LAST DAY IN LEON THEN AN OVERNIGHT SHUTTLE TO A NEW COUNTRY #4
12.04.2017 - 17.04.2017 30 °C
DAY 66 WEDNESDAY 12TH APRIL
Our last day in Nicaragua was sunny and hot like all the previous days in this country have been. We checked out of the hostel at 11am, and then just hung out around the pool until it was time to go out for some lunch. We are allowed to stay at the hostel until 3pm, but we decided to move to the Blue Hat hostel after lunch and a last swim in the pool. The Blue Hat hostel is associated with the shuttle company we are travelling with tonight and they allow use of the hostel for passengers at no charge. Very generous considering the shuttle does not depart until 8pm.
This will be our first overnight travel and we are not particularly looking forward to it, just there was no choice but to take the over night shuttle into El Salvador which delivers us to our next beach destination, El Cuco. Our only other option would have been a series of chicken buses which may have ended up slightly less expensive than the US$30 each but would have been a two day travel needing an overnight somewhere anyway. So will just have to suck it up, arrival time at 4am is not ideal either as check in is not until 2pm. Guarantee we will get sunbeds by the pool tomorrow.
Dolly & Lyn took our luggage in a taxi from Lazybones to Blue Hat. I walked as we are down to our last cordobas and only have enough for 2 passengers in taxi not 3. lol so I walked in the heat, it was only 20 minutes.
Blue Hat is nice, but they did not have triple rooms or a pool that is why we did not stay here. But it's nice that we can hang out here now. There is a Pali supermarket around the corner so after dropping the luggage and waiting for me to arrive, we walked around there for supplies. Lyn is cooking dinner for us before we go as we have access to the kitchen here.
We also purchased a couple of bottles of rum to take to our next destination and a six pack of cold beers to drink now. I did say it was hot.
After our beverages, we walked back to the centre in search of a bank to get some more cash. ATM dispense US$ as well as cordobas and since El Salvador uses US$ we needed to stock up on some more money. I managed to get a chunk out yesterday, but bloody Citibank would not release another chunk to me today. Dolly managed to get some too so we should be set for our next 5 day stop which is away from ATM's.
On the way back to Blue Hat we stopped by ViaVia for one last icy Victoria Frost but they did not have any cold so not only did they miss out on the sale of a few bottles, but we missed out on a cold drink. Back at the hostel there were a couple of coldies waiting for us. I returned to the nearby supermarket for some more while Lyn cooked dinner.
So now we wait, fingers crossed the shuttle is not full and we are not shoved in like sardines for the next 8 hours.
See you in El Salvador!
DAY 67 THURSDAY 13TH APRIL
That was not a trip from hell, but it was its little brother!
We crossed the Nicaragua/Honduras border somewhere around 11pm, I think. Our courier collected everyone’s passport along with US$8 each ($2 to depart Nicaragua, $3 to enter Honduras and his fee of $3). We were allowed out of the van to stretch our legs at the Nicaraguan exit border and the courier took our passports altogether to be stamped. Same procedure at the Honduras entry border, however we were told not to get out of the van as it was very dangerous and the doors were locked. The driver got out to go relieve himself behind a tree, but checked that our door was locked before he moved away from the van. That was a little spooky.
We are just passing through Honduras into El Salvador and the road was absolutely horrendous. If anyone had any thoughts about trying to have a sleep whilst sitting upright in a van these thoughts were smashed to smithereens as we weaved all over both sides of the road trying to avoid the massively potholed carriageway. It’s not the distance that takes the time to travel this route it is the condition of the road. Our driver tried to navigate a smooth path, unfortunately he was unsuccessfully as this was an impossible task, bonused with the added stress of animals (cows, horses and dogs) randomly standing, walking or crossing the road.
At the El Salvador border we again had to exit the van and this time we were given back our passports and had to line up to be stamped in. It was the middle of the night and there was just us here so it did not take long. My officer asked me a question in Spanish and just rolled her eyes when I said I did not speak Spanish. Must not have been too important as she just handed back my passport and motioned for me to move on.
