Monday, June 02, 2008

At Last--Trip Report

So, I am finally getting around to posting about the trip. I need to, before I forgot what I did. I normally journal while on vacay, in order to recall what we did, but I did not feel like it this trip.
Anyway. I will attempt to put everything into writing after the fact. I am sure I will need to update later as I always forget things when reporting in this manner.

Day 1
Got up realllllly early, as we had to be at the airport for a flight at 6 AM. Got there, half asleep, and flew through security. Yay. Flight left on time, and flew into Houston. Flight left Houston on time as well. Gotta love Continental. Got to Managua, Nicaragua, and quickly got through customs. Paid the $5 per person fee to enter the country (which is SOO cheap compared to the other Central American countries we have visited), and headed to Avis to get our rental car. I had rented an automatic mid-range SUV. Of course, being Central America, they had no automatics available. So, we got a stick. Which is sooo much fun in stop and go traffic in busy foreign cities. Took us forever to get out of Managua. Nicaragua is just like Costa Rica in that there are NO freaking signs. Or very few anyway. We had an awesome detailed map, which would have helped if there were ANY street signs to help me. We had decided to head to Granada first thing, as it is a central location to get to a lot of things we wanted to see. Finally got to Granada after some wrong turns and figuring things out. Checked into La Gran Francia (stayed in the junior suite which was nice) and headed to lunch at the hotel's restaurant, El Arcangel. Super good lunch. The hotel was really kewl because it dates back to the 1500s and is a historic building. After lunch we found a tour guide store and booked a trip for the next morning to Mombacho Volcano. We were pretty tired with the time change, and the flights, and driving around the country, so after wandering the city some and grabbing something to drink, we decided to pass out and go to bed.

Day Two
Got up early and headed to the tour guide's office and to Mombacho Volcano. Took a truck to the base of the volcano to wait for the huge truck that would take us to the hike in the volcano. The trucks were pretty kewl, they were old army trucks from the civil war in the country in the 1980s. Rode up in the truck with our tour guide. On the way up, we stopped at a little village that makes it's own coffee and sells it (among other things). Wandered there and took some pics, and headed up to the top. As soon as we got there, it started to pour. Waiting in the little lodge until the rain subsided somewhat. Started the hike, which was through rain forest in the volcano. There were many places to stop and see the views, which were breathtaking. Of course, it started to pour again and we got totally drenched. Since it was so hot out there though, it was not too miserable. I was glad I was not wearing anything white or see through though. Stopped raining about half way through, as soon as we got to the really kewl part of the hike with even more amazing views and opportunity to get close to some steam vents and lava. Hiked back and were taken back to Granada. Since we were still feeling adventurous, we booked another tour, which was a boat tour on Lake Nicaragua to see the lake, a really old fort, and different little islands, including one with lots of spider monkeys. :). The boat ride was really nice. I love being on the water. We saw a lot of birds, a turtle, and lots of monkeys, including howler and the spider monkeys on the island they call Monkey Island. The fort we visited was pretty kewl too. Love how old everything is in this area. Got back to Granada, booked another trip for the next morning and decided to wander around town for me to take pics and explore.....Did that, then had dinner at a really kewl little place where I had shrimp pasta and Kurt had veggie pasta. After that, headed to bed.

