Cerro Negro, last erupted many years ago but it claim to fame now is, it is where you do volcano boarding. After the last eruption the wind blew all the ash down one side of the volcano which has left a gritty sand like surface to slide down. So basically you climb up one side over old lava rock,carrying your equipment and after donning said equipment sit on a piece a board (like a boogie board) and slide down a 45 degree slope. The walk up took about 45mins and once up top saw fantastic views of other nearby volcanos,the plainland and even the pacific. After putting on elbow and knee pads,goggles,gloves and a boiler suit it was on the board to slide down the black slope.Of course Gary zoomed down but I went at snail pace. Gary said it was painfully slow,but I ended up at the bottom w/o falling off and with a black face from the dust.But it was fun.The group of american teenagers(on a school trip) with us were itching to do it again.We also went to a crater of another volcano at dusk so we could see lava in the void. Though we could see great views of the countryside again we missed sunset due to low cloud and the larva was pinpricks of red glow way down in the crater through all the gases.We then had to hike 45mins down in the dark to the waiting 4WD before the hour long trek through the "bush" back to the hostel.One of the other highlights in Leon was being able to get on top of the cathedral roof to see the city landscape below.After Leon it was onto Granada. Another spanish influenced town with wide streets and colonial buildings.It is on the shores of the huge Lago Nicaragua. There we did an a boat tour of the many little islands just off shore which are the result of a landsilde from the  nearby extinct volcano.Amongst the islands saw a lot of birdlife and we were also amazed to see that many people live on these little bits of land.There was a church,school,cementry and various houses scattered about. There we also hiked up to an old crater of Mombacho volcano and in the cloud forest at top saw howler monkeys,a couple of sloths and many tropical plants. There were also a few fumaroles - holes with warm gases escaping,and once again the great views of the lake,town and surrounds. The rest of the time in Granada we spent looking around the town,resting .Gary was able to catch quite a few of the preliminary games of the world cup in these towns .He was happy to see the games but not happy with the results - re Australia and England. We travelled further south to San Juan del Sur - a little beach town,with a little bay.There we had "family" time as we met our nephew there who is travelling north from Panama and surfing the beaches. That was great to see him and also to be by the sea even if the sand is brown not white. The little bay has a hill on each side. One side has a big statue of Jesus (sort of like the famous Rio  one). We hiked up both sides which gave spectacular coastline views both north and south. The very big Lago Nicaragua causes different weather patterns to occur. It was funny to see at San Juan the waves coming into shore but the white caps going out to sea due the winds coming off the lake. Round this area the winds from the lake are strong and there are many wind turbines in the area of the lake shores (which is behind San Juan). These winds are why the area is so dry because once you are past the lake and in Costa Rica it is very green with the rains. In San Juan we pushed the boat out and had lobster a couple of nights - only around $6-10 for a meal. Great Value. Driving between the towns reminded somewhat of oz with the flatish terrain,dry conditions and the cattle ranches. In Leon we even passed eucalypt trees on one of our outings.Because they grow quick and are hardy they are a good option for replanting barren areas. So now we'll do about 12 days here before moving onto Panama city. Sunday the 29th here will a big day  with Costa Rica in the world cup quarter-final.I expect the whole nation will stop to watch. Certainly lots of flags,jerseys etc being sold in the streets. Hello to one and all and Adios till next time.PS My camera has broken and we are using gary's phone now and so have to figure out how to upload the photos. So fingers crossed.

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