We arrived in El Cuco at exactly 4am as advised with a total of about 3 minutes’ sleep each. The village was of course still asleep. The van stop was at Casa Canela where they dropped off 2 passengers who luckily were booked in to stay there. After a lot of door bashing and whistling someone was finally aroused enough to let them in. This was our stop too, but knowing we needed to go on further we were dropped at the taxi drivers house, who was also aroused after a bit of yelling and door bashing. He very kindly put 3 plastic seats out on the footpath for us to sit on until he was ready to take us to our accommodation. He advised our resort La Tortuga Verde (The Green Turtle) did not open until 6am so there was no point going just yet. So, we sat and waited, it was still pitch black.
Next door to the taxi drivers home was the local village mill and this was a hive of activity at this time of the morning. Ladies walking in with tubs of unknown balanced on their heads and walking out with these tubs full of tortilla mixture. I had a bit of a nosy and could see dry ingredients and water being fed into a giant mincer type machine and out the bottom came the doughy tortilla mix. Probably these women are up every day at this hour to collect this to make the day’s tortilla, it was still dark.
Around 5am a bashed-up car pulled up and the taxi driver came out of the house so we realized this was our ride. We loaded up the heap and climbed in. It was not far, about 5km up a dirt road to our resort, which was still closed. Luckily there was a night security guard to reluctantly let us in after we paid the taxi fare of US$5. It was just
Unfortunately, the night guard could not find our reservation on his list, but reluctantly let us in after I showed him my print out of the reservation. All this was worked out without the assistance of a common language. There were a few day beds in the reception area which we were just about to crash on when he returned and showed us to some beds in a dorm room. We crashed! Lyn woke up at about 9am and we thought we should get up and see if we can get into our own room otherwise we may be charged for the dorm beds.
Of course, check-in was not until 3pm and the room was no chance of being ready before then because the occupants had a late 2pm check in. Great.
We had little choice but to hang around the cabana area which we were soon evited from as they were all pre-booked by day trippers. We ordered breakfast and ate it, found hammocks and vegged out for the rest of the day. The resort filled up around us with literally hundreds of locals all come to have a good time at the beach. There was music, food (that was purchased from the resort – no outside food or drink allowed to be brought in) and everyone having a good time. We were still shattered and by the time the afternoon came I had a migraine coming on.
At 2pm I asked about our room and it was still being occupied. At 3pm I asked about our room and was told it would be ready in 10 minutes. At 3.30pm I asked about our room and was told it was being cleaned as we spoke. At 3.32pm I lost it and spat the dummy – migraine had kicked in by now. Requested they come find us when the room was ready. At 3.40pm Byron (an American staff member) found me and showed me to a room with one double bed. Keep calm, keep calm. My head was throbbing, I was ready to throw up and the room we had been waiting for was the wrong room anyway. He left and Lyn gave me some good headache pills which started to do the trick almost immediately. Byron advised he would be back with the correct room key.
We waited a good 15 minutes and when we looked around the corner we saw Byron was talking to a couple of familiar faces. Well familiar to me anyway, recognition for Lyn did not kick in straight away when we spotted Toni & Shawn Lemon. Toni and I had conspired back in Australia to meet up here where both our travels crossed as a birthday surprise for Lyn. Well it was definitely a surprise as Toni was hugging her hello before the light bulb finally come on and Lyn realized this was people we knew in the last place we expected to see them.
Finally we were shown to our room and then spent the rest of the afternoon/evening catching up with the Lemons.
Cocktails and sunset on the beach.
DAY 68 FRIDAY 14TH APRIL
We spent the day with the Lemons and some of the other pax from the Intrepid Tour they are on. Us and this tour are following a similar path but going in opposite directions, us north and them south. It only took a little bit of planning for Toni & I to find a common location where our paths would cross. It was just lucky that it coincided within a day of Lyn's birthday, so birthday celebrations are a day early as the they move on tomorrow.
It was a fun day!