Day Three
Got up really early to head to Zapatera Island, which is the home of many ancient petroglyphs. The boat ride each way is 1.5 hours. Stopped at two different areas. The first was a smaller island that had petroglyphs as soon as you stepped off the boat on the lava on the shores. It was SOOO hot that day, and this would be the day both Kurt and I got way to much freaking sun. Oww. I always wear sunscreen, and it was just not helping this day with being in a boat so long and out hiking on black lava. Anyway, on island two, we went hiking in the rain forest to different areas that had petroglyphs. Very, very kewl. Really hard hike for us though because of the changes in elevation and temperature. It's kinda sad too because the petroglyphs are not really protected. The government there cannot afford to preserve and find more of the beauty of these petroglyphs and thus, once they are gone from the sun and exposure and not being blocked off from humans and such walking on them, they will be gone and never available to see again except in pictures. I felt really privileged to have gotten to see them. Headed back after this hot day and had lunch at a little Mediterranean place, had paella. After that, headed back to our car to drive to our next destination, Ometepe Island. Drove to San Jorge, and to the ferry. As soon as we pulled up, people were trying to help us, which we actually needed. A taxi was set up to pick us up on the island and take us to a hotel. Ferry ride over was nice. The ferry was three stories, with the second level having air conditioning. Whoot. Got there, and our taxi driver was waiting and drove us to the hotel. Got there, and luckily a room was available. Checked in, and had dinner on the deck overlooking the ocean. Signed up for a tour the next morning and headed to bed.

Day Four
Got up early for our hike through the primary rain forest. On the way there, saw a TON of capuchin monkeys and babies playing in the trees. The hike was awesome, over lava rocks. We saw some really kewl bats, as well as a snake, some neat bugs including a centipede, and awesome HUGE trees. After the hike ended, we found some howler monkeys playing in the trees with their babies and literally stood and watched for a about 40 minutes. Love the monkeys. Headed back to the hotel and checked out the beach, but with our burn, we were not laying out that day! :). Had breakfast with another couple we had met (canadian), and then headed back to the ferry. After the ferry, we decided to head to Masaya, which is known for it's really kewl open market shopping. Went there, and ended up buying a really kewl wooden bowl, as well as a little parrot for Kurt for his office, and a wooden thing that I deemed a paper clip holder for my desk at the office. Left there and headed back to Managua. Got pulled over on the way. I had just read that the police in Nicaragua like to pull over foreigners and try and get bribes out of them, when they are doing nothing wrong. So yea, doing nothing wrong and got pulled over. Got out of the ticket when we refused to pay the bribe. Really annoyed us, as I don't think screwing Americans over is going to boast toursm in your country. Found a hotel that was really nice, and decided to get massages. Did that, and then had dinner at the hotel and crashed.

Day Five
Got up early this morning and headed outside of Managua to hike in a primary rain forest. This was prob the most awesome hike of the trip. We saw so much. Tons of monkeys, a peccary, birds, etc. The trees were incredible on this hike. Kewlest I have ever seen. Also saw a gorgeous waterfall. After this, went and walked through a local mall and had lunch, then headed back to the hotel. Ended up getting kinda drunk, hehe, and playing pool in the hotel's poolside bar. Kurt beat me, but I did win 4 games to his 8. Decided to get a mani/pedi next, while Kurt had another massage and went to the casino (where he won $70 playing blackjack). Went and had dinner that night at this really yummy seafood place in town. Came back afterwards and hung out in the room, and crashed.

Day Six
Back to reality, boo. Slept in, got up and had breakfast, turned the rental car in, and headed to the airport. All flights back were great.

Overall, had an awesome time! It was prob our least favorite of the Central American countries thus far, but still had an amazing time, as usual. Some of the things we did not like about the country were the lack of road signs, the amount of people begging us EVERYWHERE we went, the police pulling foreigners over for no reason.............But, I did like the lack of tourists, the beauty of the volcanos and rain forests, and being in nice weather! :).

Of course, took lots of pics. Click here to see them.


Katie said...

Sounds like a great trip... minus the snakes, and getting pulled over... both of those experiences would probably freak me out.

Your pictures are gorgeous :)

.................Nancy said...

Wow, it sounds amazing!!! I can't wait to get home and see the pics!!

We got pulled over for no reason ALL the freaking time in Africa. The 'best' one was when we got pulled over because 'our car was too dirty'!! LOL

AJ said...

i found ur blog thru tripadvisor - great trip and your pics are amazing. i'm starting to plan a trip to Nicaragua for this fall - so thanks for all the info!

Rachael said...

i love hearing about your amazing trips!

Rachael said...

i love hearing about your amazing trips!