Granada was wonderful! Our hostel recommendation, however, wasn’t the greatest I’d had, but it was marginally cheaper than the rest, plus being too lazy, I ended up staying there for 4 nights. It was pretty far from the main square and it was full of hippies who roam from town to town trying to sell home-made jewelry, who don’t shower regularly and who sit around all day drinking. Mmm…
Agustina and I explored the city with our cameras, for as long as we could hold out in the heat – we went to the cathedral, 2 churches and a convent. It was nice and peaceful because this was the 19th of July, the celebration of the start of the revolution in Nicaragua (independence day is a month later). I was originally planning on being in Managua for it and joining in on the celebrations, but on further consideration, and after seeing Managua, we’d decided to give it a miss. And I’m glad we did – we heard some of the cheering and craziness in Granada, and saw the hoards of people on TV listening to some guy’s speech that went on and on.
But, lucky for us, it meant a little more quiet on the streets of Granada. I’d also got into the Stiegg Larsson trilogy and after finding the second book I took every opportunity I had to sit down and read. In the evening we had a last dinner with Talei, our friend from lago de yojoa in Honduras and Somoto in Nicaragua. Agustina decided to travel with her to Isla de Ometepe – Granada is right next to a huge lake, and this island is in the middle consisting I’d 2 volcanoes, whereas I was not so interested in hiking for 8 hours just to say I’ve climbed a volcano. Being on my own for the next 2 days, I decided to do excursions to Mombacho (another volcano close to Granada) and the next day to relax with my book at laguna de apoyo, which is a crater lake north of Granada. Travelling during the rainy season means the temperature is much more pleasant, but it also means mountains and peaks are covered in clouds 80% of the time. And Mombacho was no different. I got up to the start of the hikes by the shuttle, or Eco-taxi, which is well worth the $12 as it’s quite steep and would otherwise take you 2-3 hours just to get to the start. I decided to do the short 1.5 hour hike around one of the craters. It was fairly windy and the clouds were hanging low so I enjoyed the temperature more than the views. But walking through a rainforest that is growing on a volcano is cool in itself, plus there was a nice troop of howler monkeys passing overhead. I got to the last viewpoint and waiting for a while managed to get a glimpse of the isletas, little scattered islands near the lake formed by the volcano years and years ago, before the clouds covered it up again.
I did a little retake of the beginning of the track, and this time I was able to see the trees growing inside the crater, which was pretty cool.
That evening I was asked to join a pub quiz team with 2 other people and we won! I’m getting good at those 🙂
On my last day in Granada it was looking dreary in the morning but it cleared up as I trekked out to laguna de apoyo, which is just north of Granada. I took a local bus there, a taxi to the entrance and then was nicely offered a ride on the back of a pick up down to the lake (saves me another 5km downhill). It’s quite beautiful, and I spent the day lazily finishing the 2nd stieg Larsson book at a place called la abuela.
It is now Friday the 22nd, and I made my way to San Juan del Sur in 2 chicken buses, one of which was probably the shabbiest I’ve been on yet. San Juan is a place where surfers go, and it had a really laid-back but Western vibe. Quite the party town. I had agreed to meet up with Agustina and Talei there, in addition to which I bumped into a new Zealand couple from before, a group of Americans from the corn islands, the Swede from the Corn islands and the couple I did the pub quiz with in Granada! How nice.
On Saturday I went to visit one o the beaches with some of the aforementioned people, though they’re not very pretty, mainly good for surfing. That evening I did a sea turtle tour, as it’s the perfect time to see olive Ridley turtles coming onto the beach to lay their eggs. It was really interesting to see, though sadly I felt our group was too big. A 1am return led to joining a massive pool party that had been organised for the night…
On Sunday Agustina and I said our goodbyes to Nicaragua and headed onwards to Costa Rica. It was another typical border crossing, doing the walk across (I’ve never used intercontinental buses on this trip to cross any borders) though this one was more bustling than any of the others before it. In terms of people and in terms of the amount of trucks lined up single file – it just kept going on and on. We got to Liberia relatively harmlessly.
Costa Rica is much more developed than Nicaragua, especially in terms of tourism, and the people seem to be more cocky there. We wanted to go to Liberia because it’s the capital of the northern municipality called Guanacaste, and for the past few days they’d been celebrating their independence from Nicaragua some time before.
Liberia is also known as the White city because many of the houses have white-washed walls. It’s also a big rodeo and horse-riding town, so on the day we arrived celebrations were in full swing with a horse parade – hundreds of people making their horses do strange steps, with the cowboy hats, chequered shirts and boots to match. Horsepoo smell filled the air. Beer cans strewn around in the gutters. Salsa dancing by live bands. Interesting!
Funnily (and luckily) enough the last day of the celebrations, the one we were aiming for, wasn’t nearly as eventful as the day we arrived so I’m vey glad we were able to the the day before’s celebrations.
From Liberia we took a morning bus to Puntarenas from where we took a bus to Monteverde, the most visited place in all of Costa Rica. It’s basically a big cloudforest reserve (cloudforest being a rainforest above an elevation of about 1500m) and the change of temperature to a cooler climate where you’re not sweating 24/7. 3 days here will be followed by 5 more days on the Caribbean coast before heading home. So soon!!!