TO THE PACIFIC COAST WE TRAVEL
30.03.2017 - 03.04.2017 34 °C
DAY 53 THURSDAY 30TH MARCH
After our pancake breakfast (swear to god I will never eat pancakes again AFTER this trip, hey free breakfast is a free breakfast) we packed a small bag to take away with us and stored our big bags for when we come back.
Due to having a bit of time on our hands we are travelling backwards to San Juan Del Sur for 4 nights. Usually we would not go backwards, but we seem to have too many days left in Nicaragua to continue forward at this stage. Have heard mixed reviews about San Juan but I have booked a hostel will a pool so if the beach is complete shit we at least have somewhere to swim.
San Juan del Sur is a municipality and coastal town on the Pacific Ocean, in the Rivas department in southwest Nicaragua. It is located 140 kilometres (87 mi) south of Managua. San Juan del Sur is popular among surfers and is a vacation spot for many Nicaraguan families and foreign tourists. Its population is approximately 15,553, consisting largely of families engaged in fishing or the tourism industry and foreigners from the United States, Canada and Europe. While the local economy was, for many years, based on fishing and shipping, it has shifted towards tourism in the last 20 years. In October 2002, to mark the city's 150th anniversary, it was formally designated the "Port of San Juan del Sur" and a "Tourism City of Nicaragua." San Juan del Sur, set beside a crescent-shaped bay, was a popular resting place for gold prospectors headed to California in the 1850s. Correspondingly, San Juan del Sur served as a hub for Cornelius Vanderbilt Lines.
San Juan del Sur is a municipality and coastal town on the Pacific Ocean, in the Rivas department in southwest Nicaragua. It is located 140 kilometres (87 mi) south of Managua. San Juan del Sur is popular among surfers and is a vacation spot for many Nicaraguan families and foreign tourists.
Its population is approximately 15,553, consisting largely of families engaged in fishing or the tourism industry and foreigners from the United States, Canada and Europe. While the local economy was, for many years, based on fishing and shipping, it has shifted towards tourism in the last 20 years. In October 2002, to mark the city's 150th anniversary, it was formally designated the "Port of San Juan del Sur" and a "Tourism City of Nicaragua."
San Juan del Sur, set beside a crescent-shaped bay, was a popular resting place for gold prospectors headed to California in the 1850s. Correspondingly, San Juan del Sur served as a hub for Cornelius Vanderbilt Lines.
Bus stop was a couple of blocks away and we had to walk thought the market street to find the correct bus station. Next bus to Rivas was at 11.30 and when we got there around 11.15 and the bus was almost already full. Still room for us as we took seats near the back. Chicken bus C$31 = A$1.37 and it took 2 1/2 hours to travel approximately 70km. The bus was full for most of the journey with local passengers coming and going, mostly gringos were on for the entire ride.
Just before arriving at the bus station in Rivas, taxi touts had boarded the bus and were trying to con tourists into taking a taxi instead of buses for the next journey. They tell lies like the next bus is hours away and try to con you into taking their taxi which is like 500 times the price of the bus. Must admit the prices they quote are cheap for a taxi compared to at home, but the chicken buses are soooooo cheap that the taxi fare is just ridiculous and they would have to catch a real green gringo to con them into a taxi ride.
Arriving at Rivas bus station we were asked where we were going next and were advised the next bus to San Juan Del Sur was due to depart in about 40 minutes. Just enough time for us to save a seat with our backpacks and then disembark again to sit in a café and have a beer.
Bus conductors are very thoughtful here, he'd seen us sitting in the bar so gave a whistle when it was time to get back on the bus.
It took another hour to travel the 30km from Rivas to San Juan Del Sur.
On arrival we followed a little mud map I had taken a photo of on my camera to find the hostel. It was nothing flash but did have a tiny little pool which made up for the non descript room. Unfortunately, this place is like the most expensive place we have stayed at US$50 a night but it was the best I could find in this location that had a pool, cooking facilities and breakfast is included.
We dropped our bags in our room, and went straight for a dip in the pool. It was tiny, but it was clean and it was nice and refreshing after our double chicken bus day.
Feeling a little cooler we walked the couple of blocks back into the centre to find something to eat. We soon realized there was not much to town and what little there was is expensive and not very interesting. We found a hole in the wall to have something to eat and then went in search of a supermarket of some kind to buy supplies for dinner. Again not much around and not much to chose from.
Best part of the day came when the sun started to go down. We found a waterfront bar that sold beer at a price we were happy to pay and watched the amazing sunset.
