Greetings from Nicaragua,
Rule 1 of social etiquette: Never ask a blind man for directions.
Just recovering from a mamouth walk up the side of a crater, it took 3 hours longer than expected but was well worth the effort. We are in Granada in Nicaragua and have visited a fare few places since our last blog, unfortunately I reached the word limit last time so forgive me if I skip over some of the last week.
Our bus departed La Ceiba on time and we trundled the through the ever increasing mountains, we felt safe as there were no guns on board, how do we know this, because everyone was frisked on boarding and 3 men had to give over their handguns, one of which was a revolver the size of my arm and would have made a hole in the side of a skip! It´s good to know that the gang violence will continue though as all gentleman were reunited with said firearms as they arrived. Tegucigalpa was far better than we expected, the pace was frenetic but it had real charm, the wolf whistles came thick and fast (for me of course) and we had a great meal of shish kebabs in a tiny restaurant catering for the bus drivers. Before leaving the next day Em and I scoured the banks to find someone to change a huge wad of Belize dollars we are still in possesion of, to no avail we resorted to hitting the main square and getting gritty with the local ´coyote´money changers waving their bricks of currency in the air. The square wasn´t too difficult to find in this pretty city centre as I asked a couple of locals, after waving a map and gesticulating wildly in front of one guy wearing some great raybans, his friend pointed at his eyes then pointed me in the right direction....away from his blind friend. No success on the cash front but not to worry, my HSBC Bad Boy account is holding up to the onslaught!
We hit the Honduran frontier early afternoon and had the pleasure of my first border crossing where both coutries share an office, such a pleasant thing to see after a succession of heavily armed borders and a mile long no man´s land. We slung our increasingly heavy bags (Ems reading speed is out of control, I have half of Central Library in my bag) onto another school bus and meandered along the forested roads into Ocotal. This town cannot see many tourists at all, after the first night I am certain we were the only whites there but there was never an iota of hostility, the town is a very traditional nicaraguan place with sleepy streets, a heavy religeous influence and a brilliant girls 5-a-side footbal team, dont ask. We spent some of our time there accosted by a schisophrenic´tour guide´(note the speech marks) who was clearly a local prostitute and thought God was her boyfriend with me running a close second, it is always nice to have a backup.
Now, I dont want to waste many of my precious word count on the capital of Nicaragua, Managua, all you need to know is that our hotel owner carried a revolver, the food made Em sick and we will never go back. One think it did do was make arriving in beautiful Grenada all the more pleasant. Early morning in Managua we were slung onto one of the frantic minibuses scuttling around the whole of central america where the ´conductors´hang out of the side screaming their destination and pulling in anyone who may or may not wish to go somewhere. Grenada just an hour down the road has a lovely feel similar to some of the mexican towns we visited, the buildings are painted in bright colours and our hostel next to the main market, an attraction in itself, is an ancient building with great hammocks and is run by an extremely religious couple, the woman loves us, her husband hates us. We have spent a great few days here, our Spanish is coming on really well and due to our tans we are looking less like a Bennetton advert everyday! Grenada is sited on the banks of a huge lake that stretches almost from the carribean to the atlantic and is dotted with both extinct and active volcanoes, tomorrow we are heading to an island called Omotepe made exclusively of two volcanoes, the last eruption was 1957 but I am hoping that enough magma is still bubbling away for my beloved Emily to have herself a little accident and I can cash in on the insurance money!
As I mentioned earlier we have just finished a great walk at Laguna de Apoya, a huge crater lake, and been abused by Howler monkeys screaming at us from the trees, the views were spectacular and the local farming communities the friendliest people we have met so far, it wasn´t even tarnished by a bus driver charging us 30p instead of 20p for a journey, I´ll get you yet Manuel!!!!!
We are off for tea now and a nice cold Tona beer, have a great week and thanks again for letting us know how you are.