San Juan del Sur

We took the shuttle today from Granda to San Juan del Sur, near the border with Costa Rica on the Pacific side (I was wrong earlier thinking it’s on the Carabian side). The trip was a quick two hours over some bumpy roads and we settled down at Casa Oro as the recomended hostel in the area. Nowhere near as nice as the place we stayed in Granada, it’s kinda in a sad state. There’s no running water at the moment, but they say that’ll start working soon.

Anyway, the beachfront here is picture perfect beautiful. Blue skies, little boats in the harbor, huge sand banks, the works. The beach here in town is a little gross. When walking on it later in the afternoon, we found jelly fish washed up to shore and some gross looking yellow foam. Apparently you have to go like 10km up or down the coast to find the really epic beaches in the area. We had lunch at a little place on the beach. Sadly there wern’t many options for me (beans and rice), but the seafood look good. Jamus and I walked along the beach and the town area for a while, which isn’t much more than a strip of pavement and some small streets that go back, then headed back to the hostel.

After getting back and relaxing for a bit, we met up with some other travellers and went out and had some more drinks and food. They’d also just arrived from Granada, so we were swapping stories. We went back to the local beach and hung out for a while and tried to avoid (but coudn’t) the kinda-gross water. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll make our way out to the better beaches; there are a few groups of travellers here in the same situation as us that might go as well (e.g. arrived too late to make the bus out).

Now we have a bit of a quandry on our hands. Our flight to Mexico City leaves Friday at 4pm from San Jose, Costa Rica. I want to go to the beach tomorrow morning and leave for the border thereafter, but transportation is hard to come by. The border crossing takes a few hours due to the traffic at it, so if we leave tomorrow morning we’ll get San Jose probably some 6 or 8 hours after we leave. Thus, we need to figure out what we’re going to do. Later tonight, it’s probably just dinner and hanging out. This sleepy little town doesn’t have much going on, outside of travellers and a some 6,000 locals so it’ll be a quiet evening.

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When You Wake Up Too Late (Or Another Day in Granada)

We woke up at 930am, a tad bit late for the 830 bus to San Juan del Sur. Woops. So we stayed in Granada for the day. We lounged around the hostel for most of the  morning. Sadly, they were out of their typico breakfast (which has been by far the best Nicaraguan food I’ve had thus far) so I had to settle for a “continental” breakfast. We didn’t leave the hostel until about 1:30pm and made our way around the colonial city parts of Granada. Quite pretty, reminded me a lot of Georgetown in Malaysia.

After walking for a while around the central square and the Cathedral, we ended up settling in for lunch at Tesoroes Ohos (or something that meant third eye), and I had a very good meal with little tapas. Not really Nicaraguan, but good food is good food. We ordered a drink called Michelada Nacional, which was a beer with something that tasted like Worchester sauce and black pepper. It was very different than anything I’d had before. I can’t say I really liked it, but it was worth trying. Apparently it’s all the rage in Mexico right now.

We finished lunch around 4:30pm then went to the museum for a little bit. It turned out to be a pretty sad state of affairs so we only stayed there for a short while and left, retraced our steps back and came back to the hostel. As short as our jaunt out was (3 hours or so) we managed to take 170+ pictures. We chilled at the hostel again for a while until we started to feel hungry and walked around to a pizza place that Jamus had ate at with the PCV folks a few days back. The pizza was good and by around 10:30 we were back (yet again) at the hostel and relaxing in the hammocks. A peaceful and full-of-nothing day in the end.

Our tickets for San Juan del Sur are booked for tomorrow from the same company that brought me from the airport. It was funny, when we went to the ticket counter, it was the same folks who had actually picked me up from the airport. So we leave for SJDC tomorrow at 8:30am. I’ve packed up my pack and we’re ready to leave to the (supposedly) unspoilt and untouristed beaches on the Caribbean coast. Now it’s off to bed as Jamus and I are playing potentially friendship ruining would-you-rather.

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Laguna de Apoyo, Granada

We went today to Laguna de Apoya, a small (ish) lake cut out a crater. Our bus left at 10am and Jamus and spent the entire day lounging around the lake in the small cabana-ish area that was outside of it. The lake was made from a volcanic crater that resulted an a very blue and windy pocket between mountains, all made seeminly from the same volanic activity. I had forgotten to bring any swim gear for this trip at all, so I did not get to go in the water (even tho they had kayaks!), but I did manage to buy a swim suite this evening.