As good as the sunset and the hostel pool was we made an unanimous decision to stay here only 2 nights instead of 4.
Back at the hostel Dolly cooked us poached eggs on bread for dinner which we washed down with a few rums and cokes.
DAY 54 FRIDAY 31ST MARCH
Breakfast was a choice of eggs, gallo pinto, bread and fruit or pancakes. No prizes for guessing which option we took, eggs and bread no gallo pinto, not quite up with rice and beans for breaky.
We took a taxi C$200 A$8.84 to get a closer view of Jesus today. Well at least to the statue of Jesus that overlooks San Juan Del Sur. Entry fee was US$2 for foreigners and US$1 for locals, which apparently pays for the upkeep of the statue.
The Christ of the Mercy is a colossal statue of Jesus Christ in the city of San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, to a height of 134 m .The statue is located highly above the northernmost seawall in the bay of San Juan.
Fabulous views over San Juan bay and the town and also a little of the cliffy coastline.
Although we had taken a taxi up, we decided to walk the 3km back down into the town. The road was steep and lined with very expensive looking houses which all had magnificent views of the San Juan Bay.
With the tide out we walked along the great expanse of beach which at high tide is lapping at the bars and buildings that line the beach.
It was hot work and we needed a vital refreshment break at an aptly named beach side bar.
Lunch was back at yesterdays hole in the wall, then we returned to the hostel for a swim in the pool. Well a dip in the pool anyway, not really big enough for a swim, but sure did cool us down again. After semi drying in the sun we all 3 had a laze in a hammock for an hour or so waiting for the time to go out for our sunset beer.
Dinner last night was so good we had a repeat performance and enjoyed poached eggs on bread with rum and coke chasers. A quick dip in the pool before bed and we are still happy with our decision to just stay 2 nights. There are shuttles that you can catch to so called nicer beaches, but they still are relatively surf beaches, good for surfing not so much for swimming in the ocean.
The white-throated magpie-jay (Calocitta formosa) is a large Central American species of magpie-jay.
The white-throated magpie-jay (Calocitta formosa) is a large Central American species of magpie-jay.
DAY 55 SATURDAY 1ST APRIL
Enjoyed an egg breakfast before we headed out to the road to try and find a bus to take us away from San Juan Del Sur. Yesterday we could not find out what time the buses go or where exactly they depart from, so we just walked towards the main street. It was not long before we heard some guy yelling out Rivas, Rivas, Rivas and around the corner was a big yellow bus. All buses here do have the destinations written on them, but you will always hear the bus conductor yelling out the destination before you get a chance to read anything on the buses.
So basically we are just retracing our steps to get here a few days ago. The bus was only half full so we were lucky enough to all get seats and only had to wait about 15 minutes before it took off.
Arriving in Rivas less than hour later the next bus to Granada was about to leave. First thought was great timing, but after I climbed in the bus and saw it was already full what looked like capacity and that we would have to stand for the next leg of the journey we decided to wait for the next bus were we would be assured to get a seat. Rivas to Granada can take anywhere between 90 minutes to 3 hours depending on the amount of stops so this is not a ride we want to stand up in a full bus for.
So we went and sat in the same café and ordered a nice cold beer. It was only 11am but hey, it was hot (good enough excuse I reckon,) Within 2 minutes the next bus to Granada pulled up so I took our small backpacks and put them inside on seats for us. Buses go every hour so we still had a good 40 minutes to wait. Best to wait with a cold beer than in a stuffy bus. Good thing we learnt from locals is that if you put your bag on a seat it means you have saved it and when we boarded the bus it was full bus our seats were still waiting for us.
We are professional chicken bus travellers now and just tend to sit back and enjoy the scenery. Dolly always manages to have a snooze (some people can sleep in any conditions). Sometimes we get to sit with a local that speaks a little English when we can have a little conversation, or a chat with another traveller from a different part of the world. Or sometimes just a smile and a shared seat is what passes the time.
Back in now very familiar Granada we made our way back to Oasis Hostel, which is turning into our home away from home. Some familiar faces still there, plenty of new faces and a welcome back from Maria the owner.
As we returned back a few days earlier we could not get a room with ensuite bathroom. But the room we did get was a little bigger and just as clean with the toilet and shower just a few steps down the hall.
DAY 56 SUNDAY 2ND APRIL
Finally we managed to get up early enough for a visit to the butterfly reserve just 3 km outside of Granada. After our pancake breakfast of course.
