My first blog of the year. Happy New year to everyone and hope it brings all the things you deserved, also do not forget to help those affected by the earthquake in Haiti – I believe Red Cross and other Non profits have information on how to help.
So I only spent a week in Costa Rica, mostly on the Caribbean side -Pueto Viejo. Like I said in my previous blog, Costa Rica is not for poor/broke people – seriously a plate of the food that cost $5 in Panama, cost $10 in Costa Rica. Puerto Viejo has a very strong Reggae/Bob Marley presence – everything pays respect to Bob Marley and 90% of its people wear dreadlocks. That was the only thing I liked about Costa Rica. On Sunday -January 3rd, I left for the border with Nicaragua but we got there 30mins late so I spent the night in the only hotel at the border which was the dirtiest hotel I have been to so far. The border crossing was easy and very busy so get there early.
I got to Leon, Nicaragua same day around 12 noon – I was shocked on how hot the weather was but I was not complaining either. Leon is beautiful, am glad I choose it to spend my first weeks in Nicaragua. It is not too touristy and is very rich in Nicaragua culture. There I learnt about the Sandinista, the US sponsored contra war, the revolution and Ruben Dario (the most celebrated poet & writer). In Leon, I took Spanish class at Metropolis Spanish School for two weeks. I liked the school because it is run by a Nicaraguan Woman and all the teachers are from Nicaragua – also the fact that my teacher did not speak any English at all helped. The school is adjacent the cathedral (the oldest cathedral in Central America I was told) and close to everywhere. For more information on the school, check out their website Metropolis Spanish
. My Spanish has improved – am between the upper intermediate and advance level. I pretty much understand everything that is being said to me, even though they do not pronounce their ‘S’ here in Nicaragua.
This past Friday, I left Leon with another student at the school to visit Isla de Ometepe but we stayed the night at Granada which I do not really like.
Granada is very beautiful and has all the colonial building and ‘charm’, however it feels like am in Miami without the beach – very touristy, most of the colonial houses and business are owed by foreigners and there is this one street blocked out from traffic that is filled with just foreign owned restaurants and the disturbing pattern many kids begging foe money from foreigners.
Isla de Ometepe – this city is formed by the formed by two volcanoes, there are two major islands and about 6 smaller ones. It is an experience to travel from the 2 major islands to the smaller ones because the roads are not paved and very rocky. The smaller islands are almost isolated from everything modern -that means no phone service, no internet, no bar, no discotecas and 99.5% of the restaurants are those in the hotel. Also it is very difficult to travel between the smaller islands – the bus run every now and then and on Sunday it doesn’t run, so your only options of getting around is to rent a motorcycle or bicycle or hitchhike, you can walk but it will be painful because the distance is usually more than 1 hour and uphill.
However, it is very, very, very beautiful and a great place if you want to hike, lie by the beach or just relax without distractions. Some of the interesting places to see/do are the waterfall at San Ramon, hike up either one of the Volcanoes -Concepcion & Madera, Ojo de Agua (semi-artificial swimming hole that is rich in a lot of natural minerals) in Santo Domingo, Finca Magdalena (a farm house in the middle of nowhere – reserve a room before showing up or you will get a shity dorm room) in Balgue.
On Monday, I left to San Juan del Sur – the beach town, I was surprised because I was expecting something else. Very beautiful town and a laid back vibe to it, the beach that surround the town is much beautiful and cleaner than that in Costa Rica. However the only people that will really appreciate the town are surfers because that is pretty much all to do in San Juan. I left today Wednesday to Granada because I left my backpack in the storage at the hostel. Tomorrow I will be going to Managua – the capital for the rest of the week.
Oh as for the rocking chair title – it is part of the culture here that every home has at least one rocking chair. As they say, after a hard day work – you need to relax on one of those and it is good for the back ……………. and ‘Pura Vida’ is the most popular phrase in Costa Rica, if you ask them how they are doing, their reply is pura vida -which literally means pure life.