It was interesting to observe the contrast between us travellers and tourists doing a tour. We are visiting many of the same places - following the common gringo trail through Central America - but we will have totally different experiences. Our travel is much slower to start with, using public transport that we have to wait for and organize our time around and I have the wonderful task of having to find us a bed to sleep in every night. Although I must admit with the internet this is now a lot easier than it used to be, we now always have a booking to go directly to, I don't have to scout for a room on arrival at our destination. Thank goodness because after 4 hours in a chicken bus the last thing I want to do is walk around trying to find us a room. But sometimes I think it would be nice to be collected at the door front door of one hotel and delivered to the front door of the next one, but I guess that is what you pay for. I'm not knocking tours, if you have limited time and enough money they are a great option as you will be taken to all the sights and shown to a bed every night. An organized tour would never be my first choice but if there is one on offer that delivers what I am after for a price I am will to pay then I will definitely book a tour. EG trip through Burma at end of my last travels in 2015.
These guys on the tour here, have and will do many more activities than we will do, but our budget for a longer trip makes us have to pick and choose extra paid activities. Must admit our much slower pace and multi night stops suit me much better, as does not having to get up for a 5am transfer.
DAY 69 SATURDAY 15TH APRIL
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LYN!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LYN!
The resort is pumping today. We met the "Tom" the owner of La Tortuga Verde this morning, he was sitting in reception when we come to try and get internet. He said to us they? will not give him good internet at this location. I said to him you need to throw some money at the right people (which he can well afford as the place was packed already and he was charging the day trippers an entrance fee), with this he walked away in haste and we never saw him again. Hid in his office no doubt counting all the money we was raking in for this Easter holiday weekend.
Anyway there was nowhere for us to sit as all the cabanas had been pre booked or were taken up by customers who arrived before we went next door for breakfast. There was easily a couple of hundred people at the resort and spilling out to the beach where they had a huge stage set up and what looked like a football tournament happening. Tents selling drinks and snacks were set up on the beach as well. We thought it best to have a walk down the beach and leave it to them.
It was hot and after walking for about 30 minutes it was time for a beer and we stopped at a little local shack on the beach, which we thought would be cheap. As it turns out they were no cheaper for beers than our resort prices, although I think more they were taking advantage of the gringos more than anything. But the view was good and we sat and enjoyed the cool beer.
After our drinks we walked a little further up the beach and stopped for a swim in the ocean to cool our outsides. We took turns at going in the water as there seemed to be a lot of people about and we did not want to leave our belongings unguarded on the beach.
By the time we had walked to the far end of the beach, the town beach, we could hardly believe our eyes. If we thought is was crowded back at the resort, well this had nothing on the amount of people in and out of the water at the town beach. Never in all my life of visiting numerous beaches all over the world have I ever seen so many people. There were food and drink tents set up along the beach which were all packed full of literally 100's of people and there was another couple of hundred in the water. Us 3 walking up the middle of this lot we stood out like dogs balls, especially since we were in swimmers and the locals, men, women & children alike, all swim in the ocean fully clothed. We don't quite understand it, but not one person besides us was in a swimming costume.
We stopped for another beer and managed to get gringo ripped off again so decided to start making our way back the 2.5 km back to the resort.
Another stop halfway back for a swim.
Back at our resort the entertainment was still well underway with singing and dancing on the huge stage.
Dolly was exhausted after the days big walk and tried to get a lift in a wheelbarrow back to our room.
We hid out in our air con room until it was time to go next door for some dinner. By the time we returned from dinner the crowds had all gone home and it was quiet.
DAY 70 SUNDAY 16TH APRIL
Today we had another day of doing absolutely nothing!
The crowds were still here, so most of the day we hung out in our air-con room reading books. It was a very lazy day, didn’t even make it to the ocean for a swim.
Hunger forced us out of our room at around 4pm and we walked the short distance to the house a few doors up to have some food. The lady there (who speaks absolutely no English, so we order via sign and sound language) is so happy to see us and the food is tasty and cheap. Lyn and I had a whole fish each and Dolly had chicken, all served with rice, tomato and a slice of avocado. The three meals plus 3 beers and a couple of cokes (that were mixed with our bring your own rum) came to a total of US$21.
