It is hard to leave a beautiful place like Ometepe island. But I had to continue my trip and I made a last stop in Nicaragua in San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast. This beach town is known for its surfing and its parties. For me it was just a few days on the beach enjoying the sun and watching amazing sunsets.
Nicaragua had been a great choice for me to continue my backpacking after being in South America for a few months. The Caribbean vibes and the Nicaraguan pureness have warmed my heart. Gracias!
From the Corn islands I flew back to Nicaragua mainland and stayed for another night in Granada. Together with Justin (from Chicago USA) I took a minivan to San Jorge to take a ferry to Ometepe island.
This island in Lake Nicaragua consists of two volcanoes. We stayed three nights in Moyogalpa at the foot of the Volcán Concepción. From there we biked to Charco Verde National Park and Punta Jesus to enjoy the beautiful sceneries and the loud hawler monkeys in the trees.
Then we moved to Santa Cruz, on the hill of the Volcán Maderas, for another 5 days. Justin participated in a 25km run on the island. I celebrated the finish of the participants on Santa Domingo beach with Justin drinking some free beers. The life in the small rural villages on the island was touching and the stars in the night were bright. I wonder how life on the island will change when the Chinese start creating the Caribean-Pacific canal that will cross the lake. I guess I should be happy I visited this place before that happens.
Costeña airlines flew me from Managua to Big Corn island, 70km offshore in the Caribbean sea. With the airport in the middle of the island, it was a full day of walking along the coastline to see the beautiful beaches. The small villages were populated mainly by a Creole population. Local rum (Flor de Caña) and cocos-cookies helped me to survive the tropical storm that kept me on the island for a few days.
I liked the Caribbean vibes on the island and the lobster meals. Few tourists were on the beaches on Big Corn Island because most visitors immediately take the boat to Little Corn Island. I followed them when the water calmed down after the storm.
Just a few hours from Granada lies León, the proud capital of the revolution. This shows off in the Museum of the Revolution and on the murals in the streets. León is less touristy compared to Granada and I walked the streets soaking up the real Nicaraguan (non-touristy) atmosphere.
I had to prevent a young backpacker girl from getting robbed by a little kid with a big knife. While the kid was preparing to rob the girl's purse, I saw a glance of his knife when he followed her around a corner. The unaware target didn't respond to my shout-out, but the little criminal stopped following her and gave me an angry look. Although Nicaragua is a relatively safe Latin American country, there is a lot of poverty and crime does exist like anywhere else. Again I was warned to be cautious at all times when travelling.
After 3 months in South America I took a flight to Nicaragua. When I arrived in the capital Managua I immediately transferred to Granada. This photogenic city is situated on Lake Nicaragua, on which I took a boat tour to Las Isletas.
The area around the Parque Central is beautiful with all the coloured houses and the many churches. From the bell tower of the Iglesia de La Merced I had a great view on the city and the lake. The main tourist street is packed with restaurants and bars and felt like a Walt Disney parade to me. The first signs of mass tourism are there and some places already started to quote their prices in US dollars.
Geared with a mask and a torch I did a sunset-trip to the active Volcán Masaya, the most heavily venting volcano in the country. We climbed the volcano and needed the mask to get a glimpse of the bubbling lava through the massive cloud of sulphurous gases.