Packed and Ready
Feb 20, 2010
|Hi everyone, just thought I would give you an update on where we will be going and a little of what we will be doing.
So we start off in Granada where we will spend the week at a homestay (staying with a Nicaraguan family) and taking spanish lessons in the mornings and volunteering at an all girl orphanage in the afternoons. The orphanage has around 20 girls between the ages of 4 to 14. The girls typical day involve school (4 hours), sewing clothes for themselves and cleaning and cooking in the orphanage. Granada itself is a very old colonial city (its supposed to be the oldest modern city of the americas) founded in 1524.
Then off to Isla de Ometepe. Ometepe is a large island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. The island is famous because it was formed by two large volcanoes so essentially it is two mountains that join in the middle and then surrounded by water. One of the volcanoes, volcano Concepcion is active and most recently erupted on December 12,2009. Volcano eruption
To get there we will either take a ferry from Granada or Rivas, unfortunately the ferry is famous more for sinking then anything else. Ometepe Ferry
I am starting to get a little panicked about where exactly we will stay. In most towns there are tons of little holes in the wall where you can get a bed, a room, or a hammock, but like every where some are better then the others. My main concern is when we are down the Rio San Juan at El Castillo. Since there are no roads, cars, usually no power or phones (apparently someone in town has a sattelite phone thats pretty reliable)and not many places to stay what if we show up and can`t get a place. Luckily I managed to find out about one place that is rated well by our guide book. Its about as good as it gets in the town and you have to pay for that luxury. It is $4 night per person but includes breakfast. The kids will likely be cheaper then that though. (yes that is 4 dollars a night. I wonder what you could get for under $2 a night which some places cost.
The other problem is getting there. We have to catch the overnight ferry from Ometepe island for a 12 hour ride. Unfortunately for Cynthia who is not really much for water, when Lake Nicaragua gets rough (which is the norm) the ferry has been described as turning into a 16hr puke fest. After the ferry arrives in the early morning we have to transfer to a small boat to head three hours down the Rio San Juan. The San Juan River is famous as the first link from the pacific to atlantic oceans. During the california gold rush the quickest way to get from the east coast (New York) to California was via Nicaragua. You would catch a steamer in New York and steam south to San Juan Del Sur, walk across to Lake Nicaragua, catch a paddle wheeler across the lake and down the Rio San Juan to the Caribean sea and then north to California. In a few short months you were across the country. Of course once they built the Panama canal and invented airplanes, the route was abandoned. Except by the pirates (of the Caribean) who would sail up the river and sack Granada. To prevent this a series of Forts where built along the river and Lake Nicaragua the most famous being El Castillo which sits at the Devils rapids half way down the river.
The river also is a natural border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua and famous for the fresh water sharks, Manitee`s, huge Tarpon (very large fish), alligators, monkeys, parrots, jaguars, Boa constrictors, you get the picture.
After our one or two days down the river we head back up to Lake Nicaragua and catch a bus heading north. Once heading north towards the mountains through the cattle country and coffee plantations we eventaully want to make it towards Leon. You can tell by my breif description that I haven`t researched this area at all. It was the option picked for Cynthia`s sake (and probably all of ours)so we don`t have to take the ferry again. Although I have heard that although the ferry has been known to be a pukefest, it is hands down the better of the two ways to travel. The buses in Nica are old school buses crammed full of people, gear, and possibly livestock (they do call them chicken buses)through what the guide book describes as `a back breaker as the bus batters its way at walking speed through gullies, rutted tracks, and mud pits when the road hasn`t been closed entirely.` Luckily it is only 6 - 10 hours until we get off. The great thing about a bus is that if you have to get off, you can, with the ferry your options are limited :)
Then after Leon we are going to live it up a little and head to the beach at the port town of San Juan Del Sur and maybe we will splurge and get a nice place that has air conditioning or hot water. Also a last day stop in Masaya to shop before we catch our flights home.
I hope you follow our travels.