Not sure exactly where it was we took a taxi for just C$200 = A$8.86. The taxi driver did not speak any English so he was not able to advise us that before taking us to our destination he had to drive across town and pick up some young girl on the side of the road that seemed to be waiting for him. Not sure who she was and they did not even greet each other, but she was obviously waiting for him so it might have been his daughter and they had a pre arranged meeting agreement. So we got a bit of a tour of the town and then he turned up a dirt road just on the city limits and passed shack homes for 3 km to the entrance of the Butterfly Reserve.
We were dropped at the reserve all wondering how we were going to get back into town as this was not a road where taxis are driving up and down. However we did see a couple of tuk tuks which we hoped would be some kind of transport for us later.
A little old man greeted us swiftly giving us very useful information all in Spanish. He soon got the gist we had no idea what was being said but we all smiled and said 'Si' when we recognized the word mariposa - Spanish for butterfly. He indicated for us to follow him as we walked to the back of the property. He pointed to a path that I guess was a walk around and then took us into the butterfly enclose. Again he prattled on for about 5 minutes and all I understood was that he grows the plants in the enclosure as they attract butterflys and then named the fruit that he feeds them. With that he left us to enjoy. There was a lot of butterflys fluttering around the enclosure including the big blue ones we had seen when in the jungle. These beautiful bugs were magnificent and in abundance for us to admire, but impossible to photograph. A video I took did a little justice but they were awesome.
Before leaving we did a small lap around the surrounding bush and spotted a beautiful mot mot in a tree. We are getting good at seeing wild life everywhere now.
Our only option was to start walking down the dirt road back towards Granada and hope we catch a lift. We walked for about 15 minutes which was not very far as I am travelling with EXTREMELY SLOW WALKERS. A tuk tuk passed us but it was full of passengers and again on its return. A second one came along that was also full, but on its return journey stopped to give us a lift. We had no idea how much it was and presumed he would only take us to the end of the dirt road, but that was good enough.
Sure enough he dropped us at the main road and the fare was only C$30 (10 each) = A$1.33. We were more than happy with that and decided to walk the short distance back into town. Straight into Marcelos bar for a cold beer.
Back out again in the afternoon, walk through central park to our favourite cocktail spot to finish off the day.
DAY 57 MONDAY 3RD APRIL
Still in Granada as I did not hear back from Paradiso on the lake about our request for an extra night. They just did not answer my emails so we could not take the chance of just showing up there without knowing we had a bed for the night.
We are becoming part of the furniture here at Oasis Hostel Granada. The owner, Maria (originally from Puerto Rico) has sat chatting with us several times and has told us of her plans for the hostel. I think perhaps that we are closer to her age and honestly the young backpackers really could not give a shit what she is doing with the hostel. But she is nice and we enjoy having a chat with her.
It's hot today, correction it's hot everyday, but today is another lazy day for us. We spent the time hanging out in the hostel making use of the small but efficient pool.
We did head out late in the afternoon to catch the post office before it closed at 4.30pm. Stopped off for a beer in a different bar just for a change of scenery and walked back to the hostel via a roundabout route which took us through the poorer side of town. Now Granada is a pretty colonial town with lots of restored lovely buildings, but just 3 blocks off the main streets are the real people of Nicaragua living in much much less exuberant dwellings. They are in shacks of what looks like trash wood and rusted iron roofing. Still happy to say hello to us as we walk past, and the cheeky youths asking for one dollar. Such a contrast, we just happened on these streets by taking a wrong turn but I can guess most visitors would not dream that state of housing just blocks away from the beautiful grand Granada. No photos as I thought it would be an invasion of privacy, but just makes you think.
On a lighter note I would like to give you an update on travelling with my short hair. As most of you would know I usually have long hair but after a few cuts at the beginning of the year. I left the country with the shortest hair cut I have had since I was 12.
I thought as we were travelling to hot countries and a long trip, it would be easier to look after and manage if I had short hair, compared to many previous trips with assorted lengths of long hair.
And my verdict:
Long hair is much easier to manage. With long hair if it's hot you just need to tie it up and its done. Or for any occasion, just tie it up and its done. Short hair is much more of a pain. The fact that its short means it really needs to be maintained and styled, something I am not prepared to do while travelling. So now that it has grown out a little and really should be getting some attention, its not. Which leaves me with a style that is crossed between Eddie Munster, Ray Martin and Scary Mary, as I'm sure many of you would have noticed from any photos posted. At what stage of growth will it sit down flat??? I'm currently supporting hair 5 -6 cm in length that still has the ability to stand on end with no assistance from me and combing it gives me a helmet head look.
In future please remind me to keep long hair when I travel and Scary Mary may not appear in so many photos. Just sayin'...