I never wanted to come here. That was my last thought when finally leaving Fort Lauderdale after a 12 hours delay caused by ash clouds over Costa Rica. But that’s the way it should be on a world trip, I thought when sitting on the plane. The original plan was to go the US, fly to Canada and cross the country. After that get a plane down to Lima (Peru) to explore South America for 4-6 weeks. Now, 6 weeks into the trip, I’ve already changed my original plan x times (can’t even remember how many times exactly) but I’m pretty sure that I want to spent at least 2-3 month in South America after I’ve explored Central America.
How my Central America adventure started: After 4 very relaxing days in Miami Beach I fly to San José in Costa Rica, where I spent two nights before moving on to La Fortuna in the province of Arenal. I explore La Fortuna Waterfall but skip the hot springs as prices are pretty high and it is pouring rain for two days. Anyway, I’m on my way back from the waterfall and it starts raining. I kept my head high and am certain I’ll make the 3,5 kilometres back to the city center without hailing an overpriced taxi. After 20 minutes a cars stops and two Dutch girls kindly offer me a ride to the city. How could I have said no? That was one of those moments I am glad that travellers stick together. Having a coffee together in town I listen to their stories and tell mine and find myself being very happy to be in the backpacker mode again.
The next day I hit the road with a French guy I’ve met in the previous hostel on a bus-boat-bus ride to Santa Elena Monteverde. The view from the Lake Arenal is stunning. The bus ride is spectacular as well but as roads are pretty bumpy in Costa Rica I am more focused on fighting the motion sickness.
When in Monteverde, you choose at least one of several ways to explore the world famous Cloud Forest. I choose the bridge walk instead of the popular canopying and enjoyed every minute of it, walking across 12 hanging bridges on top of the tree tops.
In the afternoon I discover how close I am to the Nicaraguan border at that time and a thought struck me. Maybe I should cross the border and explore Nicaragua for a while as I’m that close. Right? I mean that seems kind of obvious ;-)
So, I spontaneously book an international bus ticket for the next day. I catch the 4:20am public bus that brings me in only short 2,5 hours to the Inter Americana from where I’ll get my international connection. Crazy border and unexpectedly meeting the French guy again, I arrive in Granada (Nicaragua) late afternoon that day. I fall in love with the vibe and street life of the city, exploring the post colonial city with all it’s charms. The cathedral, the local market and the view from Iglesia La Merced are my favourites in town. Most excitingly I get a tour to Volcano Masaya, which is now active since May 2016 and I really get to see lave for the first time in my life.
Hitting the road again by multiple minibuses I go to León. The one thing you have to do in the second hottest city of Central America is to walk the rooftop of the cathedral (make sure to get there before 4pm).
From there I go on to a small adventure to the Surfing Turtle Lodge on Isla Los Brasiles. To get there I go by bus, boat and horse carriage (I feel like being beamed to a different era). The lodge is the perfect place to relax, located at the waterfront and nothing else around. First evening in, we even get to see a few sea turtles on their way to the water and their first swim in the ocean. That is so exciting I feel like a little kid again.
The Somoto Canyon is next on the agenda as a day trip from the small town of Esteli. I book a guided tour with Tree Huggers. After a 2,5 bus ride on the typical Nicaraguan chicken bus, me and several others are picked up at the bus stop. A short car ride later we meet Henry’s, who organises the tours. We receive a short introduction and overview of what we’ll be doing the next 4 hours and pre-order our lunch for after the adventure. It is a 2 kilometre hike to the point where we enter the canyon, so close to the Honduran border, that we actually see the crossing stations of both countries. We walk, climb, slide and jump in the canyon. Views are incredible and I’m one with nature. The whole tour is a great experience and I feel total freedom on the way to the bus station, when sitting on the loading area of the pickup truck and wind is blowing through my hair.
Back in Esteli I’m a bit lost as I had a pretty rough few days with lots of travelling around in the heat and also a 3 hour dentist visit in León that was pretty painful and scary (when used to European dental care and hygiene). Nevertheless there has to be a next move and so I go to Matagalpa but not really sure what I’m looking for here. Turns out the city is bigger than expected but there is not much to do when not hiking uphill or going to one of the coffee plantations.
I’ll be leaving in the morning for Isla Ometepe, where I’ll hopefully find some peace and adventures again.
I’ll keep you posted…