For lunch, we walked along the beach area to another resturant up a little from where we were in hopes of getting true Nica food. We found it, ordered some dishes recomended and much to our disappointment, they were pretty awful. Full of oil and fried cheses (and not in the good way), we must have ate just over half of what was served to us. We spent the rest of the afternoon just lounging in the sun and talking the usual nonsense that we do (including a few rounds of would-you-rather).

Our bus went back to city proper at 4:30pm, so we got back around 5pm. I got my camera and went out to the city to take some pictures. For the first time on this trip, I felt uncomfortable carrying my DSLR around so I didn’t stay out for too long (plus, the light was leaving). We found a grocery store, bought some stuff that we needed and headed back. Generally speaking, walking around here is a little sketch. Nothing to be afraid of, but I’ve heard some bad stories that have put the appropriate level of concern in me that I’m letting my spidey-sense be overactive.

After putting the camera back, we found a swim suit for me and then came back again to the hostel and took a dip on the pool for a while. The water was super super cholorinated, and it was slippery in my hands. Needless to say I rinsed off intensly after getting out. We went to a Nic/Mex place for dinner and had a NZ guy who was also at our hostel join us. He’s been working-traveling for the last four years all over the world, refusing to settle down in any one location more than a year. His current plans take him to Chile. Awesome.

We have yet to figure out what we’re doing tomorrow. One option is Leon, another is some island in a very big lake that’s the landmass created from two volcanos, and another is a beachy area near the Costa Rican border (San Juan del Sud? the name escapes me at the moment). I have a feeling we’ll stay here in Granada for another day and head out on Wednesday for another location in Nic.

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Arrived in Granada, Nicaragua

Finally, I´ve made it to Nicaragua. I left Jersey this morning at 630am and almost missed my flight since the people at the airport could not for the life of them figure out how to reissue my ticket today with the new routing. I ran thru Newark and made it with minutes to spare on a little Embrair to Norfolk, VA. The flight was quick and quite beautiful. It went down the entire coastline and there acutally was lots to see. Norfolk seems like a cute little area, with beaches and trees and all sorts of stuff that would make it a fun place to spend a few days in the summer. I´ll have to go back again for a holiday.

From Norfolk, I caught my flight (on another Embrair) to Houston. It was a bit long, but I managed to sleep through most of it. At the Houston airport I parked myself for a while in the Continental club, which is perhaps the best club I´ve ever been to (altho I can say I have not been to a lot). Well decorated and located, plus the amentities were excellent too. From Houstin, it was on to Managua, where I landed about 20 minutes early. The imigration officer had a nice little chat with me, confused that I looked like I could speak Spanish but my name didn´t make any sense to him.

The van service I´d had arranged for was ready to pick me up right outside of bagage claim and it was a quick 50 minute ride or so to Granada. I came to the Oasis hostel, which is really nice. Free internet, phone calls, a garden in the middle and more I´m sure. I found a place to make a call to Jamus, and he´s on his way here now from dinner to meet up.

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Snow and Canceled Flights

I’m snowed in. In grade school this would have been an awesome day but it means my flight from Newark to Houston has been canceled and there’s no way I can make my Houston to Managua flight today. I called Continental this morning to try to reschedule and it said the hold time was “290 minutes”. Um. I ended up calling the number for Continental in Nicaragua and got through in about two minutes. The lady wasn’t very useful and my mobile phone dropped the call, so I ended up calling the number in the states again which just rang busy.

So I called the number in the UK and was connected within a minute to a very helpful lady who searched routes on partner airlines, other airports and the lot. In the end she was only able to get me a flight out on Monday, so I took it for the time being and figured I’d call back later. Indeed, I called back later to the US number after looking for availability online. I got through within ten minutes, but the guy at the US call center was completely unhelpful and useless, so I gave up with him and called back later.

The next lady at the US call center was equally useless and I basically had to tell her what to look for and how to route the flight and what options were available to her. After much haggling, I ended up showing her a route via Norfolk, VA tomorrow that she could book and she was able to move me on to it. I feel bad for most folks who don’t have most hubs and partners for airlines memorized, that they have to deal with these incompetent ticket agents. They probably end up hitting a brick wall with them and get stuck in these places until like Tuesday (as the lady first suggested to me).

We dug the driveway out of snow and ice this morning, which took an hour and a half. The weather has seemed to warm up (it’s 1C right now) and they’re saying the storm has passed so fingers crossed that I’ll get to fly out tomorrow.

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