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Journey to Nicaragua...

NICARAGUA | Thursday, 23 July 2009 | Views [1103]

The other day (Monday) we got the Tica bus from El Salvador to Nicaragua. We had to be at the bus station at 4:20am to buy our tickets and register with our passports and we really didn´t get much sleep that night. We were all tired and cranky, but it was a relief to be able to get a bit of a nap as the bus gently rambled through the city before the sun came up.

Thankfully, the bus wasn´t too packed so we were all able to sit seperatly and have two seats to our selves. As we left the city, we increaed speed and that made it hard to sleep. Getting to sleep on a bus isn´t as easy as it might sound, especially when you're powering over cracked, bumpy roads and around sudden sharp corners.

We stopped a few times, once in the morning for breakfast and the other times were border crossings (which were no problem, although cost us US20 each...) and to let people off when we crossed into Nicaragua.

Passing through Honduras was quick and easy. The terrain and atmosphere looks no different to El Salvador or Nicaragua, and although the country is currently having many problems and tourists are being told NOT to go there, it seems passing through on the west cost is trouble free.

The bus trip took over 11hrs and by the time we FINALLY got to Managua (the capital of Nicaragua), we were all hot, tired and very cranky. We grabbed our bags and went to look for a hotel near to the bus station, so it would be easy for us to leave the next day.

Managua is horrible (even according to some of the locals we spoke to). I don´t think it would be an exaggeration to say that our first impressions were NOT GOOD. As soon as we walked off the bus and into the bus station, we started getting hassled by taxi drivers, and when we got onto the street it was the turn of the hotel workers, trying to get us in to their establishments.

One guy said he could do a triple room for US6 each, so we went to have a look. The man checked in all the rooms, as we followed, but he soon realised they had filled up. Then another man said "we have one room - six dollars!!" So we followed him into a room that OBVIOUSLY belonged to the people that worked there. We stood there looking around and Alex and I exchanged confused looks. Suddenly one of the men just yelled "ARRRRRRGH" and threw a glove in Alex´s direction, then the men starting laughing.

The glove hit the wall (thankfully, it didn´t hit poor Alex!) and slid to the ground. Alex and I shook our heads and just walked out; I think the noise scared us both, especially since we were exhausted from our journey. Morgan said a few words to the men in Spanish, and then we just walked away. It was a WEIRD thing to do on their part and it was not a good experience for us in our tired state.

We stopped in a small bar - I had a soft drink and read my book, while Alex and Morgan went off (without backpacks) to find a hotel. This way they weren´t hassled because it looked as if they were already settled into a hotel.

As I waited, I felt quite nervous because I had read so much about how dangerous Managua is. Alex and Morgan were back soon, and they told me we had a nice hotel around the corner. That night, I had my own room with a double bed and a tv. It was lovely. I wasn´t feeling too great, so it was nice to be able to chill out on my own and watch tv and read, and I´m sure it was nice for Alex and Morgan to have some time with each other as well. :)

The next day, we checked out and got a cab to Granada (which is about 45mins south, down the river). We only paid US25 to get there, split three ways, which isn´t bad really. We checked out a few hotels when we got there and decided to stay at Oasis, which is expensive enough, but pretty central and the staff are REALLY nice.

Yesterday Alex and Morgan checked into another hotel that´s just down the busy market road, but I decided to stay at Oasis. I like the staff there and have starting talking to some of the other travelers there, all of who are very nice. Most of the people I´ve met here are American (northern, obviously), and although I´ve seen/heard a few examples of bad and disrespectful traveling, most people seem to be very friendly.

As for the locals, most women are fairly friendly and you can usually get a smile from any one, even on the street. The men however...well the men working in business such as resturants and shops are usually quite nice and you can tell they´ve been trained to be respectful and courtious, but walk around the streets of Granada for 5mins and you will find a man learing at you, making cat-calls, whistling or being generally rude and sexist. 

I know that that kind of thing can and does happen everywhere, but here it seems to be every second guy doing it, and this behavior tends to make women feel uncomfortable and vulnerable, especially when you´re alone and in a developing country.

I delt with a similar thing in Cambodia, especially in Phenom Phenn where tuk tuk drivers and sprukers are notorious for their lude comments to females with white skin. You just have to ignore it and let it wash over you like water off a ducks back. As a woman traveling to a developing country, you are always going to be judged, no only on the color of your skin, but also on the basis you´re a woman. Put "white" and "woman" together and some men just think of it as an invitation to be scum.  This is espically the case for women walking out alone, or traveling completly alone.

Being asked where your husband is, is another MAJOR annoyance for me. Answer that you don´t have one and they think you´re "easy"...it makes lying the more attractive option, which isn´t really too great. :( I´ve even had women say this to me, one of whom said "Don´t worry, one day you can return here with your husband." Like I wan´t enjoying it by my self! She actually pitied me for not being married! Ha!

I know it can be a cultural difference, but as Alex said yesterday: you should not abide rude sexism from anyone for any reason! She´s very right.

Anyway, Granada is an old colonial town and in many ways it´s very beautiful. It´s set on the HUGE Nicaragua Lake (the largest lake in Central America) and is quite a touristy town with lots to do in the souurounding areas like, kayaking on the lake, canopy tours, volcano hiking, coffee farm visits...etc etc... But in some other ways it´s not so beautiful. Just like any other developing country, there is poverty, homeless, begging, dirty streets, open sewers etc etc.

I really want to book a tour to go kayaking on the lake, but it will have to be in the early morning or late afternoon, otherwise I´ll get sunburnt!! It´s SOOOOO hot here, but that is aleviated by the usual afternoon storm (it´s wet season). This doesn´t always mean rain, it can just mean thunder and lighting AND BLACKOUTS!!! AGGGHHH!!

Speaking of storms: one has just rolled in now and I´m going to get off the computer because there will no doubt be a big blackout soon. Photos and more stories soon, I sware. :)

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