A Travellerspoint blog

Surfing volcanoes and waves in Nicaragua

...and taking medicine until now as result


View our round the world itinerary on shiriandre's travel map.

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Another wired border crossing

We decided to go from Guatemala to Nicaragua in one shot, not stopping in El Salvador or Honduras, what we would know will take time and will be quite adventurous. What we didn’t know, and found out only at the last minute was that the agency that sold us the regular bus ticket in fact sold us a “chicken bus” (imagine riding over 14 hours is an old American school bus, with room for your legs the size of 1st grade school kids legs and having to sit straight up all night and worry about your bags…), so we had to pay extra and take a regular one.
Well, crossing 4 countries in one night has its adventures as well, Some quick stories:

  • As soon as we left Guatemala City, the bus crew distributed fake DVD’s to all the passengers (except us), in order to be able to go through customs freely. Every passenger got around 10 DVDs and gave back after Nicaraguan customs.
  • Just after leaving the El Salvador border, an old lady (a passenger by the way) started to ask from each one of the passengers a US$1 per luggage to give to the customs officials. According to her, this should make them avoid searching the luggage. We’ve just pretended that we had no clue what she was saying…
  • When we dropped off the bus in Leon, we were so glad to make it with no problem, just to realize that our camera (the survivor from the “tale of the 3 cameras”) and Shiri’s iPod were stolen from her handbag….. taking a cheap regular bus instead of a fancy tourist bus can cost you a lot more sometimes :(

Leon

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Deciding not to let the robbery drag us down, we very fast found out that Leon has to offer: some small and not well kept colonial building and churches plus a chain of 5 volcanoes, from which the youngest one, Cerro Negro (only 158 years old!), is also the most active one in Central America.

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Church in Leon

Next day we went to what was supposed to be the highlight of Nicaragua: Volcano boarding. We would climb up Cerro Negro and slide down on a small wooden board, and we just saw in the GH that people can reach up to 80km/h on that way down!

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Cerro Negro volcano crater

We climbed the volcano (by the way not an easy climb – walking over volcanic rocks holding the board, fighting the wind and heat…), took some pictures and went down….and so everything started…. Shiri lost control of her board at 62km/h (almost a record for women) and it hit a rock, was thrown up in the air and off from the board and landed on the floor (better saying volcano rocks). Result: She had all her right upper back and arm aching and some numbness feeling in the fingers. We’ve been at the doctor that gave her some medicine and asked for resting. So we moved to a GH with swimming pool where we could rest and do nothing for a week…

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The “Before picture” - we are the second and third from the left. Thinking back, a long sleeve suite and a pair of snorkeling goggles are not really going to protect you at 60 km/h crashes…

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The “After picture” – hanging out at the pool, waiting for the medication to kick in

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Nicaragua independence parade, for 2 weeks, everyday, twice a day a different school would march up our street with their drums and trumpets. And if that’s nt enough to disturb your rest (doctors order!), everyday at 4:20 a.m. and 5 p.m. fireworks and church bells would go on reminding you to celebrate it….By the way, fireworks in central America are all about the sound effect, nothing to see. Is it just a matter of budget or don’t they know about the good fireworks?

San Juan Del Sur

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After a week (almost) without leaving the GH in Leon, we decided to move to the small village of San Juan Del Sur, where we could change the atmosphere and go to the beach as well, and I (Andre) could take some surf lessons :)

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The sunset in SJ is so gorgeous that we couldn’t stop taking pictures :)

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Football match at the sunset

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Some instructions

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Ok, not a big wave but for the first day is great just to stand on the board!!!!!

Isla Ometepe

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The 2 volcanoes seen from the ferry

The isla Ometepe is an incredible island in an “8” shape with 2 volcanoes, one in each side of the 8! Ah! We almost forgot to say that the island is situated in a lake (Nicaragua lake) that should contain some sharks!

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One of the volcanoes in Ometepe

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Charco verde, a small protected area with really nice fauna and flora

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Ok, another sunset picture…. This one from the punta Jusus Maria – a small starch of land going inside the lake (what a name….)

