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2017 APRIL - NICARAGUA,LAGUNA APOYO, THEN HEAD FOR THE HILLS

CAN'T GET TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING, TRYING TO ESCAPE THE HEAT

DAY 58 TUESDAY 4TH & DAY 59 WEDNESDAY 5TH APRIL

We have returned to the lake for another 2 days, just because we can. It's so hot in Granada, even with the hostel pool.

The breezes here at the lake are lovely and the water is warm and refreshing. And we can sleep late, lazy around and do nothing all day and not feel guilty - ha as if we would.

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DAY 60 THURSDAY 6TH APRIL

We caught the early shuttle bus back to Granada. Man its hot today, there was a hazy over the lake and it seems to be over the town as well. I'm sure its a heat haze. Arriving back at Oasis Hostel our room was not yet ready so we just hung around in the common area. The hostel seems very busy with lots coming and going.

This will be our 10th night in Oasis with our own coming and going and we have really enjoyed this hostel.

So the main reason we came back early from the lake is because Lyn & I wanted to go zip lining. We have been meaning to go each return to Granada but only now have found the time to squeeze it in. It's really cheap to do here, only US$35, discounted to US$30 so after settling into our room and farting around it was afternoon by the time we headed out.

We paid at the tour office next to our cocktail bar and just had enough time for a quick cold beer before our transfer ride arrived. Dolly has opted (chickened) out and is going for a pedicure instead of zipping. Far enough - its her holiday too. (cluck, cluck, cluck).

On the way out our driver stopped at a petrol station for some fuel and the temp gauge there showed 39 degrees. Yep it felt it too, and not a breath of movement in the air. It's the hottest time of the year here now and they are not kidding.

We drove about 20 minutes out of town to Miravalle Canopy Tour. As we were the only ones there it was like a private tour, which was nice. Soon enough we were being strapped into harnesses, given helmets and gloves and on our way. A short drive up the hill to the first platform (this was a nice not having to scale the hill before the start - (take note Keeraya!).

So we had 3 guys with us, a big guy (big and solid) who acted as the anchor man. Before a couple of zips I was told just run into the big guy if you can't stop. Poor bugger, sure if I'd have done that I would have knocked him off his feet. Big guy did not speak much English, but when we heard we were Australian was all excited as he is a big fan of Men at Work. The 2nd guy took my camera and he was the one who took the photos and video - this also was very cool idea. Saved me trying to get any photos while concentrating on traveling along the line. The 3rd guy was the one who loaded us on to the lines, gave instructions and made a few jokes along the way. He told us how to say 'Fucking Awesome' in Spanish but I forget what it is already!

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We did about 8 zip lines and 3 swinging bridges, with the last line being a bounced one. You may have seen the videos on my FB page. (too hard to load videos in this blog). We had a great time, it was lots of fun. Although, no where near as high as the zip lines we have done in Thailand and Loas it was still a lot of fun and at the price a real bargain! Unfortunately, both Lyn & I did not bring any money with us as we would have like to tip the guys - it's a rare occasion that we do tip and this was one time we felt bad about not being able to.

The driver dropped us back near the tour office as we had arranged to meet Dolly there and decided to have a cold beer to try and cool off a little.

This was our last day in Granada and it was a nice way to finish our visit.

Back to the hostel for an early dinner and then we headed back out after dark for our final farewell cocktails at the Grill House. Also we purchased hammocks from a street vendor which we have been shooing away every time he has approached us. God knows how we are going to carry them in our already bursting at the seams luggage.

The town is packed today, there seems to be some kind of school/uni concerts on. There are teams of teens with matching t shirts from different schools from local and neighbouring countries here.

DAY 61 FRIDAY 7TH APRIL

Enjoying our last pancake breakfast at Oasis, remembering our time here. We were checked out and out the door just before 10am - a good early start for us. A short walk for a couple of blocks took us to the shuttle station for minibuses to Managua. As luck would have it there was just a minibus about to depart and we were quickly loaded into it. So we were on the road at 10am.

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Granada to Managua is only about 45km along the main highway and although we were on the 'express' shuttle the trip still took 1.5hrs of dropping and collecting passengers along the way. I think that express just means it does not leave the main road as there was nothing express about it. The fare was C$25 = A$1.11 and we had to pay the same for our bags each C$25. This is the first time we have been charged for bags and were a bit taken aback as it doubled the price of the journey. But hey 45km for A$2.22, think we can afford that.

So around 11.30am we arrived at the shuttle station, which of course was not where we could catch the bus for our next destination. The conductor on the minibus had prattled on to me in Spanish about a taxi and I guess this is what he meant. We would need to get a taxi to the bus station. An official taxi driver (with ID and all) who spoke good English approached us and offered a taxi for US$15 to take us and bags to the bus station. Unfortunately, being tourists we have SUCKER written all over us, and the fact they know we have little choice but to take a taxi. He said the bus station was across town and it would take 30 minutes to get there so US$15 was a good price. Again SUCKER. So I managed to bargain him down to US$10 and we loaded up his little vehicle and took off into the traffic.