During the meal we sat watching the TV which the lady had set up for us and given us reign of the remote. Not much in the way of English channels, we watched the last 20 minutes of Jaws 2 in Spanish. We all knew the story and the shark was not doing much talking anyway– entertaining enough. Next up came Robocop 2. Awesome! Not that Robocop was an awesome movie but it was in English! We had finished dinner, Dolly had scabbed a biscuit from one of the owner’s young sons and next thing we knew she came out with coffee for us all and a biscuit each, to have while we finished watching the movie. Lovely lady. As we were waiting to pay the bill, she was whispering to a teenage girl then walked up to us and said in English, ‘thank you for coming!’ Beautiful, it’s times like this that not speaking the language is missed the most, as it would be so nice to be able to chat with this woman.
It was dark by now and the walk back to our room revealed most of the day trippers had left and the place was in silence again. I wonder if Easter Monday is going to be a big day as well?
At around 9pm we heard fireworks and from our front door could see them being let off up the beach. We had a pretty good view and they went for about 15 minutes, so a decent amount of money wasted. I’m guessing they were up near where all the locals had been on the beach.
DAY 71 MONDAY 17TH APRIL
Today we were up and out at an almost reasonable time to go for breakfast, only to discover our backyard restaurant was closed. The big wooden doors to the property were closed and there was no sign of anyone. Bugger! Let’s hope she is open for dinner.
We had heard there was another place further up the street on the left so we decided to have a little walk and see if we could find it. Find it we did, but was also not functioning. Luckily there were a couple of small stores where we could buy some supplies to take back to our room where we have limited cooking facilities and make breakfast. We purchased 6 eggs, 8 small dinner rolls, 1 litre of coke (for the rum later) and 3 cookies (for the coffee & tea later) & 2 small tomatoes, which came to a grand total of US$2.50.
The Egg Poaching Queen (aka Dolly) cooked us up some lovely poached eggs which we ate with the little rolls.
There are hardly any cars in the carpark today and the one across the road was empty so I say today is not a party day and it may be a little less crazy here today. We need to find someone who can speak English and has the information for us to get a bus to our next destination, because tonight is our last night here at La Tortuga Verde.
Today we are doing a cull! Culling all excess clothing. Clothes we have not worn or clothes we are sick of wearing or clothes we are sick of carrying. Shame we did not think of this yesterday when the crowds were here as we could have set up a clothing stall and made a bit of beer money. I guess the house maid is going to get a bonus and hopefully they will all go to a good home and not just get tossed in a bin.
For our first swim we headed to the beach at about 12.30pm. It was deserted, gone were the Easter crowds. The tide was out and it was a fair old hike to even get to the water. The water temp was warm as usual and there was quite a strong pull out. We stayed in long enough to cool off then headed for a spare cabana where I took up residence in a hammock while Lyn and Dolly chose a sunbed each in out in the sunshine. It was not long before they needed another cooling and we entered the water again. Before we knew it the rum was calling and it was time to head back to our room to water our insides.
Lyn went to the shop to get a couple of potatoes that we were able to cook up for lunch with some canned sardines. By this time we were well into the rum.
I spent the afternoon catching up on some finance work while the others read books. By this time we were well into the rum. Yes repeat.
Come 5pm and there was a suggestion for another swim, which we all agreed was a good idea. By this time we were well into the rum.
After our swim and a chat with just about anyone and everyone on the beach we discovered we had missed the 4.30 – 6.30 happy hour, as it was 6.40pm. We managed to talk our way into getting 2 for 1 pina coladas (not that we needed any more rum) and everyone was happy.
Byron bribed us into giving him a tumbler of our rum in exchange for bus information, surely this information should be given for free? By this time we were well into the rum. And we asked him to write us a note to our restaurant lady saying we had some clothes that we no longer needed that she may want.
We enjoyed the happy hour cocktails, there only seemed to be the volunteer staff at the bar besides us. On the way out to dinner we stopped at the reception to asked for our bill to be tallied up to be collected later.
Stopped off at the room to get the 2 bags of excess clothes and walked a couple of doors up to our backyard restaurant. We gave the note and the 2 bags to our lady and she was over the moon. I’m so glad we thought to give the stuff to her instead of just leaving for the cleaning staff. She kept thanking us and even modelled a few items. What a gem.
I think she have us a discount on our meals tonight as only charged us US$10 for 3 chicken dinners. It was hugs goodbye after I said we were leaving tomorrow.
I collected our bill from reception, seems to be all in order. We need to be out on the road tomorrow by 8am to catch the bus out.