Wow, it´s been several days now. I never had time in San Juan del Sur to post a blog and last night in Ometepe the only apparent computer was tied up for hours. I tried twice, once before dinner and was told the second computer in the hotel didn´t work. I saw someone using it later and came back when she was done and was told again just one computer… uhm… It´s very hard to communicate that this makes no sense with the language barrier. I just got frustrated and went to bed.
Anyway, catching up as the title says, we left Liberia early in the morning of Dec 31st, bound for San Juan del Sur. As a group, we decided to pass on the bus on both sides of the border and paid a little extra for a van. Fast drive to the border and then a slow crawl to get through. I truly would not have enjoyed crossing that border without a guide or at least someone who spoke spanish. We had to go through several iterations of getting passports checked, paperwork checked, etc. And then finally crossed into Nicaragua where it was just chaos, particularly not speaking the language. Had no idea what was being said, just followed and loaded bags into cabs as we took three to San Juan del Sur.
Arrived before noon and different groups drifted into different directions. The group I was with ended up walking along the beach. Pretty nice little cove with tons of boats harbored there. Still not a gulf beach but pretty.
The town was pretty nice and fairly gringo. Not hard to communicate even knowning no spanish and everything you could need. We went and arranged our next days activities and had dinner. And then onto the beach for New Years. They had a beach party we all went to. Was told it was crowded, but I have been in far more packed streets in Edinburgh and Rome on New Years. To me, it was great, not pressed against everyone but a happy celebration.
Tried to get in early, though as we had a long day ahead. Well, it was another of those days where we went different directions. I chose sailboat for most of the day. The sailboat was owned by a retired American businessman, Ralph Hewitt. He and his wife also own a hotel in town, Park Avenue Hotel. He uses the sailboat as part of a sailing school deal for youth, teaching them to operate a sailboat and help them out a bit, most are fairly underprivileged. He had two aboard with us, nice young men. And Ralph was a real hoot, had been a DJ in the past and sang songs from my parents day and quizzed on who sang them, etc.
This was my first time on a sailboat. Other than losing a baseball cap I had for a decade to the sea, I had a great time. We had some wonderful winds and went up the coast aways. A couple of the group snorkled and I even plopped into the ocean and swam a bit. I stayed close to the boat, though, because I am blind without my glasses. First time swimming in the pacific and the water was perfect for it. I floated for awhile too and somewhere in all this burned a bit. I had three coatins of SPF 50, two before the water and another when I got out and still managed to get a few blisters. Sigh! I´ve had far worse, though!
We had lunch and sailed down the coast, hoping to see some sea turles, dolphins, or whales. Only saw pelicans, but the sailing alone was great fun for someone who had never done it.
We were dropped off back at our hotel in early evening. A group of us had italian, mostly those going to see the sea turtles hatching! I have seen this on TV but never imagined I´d see it in person. Sea turtles return to the beach they were born onto lay eggs. They dig a hole and fill it with eggs and bury them. When the nest hatches, as a team, they dig out and make a run for the sea. We did this at a preserve. They also capture nests that hatch in the day because they stand a better chance at night if released and they are endangered. So, we were got a chance to see those and help release them.
Actually, although I wouldn´t trade the experience, I also wouldn´t repeat it. It was kind of nerve racking standing on the beach trying not to stomp baby turtles! We only had these little red lights (and not enough of those for everyone). I was constantly afraid I was about to crush them. After those made it in, we began to search for hatching nests. We split into two groups (about 10 each) and must have seen 5 nests just in our group. Really an amazing experience to watch the sand thrust up and all these little turtles about an inch long pull themselves into the air and get their first real strong breath of air before flopping themselves into the surf.
We then made our way back to the hotel and got back slightly before midnight.
Got to sleep in a bit the next morning. I got up and went and took some photos of the streets around the hotel as we had not sat still for long for me to do that until then. Afterwards, we grabbed another three taxis and bid farewell to San Juan del Sur.
Next stop was Ometepe, an Island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua, one of the larger fresh water lakes and I believe largest in central america. We had to take a ferry to get here and then a van from the port city to Playa Santa Domingo. There´s not much of a beach right now, though because the wet season just ended and the beach is flooded.
A nice place if you want to just collpase or maybe to naturey things. I´m kind of hitting my naturey overload point. And possibly my group activity point. Scrambling over rocks to see one of the Volcanos of the island (there´s an easier volcano later in the trip) or seeing a waterfall (more rocks to scramble over) just did not appeal to me. So, I took a local bus to this little village today, Altagracia, about half an hour from the hotel. It was gray and overcast when I got here and it started to rain lightly. So, I found an internet cafe and decided here was my chance to catch up while it cleared up. Supposedly this normally lasts an hour at most and sure enough it looks much nicer outside so I´m probably almost done.
I don´t know that I´ll ever make it this way again. The people are incredibly friendly but unless I want to learn spanish, it´s not easy to make it around here. And in Nicaragua, hot water is a luxury. When I get to another hot shower, I may stay in there an hour! It´s amazing how the little things are what you miss most. The weather is warm, the water is not really that cold, but it feels like needles hitting me in the morning when all I want is hot water to bring me back to life.
Onward to a city stroll now!