Not sure who if anyone is following this blog but yet again I’m hijacking the topic. For the next month or so I’ll be using this blog to report on my travels in Nicaragua.
Many people ask me why Nicaragua and frankly the story is likely weirder than they expect. Not work related, no friends here and no strong desire to see the country but with some serious vacation time to burn I needed a place to go and had some requirements that Nicaragua fit.
The fully story is that I used Fare Compare’s Where to Go Getaway Map with the slider feature to find cheap airfares. With a free trip to a major hub thanks to some frequent flier miles my options were primarily Central America, Iceland and either Peru or Columbia with Central America being the least expensive. I toyed with the idea of Iceland but the actual cost in the country made it not possible for this particular trip.
Once I settled in to Central America I asked around about cheap countries for travel within Central America. The overwhelming consensus was that the cheapest country for day-to-day expenses was either Nicaragua or Honduras. A good friend of mine had recently rode his motorcycle from Seattle to Tierra del Fuego and knew both countries relatively well. I sent him a simple text “Honduras or Nicaragua?” and he responded “Nic”. I booked the flight a few days later.
At the time two back to back red-eye flights didn’t sound so horrible and frankly they wouldn’t have been had it not been for the fact that I arrived in Nicaragua at about 2am. I’d booked a private hostel room for the first three nights and had some issues the day I was to arrive but fortunately it was all worked out and a private room was mine. I wish I could say it was awesome but frankly it was a crappy room at best. Serves me right for counting on Lonely Planet and other backpackers’ recommendations. I didn’t think to check so I wound up with no hot water and a room directly next to the outside courtyard… aka the smoking area and drinking area. The windows here are slats that open so there’s no closing out the sound. The first night I slept for about 5 hours and last night not much more. While none of this would be a big deal the place wasn’t cheap and that’s the real bummer. I don’t mind getting a crappy room for cheap or a nice room for a decent chunk of change, but paying more for a gross place… not so much. I was glad to learn the little mouse turds on the sink were really just termite droppings of some sort. Still, it turns out I like my luxury more than I’d care to admit.
Christmas here already
The days in Managua were interesting. Managua has no downtown and most importantly no street names so getting around was less fun than it could be. When I say no street names I don’t mean they aren’t posted, I mean there are none. At all. You can probably imagine how much fun it is to get around a spread out city with no street names when you don’t speak the language. I was very thankful for a fairly good memory and sense of direction. Since I do app reviews I also had a good app in my pocket for just such an occasion. While I don’t normally post these things here my GPS loving friends will love that this app actually tells you the GPS coordinates of wherever you are. It won’t show you a map but points you in the general direction of the marked location you want to find. That’s often good enough for me.
As I walked back to the hostel the first evening I came across a huge election celebration. Turns out these have been going on since the election complete with fireworks and all night celebrations. Fortunately the one I heard was fairly tame. It’s still interesting to see people still celebrating many days later. A fellow traveler commented that you could tell how much people had going on in a particular country based on how long they celebrated these types of things. Considering that there wasn’t some big political change happening it seems like there must not be a lot for the youth of the country to do here.
Today’s travels took me to the Hotel California. I was hoping that the English-speaking owner would be here as a friend of his sent me this way but sadly he is somewhere else. I got quite a bit out of my interaction with the desk worker here but the part about where the owner was I couldn’t understand. The bus ride to get here was interesting. Two hours crammed in a bus literally packed full. I was lucky enough to have a seat and really couldn’t complain but it was more than interesting to be the only non local person on the bus.
These little bikes are everywhere. I can has?
In all thus far Nicaragua has been good but difficult. I keep wishing I had Bob with me as everything would have been considerably easier with him here. That said, the traffic here is crazy so I’m guessing it’d been stressful in its own unique way.
I’m now on my way to Ometepe though I may stay one more day at the Hotel California… there is plenty of room after all.