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chicken buses and beaches in nicaragua

NICARAGUA | Saturday, 23 August 2008 | Views [417]

we left Utila with 4 others, Hannah and Jack from our diving course and Monique and Doug who we had met at the bus station on our way to the island. It was two days of bus trips and a night in Tegucigalpa, the dodgy capital of Hondurus, and we eventually, crossed the border and arrived in Nicaragua – opting to head straight for Granada instead of staying in the capital. It was another squashy mini van ride to Granada – we really couldn’t believe how many people they squeeze into these vans. Incredible. We arrived in Granada, a beautiful colonial town with what we called the `gringo strip’ restaurant after restaurant after restaurant. Heaps of tasty food, menus in English but not really the Nicaragua experience we were after. We walked a few streets back, behind the beautifully kept gardens and freshly painted buildings and found the `real’ Granada – markets, dirty streets, locals selling knick knacks and lots of colour – now that is what we were talking about. We found a hostel, and together with Doug and Monique and Hannah and Jack headed out for our first fancy meal in nearly 4 months and the best steak in Nicaragua. We all had the steak which was melt in your mouth tender and came with potato and steamed vegetables, there was bottles of red wine, bloody mary’s, it was without a doubt a very satisfying meal, slightly more than we would usually pay, but splurging with friends was a lovely way to treat ourselves, something we haven’t done in a while. The next day I came down with a funny tummy, or as backpackers call it, bum wee, a bad case of cum wee. Jack also had it, and we straight away blamed dodgy pizza we had eaten in a bus station the previous morning. I was down and out for the entire day, not daring to leave reach of the toilet, I was just thankful that we had a private bathroom, the first in many weeks. Kim explored, making his way to the lake, which he reported to be particularly unremarkable, and then headed out for dinner with Doug and Monique. After I recovered we moved to a new hostel and passed out days playing canasta with Doug and Monique, walking around and soaking Granada, looking for a new book for Kim, now on his 5th, and planning our next move. The morning came to leave but when we woke to pouring rain we decided it wasn’t the best time to catch a chicken bus, our bags would have gotten soaked and we still are a bit wary of drivers in Central America, without adding slippery roads to the mix. We passed the day playing cards in a cool little café with Doug and Monique and updating journals etc. Our next destination was San Juan Del Sur, and we caught two chicken buses to get there, a fun and colourful experience – still haven’t had a chicken on board but we were forced to jump off one bus and run to another going about 3km/h, jump on, which was a biiig squeeze and have our bags thrown up onto the top. It was interesting – and the following two hours I had a strange man rubbing up against me until I managed to catch Kim’s eye and swap places. We scored a cool little room in a nice hostel in San Juan, and went out to check out the beach, which was actually a bit disappointing on first looks, it was dark sand and heaps of fishing boats moored offshore. Walking back to our hostel I noticed a familiar hair cut and it was our friends Ella and Mikey who we had met in Mexico. We went for beers and the afternoon stretched to evening which stretched into the early morning. It was a great night and brilliant to find familiar faces. The next day we headed off on a four wheel drive adventure to a cool surf beach with Mikey, Ella and Hannah and Jack who had arrived in San Juan the day before. It was a bumpy ride to get there, but Kim was stoked to find big and pretty empty waves. Us girls found shelter and spent the day swimming, Kim and the boys surfed, we played cards and chess and we watched an amazing sunset and cool orange crabs making their way back home. It was a few more days of this, as we explored along the beach further and further with each visit, finding some accommodation right at the end of a deserted beach, the rooms basically little dog houses, you couldn’t stand in them and they just had to mattresses on the floor and nothing else, no windows, just a door you have to crawl through. It didn’t appeal to Kim really – he likes a fan on him full bore at night time, so we decided as nice and relaxing it would be, it wasn’t an option. We did discover a rool little beach front restaurant that had opened just the previous week and was owned by a lovely American couple. They had a bbq on the deck and we could eat a hamburger, salad and potato for a couple of dollars each, so we tended to eat here most nights. We had organized to head to Liberia in Costa Rica for their independence day celebrations and meet Ella and Mikey, so together with Doug and Monique who had just arrived in San Juan, we caught a couple more chicken buses and arrived in Liberia.

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