Approximately 30 minutes later, just before midday, we arrived at a bus station, so it turns out he was being legit, I felt a little guilty for thinking he was trying to rip us off and ended up giving him US$12 for the fare.

We were pointed in the right direction to purchase tickets at a ticket window and I got us tickets for the bus at 12.30pm. Enough time for a drink at one of the cafes at the station. It's still stinking hot and all this movement is very hot and sticky and tiring, and we are not even half way to our destination yet.

No beer unfortunately, so we have a cold coke while we sit and wait for the bus departure time. 12.20 and we realize we could be on the next bus for a few hours so really should have bought something to eat. No time now for a sit down meal so we negotiate with the staff and end up with some takeaway chicken which we take onto the bus and proceed to eat, much to the amusement of fellow bus passengers. I noted we are the only tourists on this bus which confirms we are heading off the tourist trail, which is nice for a change. The bus pulls out of the station on time at 12.30 and I am glad we were early enough to purchase a ticket with a seat as there are now people crowding the bus aisle sitting on little plastic stools and some are having to stand too. Some of these people stood the whole way and they paid the same fare as us.

Heavy traffic out of the capital and broken down vehicles made our progress very slow and it took 45 minutes to travel the 1st 7 kms. In the heat, with no air con, little windows open with no breeze and bus full to overflowing. But yes I still like chicken bus travel, its about the only real mixing with the locals that we do, just a shame we don't speak their language as these ladies can chat for hours. And its cheap, this 130km cost us C$74 = A$3.28.

Finally the traffic broke and we started moving a little faster which offered a little of air flow through the bus. The landscape is grim. Very dry and brown, not much in the way of crops. We passed quite a lot of ranches where we saw cattle being corralled or roaming around in dirt patch fields. Looked like they were being fed as there was not much growing out of the ground and quite a few hay stacks were in with them.

We are heading into the hills to escape the heat a little, but from what I can see and feel its just as hot here. These old chicken buses are kept in pretty good nic as we powered up the hills with ease, passing traffic and we were way overloaded. These are old USA children's school buses so they have a much harder live down here in Central America.

Getting closer to town we passed lots of coffee drying yards. This is the biggest coffee growing area in the country and although I did not see any plants growing alongside the road, I saw lots of processing plants with huge slabs of concrete where they obviously dry the coffee berries.

So, 3.30pm we arrived in Matagalpa! They guys who unloaded our bags from the rooftop of the bus held them ransom until we paid them C$100 = A$4.43. Thieving bastards, we saw this money went straight into their pockets, but what were we to do?

So we travelled about 175km, it took 5.5 hours and cost us 25+25+97+74+34 = C$255 = A$11.30 each plus lunch.

No idea where in town we were, I had no idea which direction we needed to head to reach our pre booked hotel. I looked up the street and I saw a sign that I was happy to walk towards. VICTORIA FROST! Beer is what we needed to recover from the bus trip and work out exactly where we were. No tourists haunts here so we were in with the locals in a bar half filled with poker machines and the other half filled with drunk young men who obviously did not work today. Dolly made a friend with an older (sober man) who advised us we needed to get a taxi to the hotel, which is what we did after another beer.

A collective taxi stopped and loaded our bags, took us to our hotel, charged us the local price of C$20 = A$.89 while picking up another passenger who squeezed into the back seat with Dolly and Lyn. Hotel El Castillo is on a hill overlooking the centre of town and our triple room (with 3 separate beds) is not bad for US$30.

After settling in we went for a look around town. Yep no other tourists here, it's quite nice. And the temp is a lot cooler. I applied for a job as an ice cream seller, but turns out I am too tall for the cart and my offsider I fear would eat the profits.

There was some kind of religious procession happening in the main street with lots of devotees following behind. We found a balcony bar to have a cold beer and watch the world go by.

Funny day today, took all our energy to travel just a short distance, but it was not a bad day!

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DAY 62 SATURDAY 8TH APRIL

Breakfast of scrambled eggs overlooking the town was included in the room rate.

A relaxing morning, we caught up on some clothes washing which we could hang up on the roof of the hotel. In our room we have a TV with cable channels showing English speaking movies, which we seemed to have got stuck in front. By the time we left the room to take a taxi ride up to the lookout it was already closed for the day, so a waste of taxi fare.

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Since we were out we stopped for a beer at a corner bar and it was the first time we have seen women drinking in a bar, suppose it is Saturday night. Before heading back for some food we stopped in at the supermarket and found a bottle of coconut rum C$145 = A$6.42 - so cheap here.

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We had dinner at a little hole in the wall next to the hotel which was selling local fare. Chicken, gallo pinto (rice & beans) with coleslaw and tortillas, all for C$90 = A$3.99 = awesome value. Tasted great too!

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Posted by Cindy Bruin 21:57 Archived in Nicaragua Tagged granada buses chicken de laguna apoyo matagalpa Comments (1)

2017 MARCH NICARAGUA LAGUNA DE APOYO

Off to the lake for a bit of R & R.