One really strange (and now funny) thing that happened there is while we were on our siesta before dinner, a group of young men threw through our window a piece of wood shaped like a dick. Latter on they continue throwing some more wood (not shaped) until we closed the window. When we tried to find the GH owner to change room, we saw a policeman, so we gave him the “dick-shaped-wood” and complained about the guys. The policeman didn’t know what to do and went back and forward with the “dick-shaped-wood” in his hands…. Probably the gift is still in the local police office :)

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Inside a chicken bus, the only part of the drivers window that doesn’t have a religious sticker is broken….

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Women washing clothes in the lake

Posted by shiriandre 09:51 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (1)

שנה טובה

Shana Tova - Happy new year

Dear friends,
we wish you all a wonderful new year -
lots of health, love, peace and peace of mind.
May we always be surrounded by our friends and may we always feel free to do all the stuff we feel like!

Shana tova :)

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Posted by shiriandre 10:45 Tagged events Comments (2)

(Almost) Volunteering (again)

When things go wrong, just move forward…


View our round the world itinerary on shiriandre's travel map.

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That’s the first post that doesn’t start with a picture of ourselves, since we don’t have any at Lake Atitlan….

To Atitlan Lake with local (chicken) bus

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After leaving Antigua we decided to go by local bus, which in Guatemala means old American School buses, painted in a very colorful way, and supposedly overcrowded by people and all types of (live) animals. As chicken is the standard, those buses are known (even by locals) as chicken bus.

Well, we didn’t see animals, not even a chicken! Apparently our luck with chickens was only in China :). The trip was not bad, even if we changed the bus 3 times, it took us almost the same time as the tourist shuttle. For both of us, it was the first time in an American school bus :)

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Old (and sometimes, not that old) American school busses, painted in bright colors at the Antigua “bus station”

San Pedro la Laguna

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The lake Atitlan is very unique, since it is surrounded by volcanoes with small towns on the very bottom of the Volcanoes. We head to San Pedro where we were planning to stay for some days and just relax on the beaches of the lake.

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Details from one house in San Pedro

After a couple of days we saw the opportunity to do a teaching volunteer work with the local kids. Our plan was to teach English and computation (better saying, basics on how to use the computer) to small and poor children in the region, and for that we contacted a language school that helps the community whenever there are volunteers available.

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Kayaks to be rented on the lake

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Old lady with typical dress

Just before our duty week was supposed to start we went to the Chichicastenango market (even if Zvika and Racheli told us not to) just to have a different day there. Even if it is a very touristy market, we could do some nice pictures there, but in the end a pickpocket stole our wallet, and a big part of our week-volunteering budget.
As result we just decided that Guatemalans are not the ones we really want to help (see “Guatemalan People” part), and to head straight to Nicaragua, where we hope we will be able to put our volunteering plan in practice.

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”Action” at the market, bored child seller

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Pilgrim on the church steps with the incense

Guatemalan People

We were told that one of the best things in Guatemala is its people…. Unfortunately we will have to disagree with it. The nice locals we’ve met are not a unique thing in Central America, but some other encounters really annoyed us:

  • Smiling border policemen that charged an inexistent fee to allow us entering the country.
  • Guest house receptionist at a place where we really wanted to stay that told us 2 days in a row tht the place is completely fuul. At the 3rd day, when finally got dorm beds we found out from other people that the place was half empty before (typical efficiency…).
  • Local pick-up truck drivers that gave us the wrong change on purpose (and leaving fast and smiling after we complained).
  • Horse owners in Mt. Pacaya that kept bumping into us on the way up, offering their horses every second and blocking the path.
  • Bus conductors that told us to drop off the local bus not at all close to where we were going.
  • Hostel owner that didn’t allow us to seat in the common area with the others guests just because we didn’t order dinner there, needles to argue that we were hosts there…
  • Pickpockets at the local market…
  • Tour driver that wanted to leave people at the Pacaya, at night, because they followed other guide in the way down, needles to say that our guide even didn´t notice that there were people missing.

Posted by shiriandre 19:55 Archived in Guatemala Comments (3)

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