Archive for March, 2014

What I did last summer pt 3

Posted: March 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

Nicaragua

At 5 am in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, I woke up and was ready to start the day. Anytime I am traveling, I never needed an alarm clock because I am usually so excited, I do not sleep. I checked last night’s left over Chinese food, which was now covered with ants. Hungry, but out of time, I grab my 45 to 47 pound pack (give or take) and head downstairs to catch my cab. I was on my way to Nicaragua.

When I arrived at the bus station, I was taken aback at the line of the terminal. There were at least 10 people waiting to buy tickets. Bummed, I thought to myself, “Man, you should have gotten your ticket last night, but instead you were shopping and trying to get something to eat, which you didn’t finish.” So I hailed a taxi to another bus station, which was beat-up and run down, but hey, this was a place the taxi driver said I could grab a ticket so here I go. I put myself on a wait list and sat down, talking with missionaries about their trips. About an hour went past and I boarded the bus going to Leon.
Traveling from country to country, there is a word that will strike fear in the hearts of men and women. The moment you hear it, thoughts will come to your mind, making you tremble – customs. Yes, customs. The all incredible time wasting, money sucking thing. Like many countries in Central and South America, you have to pay to leave. Yes that’s right, you have to pay an exit fee. Now this is where my issue comes in. If you know me, you know that I almost never carry cash, and that was the problem. The customs agency was in the middle of nowhere and if you did not have the money, you weren’t crossing that border. So I’m scrambling, looking for an ATM and no dice. At this point, I have no shame. I went up this young backpacking couple and told them of my plight, and they hooked me up. I was now relieved and all the couple asked me to do was pay it forward, which I did. That is the thing about the road, people look after each other and share what they have.

As a backpacker, one of the ways you get around is by bus. I have ridden so many types of buses it is crazy. From luxury to school buses, I have been on them. Some may ask, “Why ride a bus for hours when you can just fly?” Well for two reasons: You are a backpacker, so you are all about saving money. Why pay $200.00 for a one way plane ticket when you can spend $50.00 on a plane ticket and put the rest of the money towards traveling longer. You’re a backpacker, you’re supposed to be roughing it! The other reason is that when riding a bus or a train, you get a chance to see the country its self. Riding the bus to Nicaragua, I was able to see how beautiful the countryside was. The wonderful landscape, cows in the street, people working the fields, serene lakes, the hills, and more cows in the street. While riding, I hung out with two girls from the UK. All of 18 and 20 years old, they spoke in an English accent and had an exciting energy. It’s something about travel that brings strangers together.

backpack photo

After a couple hour ride, the girls and I were dropped off at a gas station in the middle of nowhere (see the trend?). We were like, “I thought we were getting dropped off in Leon?” The bus driver said, “This is Leon..” See this is a classic example of a transportation issue when traveling in Central America. You have to be very specific in where you are going. The girls and I dashed to the gas station to grab some cash and snacks when we spotted a taxi advertising for a hostel. Cheap stays and two free drinks for each day? Sold American!
Arriving at the hostel, it was a party vibe. Young cats walking around sipping on drinks, people playing pool, and listening to music. It was a pretty cool place. We checked into our rooms and then headed out for dinner before the pub crawl.

Walking around Leon, you can see the Spanish influence. The architecture definitely leaned towards Spain. The buildings, although some damaged and under-construction, were these beautiful structures. The streets were filled with vendors selling different types of food like chicharones and fresh pineapple out of wheelbarrows and carts. Donkeys and horses freely walk down the street leaving their waste behind and overall everyone has a good vibe. Leon is mainly a college town, so many of the stores catered towards young folks and travelers, so there were mad internet cafes and places selling memory cards. The weather, while overcast, was very cool, unlike many places in Central America which were crazy Humid.

The first night, the English girls and I grabbed dinner and went on a hostel sponsored pub crawl around the neighborhood. One bar in particular we went to was this lively place with live Spanish music, people dancing on the bar, and everyone at tables drinking, “Flor De Cana,” the rum of choice. It was such a cool time talking with different travelers about their experiences while we drank and listened to the great music. Good, good times.

Nicaragua3

The next day in Leon was spent wandering around the city, eating more street food, drinking more with the group, and just hanging out. As much fun as I was having in the city, I wanted to get to beach or an island, and one city kept coming up – Poneloya. There were so many things that I had heard and it just stoked my imagination. I had to go.

Nicaragua2

Next – Las Penitas, Getting sick, and how lame volcano surfing is.