Nicaragua, (from) two sides.
Nicaragua, the biggest, poorest and, according to most of the people I spoke too before, the cheapest country to travel in Central America. At this time there live not more than 5.5 million inhabitants, like in Honduras only Nicaragua is much bigger. But with a very young population and a birth average of 3.8 children on one woman, this can quickly change...
The last few weeks it seemed to me that Nicaragua is developing on a high speed. I will give some examples that I´ve noticed: Was it in Honduras quit difficult to find a trash bin on the street, the streets around the centres,
in most of the city´s in Nicaragua provide enough of them. Now the Nicaraguan only need to learn that they also have to use them...
What also surprised me was that, on a few places I´ve been, they provided information about venereal diseases and how to have save sex. I have ´t seen that much before, around here and it´s a good start.
The last example I will give is about the special police force they have to fine for road offences. But with the terrible conditions of most of the roads in Nicaragua, I don´t think that many of them will be given for speeding...
One thing that disappointed me a little was that most of Nicaragua was not (anymore) as cheap as they told me before. Most of the prices are the same as in Honduras, only with the difference that the Cordoba of Nicaragua is even more worth than the Lemperia. The prices in big supermarkets are often even higher and one time I was even shocked when I heard that the price of a pair of white Nike sport socks in a big shopping centre, didn´t cost 8.5
Cordoba, but 8.5US$, which is 15 times more!?
Of course Nicaragua is still very cheap to travel, but still the cheapest?
There´s a lot more to tell about Nicaragua, but the last 2 weeks I´ve seen so much, that otherwise my travel report will become to long.
Leon, a town with a lot of history, art and big and small churches. It´s like an old version of Antigua, only with far less tourists and with still, beside the taxi cars, horse cars who can drive you down the wide streets. Also worth to visit, when you get a little hot in Leon, are the quiet and very clean beaches of Poneloya.
Matagalpa, is not really worth to visit, but the hills around offers splendid views over the coffee plantations and the private protected cloudy forest, called Selva Negra, after the German coffee farmer who takes care of the forest. In this park fly many hummingbirds, are howler monkeys and was it the first time I saw a wild raccoon, or something that looks
like that? Perhaps one warning can be useful: “Watch out where you stay if you want to take a picture, otherwise it can happen that you will suddenly feel the legs of dozens of ants, who try to climb your legs and pants!”
A little earlier than planned, I went back to the capital Managua, to find out about the possibilities to go by bus and boat to the Corn Islands. It turned out to be more difficult than I expected, because nobody seemed to be sure about the times and days that the boats go from Bluefields to Big Corn Island and back? The only thing that finally seemed to be sure is that there will leave a boat from Bluefield to Big Corn on Wednesday.
Managua it self is a little bit a strange city. It´s very big, with a lot more to see than in Tegucigalpa, but what makes it a little strange is that the old centre, that´s even not in the centre of the city, looks very abandon? Of course there walk some ´people on the streets, but for a big city you expect to see a lot more people? The new centre also looks a little out of place, with it´s casinos, restaurants and very big and expensive shopping centres. It looks more like an American town, only without it´s boulevards.
Masaya, a friendly and quiet town, with a good view over the lake of Masaya. Volcan Masaya, if you´ve never seen a smoking volcano before, I think you can be impressed by seeing the big smoking crater. But for my it was too touristic and also disappointed that the south side, from where you have the opportunity to see the lava, was closed because it was too dangerous?
Granada, a beautiful colonial town on the sore of Lago de Nicaragua, which offers a lot of things to see and do in and around town. It even offers beautiful sky´s around sunset and after sunset, cosy squares with lots of people who enjoy to walk and sit around. To me it´s really it Antigua of Nicaragua.
If you ´re staying in Granada, I think it´s also worth to visit Volcan Montacho to enjoy the view over Lago de Nicaragua and Los Islands de Granada, to fern next day, around sunset, with a small boat between the 360 very small islands.
Than it´s time to start my trip to the Corn Islands.
Monday evening at 9pm I take the direct bus from Managua to El Rama, this is as far as the road to the Caribbean will go. After 7.5h. of sleeping in a full chicken-bus, we arrive in el Rama and one and a half hour later the speedboats leave across the river to enter Bluefields around 8am. On this boat I met a few other Dutch guys and together we explore Bluefields that day. Bluefields is not named after it´s blue Caribbean water, it looks even more dirty and brown, but after the Dutch pirate Blewfeldt. It´s a fishing village that only looks nice if you look down on it from a hill or a plane. During the evening it doesn´t feel very save also.
Wednesday, finally the boat to Big Corn Island will leave, at least we hope so?
It seems that the boat has to come from El Rama and will not even land on Bluefields? So we have to go to the small island El Bluff??? Also the departing time seems to change every hour? From 8:30am I heard in Managua, till 10pm, 11pm and finally 12pm, it finally arrived, but didn´t want to leave until 14:10h! Lucky we met some nice travellers to exchanges travel experiences en play cards with.
After a prosperous trip on a calm sea with an old sea ship, Captain D., we arrived after dark finally on Big Corn.
Big Corn Island, a beautiful Caribbean island with nice beige and white palm beaches and splendid blue water. It´s biggest income comes from fishing on the lobster that lives around the islands. That´s the reason why you can eat here lobster for only 6.5US$!
We were very lucky with to have lots of sunshine on the island, but last week there was a lot of wind and rain and because of that, the water around the islands was still turbid with a bad view to look under water. This was the biggest reason for me to decide not to go to Little Corn Island as planned, to go snorkelling there. But instead I took the next day a small plane to try to spot lots of turtles on the beach of the Pacific Coast.
Someone had told me that the best possibility to see them would be around full moon and that would be this weekend. So it could happen that one day I woke up at the Caribbean Coast, to swim, around sunset in the Pacific Ocean in front of bay Majagual. Majagual, a real travellers and surfers place with lots of things to do from and with one of the most beautiful Pacific beaches I´ve seen after Mexico. But a little remote, the atmosphere has to be made by the people who stay there.
Next day, when I asked a tour guide about the nestling of the turtles, he told me that´s not true that the turtles will come to the beach when it´s full moon. Turtles don´t want to be seen by predators and us, so that´s the reason that they prefer to go to the beach when there´s no moon at all!
An other contradiction is that on this side of the Nicaragua they try to protect the turtles, while on Big Corn you could see some big turtles laying on their back, waiting to become someone’s fresh dinner!?
Ok, no turtle spotting today, so directly to another island, Island Ometepe. The first night I stayed at the quiet Playa Venecia and now I stay at the backpackers Hacienda Merida. Just back from a walk to the nice waterfall of San Ramon, I´m watching a beautiful sunset from the dock. Next time more about Island Ometepe.