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18th September 2015

18 – 22 September: Nicaragua – colonial cities, volcano islands and again some beach life

After the fun volcano tour we set off on Friday with a few "detours" – means some nice gravel roads - to Granada. It's really not always easy to find the way the hostel through all the one-way streets and while suffering in the sweltering heat in such a city. Thank to god it is near the centre and after a quick cold shower we walk into the city to have some dinner. In the historical centre, a restaurant lined up to the other and while walking through the street aggressive waiters try to persuade the tourists to have dinner at their place - and, as always of course, the many hawkers. Here in Nicaragua however many of them children, who you can hardly get rid of. Degrees in apparent poverty, it is not always easy to say no. But to buy something from one would mean to have the rest of the evening no rest of all the others. Finally we let us “persuade” and start with the Happy Hour (ok, that was not very difficult: 2 mojito's for converted $2.50) and enjoy a great dinner too. On Saturday just a lazy day and some more exploring of the city; it's really surprising: just one road next to the historic “main street” you find again pure “Nicaragua’s everyday life” what means simple, resp. usually very poor housing. I do not feel threatened while walking through these areas but still think it is certainly not advisable to walk there after dark. Granada has magnificent buildings and churches from the colonial period - repeatedly breached by local building. But it's also very touristy, it's a great starting point for many trips to the surrounding volcanoes, the Lake Nicaragua, etc.

Of course we do not miss that opportunity as well  and decide on Sunday to go at least for one day onto the volcanic island Ometepe. After an hour drive the Ferry will take us to Moyogapa, the main town on the island. Scheduled departure time is: 10.30am, travel time 80 minutes. In fact, then the ferry only leaves at 12.00 and it takes good two hours for the crossing; the lake was actually quite rough. Costs per person, including bike: approximately $7:50! To the rather adventurous rides up and down off the ferry I still have to get used to sort of.

The island then - apart from the main village - like from another time. Everything somehow cozy, rustic, but also even poorer. We stay on the smaller part of the island in the middle of nowhere (near Monkey's Iceland) after 20km gravel road. Simple but clean rooms, great freshly cooked dinner, breakfast: sublime!

On Monday then already more or less the last day in Nicaragua: around the island on a fine gravel road and just in time to get onto the “ferry” back to the mainland. Did I mention that the up and down driving off the ferry was adventurous? That was peanuts!; THIS time a much smaller ship. The narrow plank that was meant for the passengers to walk over, I do not want to think of anymore. I was so surprised that I should drive over that one onto the boat and the same time knew that the boat was just waiting for us that I had no more time to think. Without hesitating (eyes nearly closed) driven over it and parked my bike on the boat. That I just got through with my side luggage with lots of luck, I recognized only to the flabbergasted faces of the crew! Arriving on the other side then the boat about 1.5m from the pier, again a plank of wood, but this time the ship men decided to move the two motorcycles themselves – just to be sure and I was quite happy about that. Right and left nothing that would have prevented me from falling into the water.
 
Then a short drive to another well-known surfers spot: San Juan del Sur. After several attempts over steep and fairly hefty gravel roads we finally arrived at the beach. Completely sweaty we had of course at first a nice and cool swim in the sea and then again later on to end the evening some delicious mojito's and superb tacos.
Welltomorrow now we will already head towards Costa Rica ... Looking back, I have the feeling that Nicaragua was the poorest countries of Central AmericaIt's really hard to believe how people partly live hereand not just in remote areasThe many begging or junk-selling childrentheir not-existent chances to a change in future make me pensive. Yet all people with whom we had to do always friendly, often even joyful encountersThe nature incredibly beautifulthe streets surprisingly ok - and with that I mean the majority of gravel roads - prices for us tourists more than affordable.
Nicaraguadefinitely worth a visit ....