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DAY 48 SATURDAY 25TH & DAY 49 SUNDAY 26TH MARCH

The crater of Apoyo was formed approximately 23,000 years ago, after a strong volcanic explosion which left a hole measuring six kilometers in diameter. Time went by and subterranean waters and rain filled the crater and the slopes became covered by vegetation. Today this crater is considered to be a sleeping volcano, in repose, with certain volcanic activity still present through a few hot springs in its interior.

The Apoyo lagoon has a surface of 2,110 hectares. It is very deep: according to investigations the lowest level of the conic hole is 100 meters underneath the sea level and the shore of the lagoon is 75 meters above sea level. The water is the most crystal-clear out of all fresh water bodies in Nicaragua and possibly in Central America. Even though it is not fit for direct human consumption, it is very clean, with a low level of natural or human contamination.

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That's it, pancakes for breakfast 4 mornings in a row is enough, time to move on. The shuttle bus collected us from our hostel and took us the 18km to Paradiso Hostel on the banks of Lake Apoyo. I have booked us here for 2 nights - a little time out from our busy travel routine to just sit around, sunbath, swim in the lake and relax.

Although we are in a dorm room (that was all that was available for us) it's ok. The room is fairly large and we only shared it with 2 others the first night, however the 2nd night all beds were full. I played the 'old lady card' when making the booking and we managed to get 3 bottom beds in the
4 bunk bed room.

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The food served at the hostel was overpriced and ordinary but as we are a captive audience here with little choice of anywhere else to go we did have to have most meals in the hostel restaurant. There website shows delicious yummy looking food but they have obviously had a change of cook since this was shot.

We did manage to find a beach restaurant on the adjoining beach that seemed to be where the locals came for the day out. This place served much cheaper beer and the food was more reasonably priced so we had lunch there both days. Deep fried chicken wings and fries

But most of our time for these 2 days was spent lazing in the sun and swimming in the lagoon. It was beautiful. Cindy took Dolly for a paddle in the canoe on the lake. Dolly also ventured out into deep water on a tube. Amazing for her.

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DAY 50 MONDAY 27TH MARCH

We had to check out of the room by 10am, so we took our stuff up to breakfast. We did not have much as we left most of our luggage back in Granada. We sat around chatting and wasting time.

We ventured to the beach next door again for a cold beer and lunch as we were more impressed by their prices than what was on offer at the hostel. We did have our dinners and breakfasts at the hostel and they were not very nice and way overpriced with prices quoted in US$.

The shuttle back to Granada was not until 3.45 so we still had most of the day to enjoy the lake.

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In the shuttle van on the way back to Granada Lyn remembered she had left her hat (the panama hat) and snorkel behind in the hostel room locker. Dolly's hat was with it as well. Panic panic !! When we arrived at Oasis hostel they phoned Paradiso and I spoke with them explaining what we had forgotten to take from the locker. They found our belongings and said they would put on the shuttle bus tomorrow for us. Phew

Checked back into our same room 'E', collected our luggage from storage and then went out for a cocktail. Which actually turned into 3 cocktails each and a happy night.

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DAY 51 TUESDAY 28TH MARCH

Today we did nothing! Nobody seemed interesting in doing anything!

At about 5pm Lyn & I walked to the supermarket to get some supplies for dinner, then she cooked at the hostel.

DAY 52 WEDNESDAY 29TH MARCH

After a pancake breakfast at Oasis hostel, we walked a few blocks to the bus stop to find a bus to take us to Masaya, just 18km out of Granada.

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The chicken bus was just C$10 = A$0.44 each way so did not break the bank. It dropped us right in the centre of the market which was selling all kinds of fruit and vege and fresh meat. You could buy a chicken ready for the oven still with half a dozen un-laid eggs in the cavity and we also saw live piglets ready to be taken home for fattening.

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Then we walked through the section that sold shoes and clothing. We saw a couple of frocks that we fancied but had to pass because of lack of space in our already bulging luggage.

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Then another big section that sold handicrafts and souvenirs from Nicaragua. To tell the truth most of these repetitive stalls were very overpriced and we did not buy anything. I don't understand how there can be so many selling the same crap and still survive. This market is on the tourist trail and apparently lots of tour buses stop here but still there seems to be a lot more stock compared to demand in my opinion.

Dolly managed to get a haircut in one of the many salons in the market and paid just C$44 = A$1.95 - pretty good job, cant really stuff up with short hair, although they would not have much experience cutting short hair as all the females have long hair and would probably only ever get trims.

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Lunch time we found a kiosk on the side of the road for a cool drink and a local snack, not sure what it was but tasted ok and it was a shaded spot to sit.
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Found our way back to the bus station in the middle of the market, Lyn purchased some ready to cook vegies C$20 = A$0.88 for our dinner back at the hostel tonight and we jumped on a bus heading back to Granada.

As we entered town we got off the bus to check out a supermarket and walked the rest of the way into the centre. It was not far but thirsty work so we went directly to our first bar for a large Victoria Frost or two to cool down.

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After dinner we watched a movie at the hostel, The Accountant. Then off to bed, we are again heading out of Granada tomorrow.

Posted by Cindy Bruin 17:05 Archived in Nicaragua Tagged lake apoyo masaya Comments (1)

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