Category Archives: Nicaragua

Guest Post: Victoria & Jason – One Year On the Road

Today marks one year on the road! We thought the whole trip was going to be six months, and now it looks like it’ll be more like a year and a half. You can plan for almost everything, but you never really know how long things will take, where the road will lead you, or how much you’ll love the adventure. To mark the occasion, we thought we’d take over Neli’s blog for a day and share some of the details with you.

Here’s a quick and dirty number breakdown: 365 days, 7 countries (with two visits to 5 of them so far), almost 10,000 miles, spending an average of $75 a day (which includes absolutely everything, from import permits to doctor’s visits to ferries, dog food to gasoline to souvenirs). That’s about $2,280 a month, which is basically what we were paying in rent back home. We spent one night sleeping on the deck of a cargo ferry, 30 nights in hotel rooms, 1 night in an 8-bed dorm room, 60 nights housesitting in Costa Rica and 38 nights in a rented house on the shores of Lake Atitlan. The rest of the time was spent sleeping in Bliss Island, our trusty camper.

It’s worth mentioning that we never made it to Panama. That was obviously not the plan. The trip was supposed to end in Panama City, but after we spent two months housesitting in Costa Rica, we ran into a snag in the rules regarding temporary vehicle import permits. Basically, we ran out of time, and were wary of getting stuck in Panama for three months. We’re disappointed we never made our final destination, but you know what they say about the journey…

It’s really hard to explain what this year has meant to us, with more new experiences, new friends and beautiful beaches than we could ever count. We’ve had ups and downs, but far more ups, and we can easily say this is one of the most amazing things either of us have ever done. We do have some standouts though, so here’s a quick look at some of our favorite people, places and things from our year on the road.

Food: If you know us, you know any recap HAS to start with food. We’ve loved trying the local fare in each country, stretching our palates while always hunting for cheap, delicious street carts. The fresh fruits and vegetables, while sometimes limited in selection, are always cheap and tasty. We had a ton of fun shopping in local markets at every stop.

Cooking on your own is one thing, but cooking together with friends makes everything taste that much better. We’re pretty sure that our friends Marcia and Andre thought we timed our ‘accidental meetings’ to coincide with lunch or dinner. Marcia also taught us how to make real deal Brazilian rice, our go-to at least once a week. Kenny and Jenn‘s carnitas could win an award, and inspired us to attempt recreating it. Sam and Erica made us curry, and now that we know how to do it it’s become our go-to for cleaning out the veggie box. We were also lucky enough to share Christmas dinner at Overlander Oasis with Calvin, Leanne, and a bunch of new friends. We’ve had fantastic homemade sushi with Sarah and Hani, and a sliders party with Chloe and Toby. In general, we try to prepare two of our own meals a day, but here are some of our favorites we’ve found along the way.

Mexico:

  • Random ceviche stand in Baja: the owner kept feeding us (free!) dishes we couldn’t recognize, but loved all the same

  • Roadside fish soup: we stopped to gas up and Victoria braved a roadside stand where the flies seriously outnumbered the people. Jason chickened out and ate a bag of chips, but the fish soup was outstanding, and Jason was seriously jealous.

  • Cracked crab at Ceilito Lindo Motel and RV Park: we slept in a dirty parking lot just so we could try this legendary cracked crab. It was worth every sleepless minute that night.

  • Il Vizietto in Sayulita: we returned several times to eat the homemade pasta and sauces, and to sit at the swing bar

  • Buffalo wings in San Miguel: The Beer Stop had killer chicken wings, offering a welcome taste of home

  • Taco stands: we ate at countless roadside taco stands in Mexico, and were never disappointed. Especially if it involved Tacos al Pastor.

Belize:

  • Pizza from Pizza Caulker: Caye Caulker has tons of restaurants, but this pizza was the real deal. You also have the option of cooking the country’s favorite hot sauce right into the pie.

  • Hot Mama’s: Speaking of hot sauce, we all love Marie Sharpe’s, but after stopping for barbecue in the middle of the country we discovered Hot Mama’s, which is now our all-time favorite.

Guatemala:

  • Barbecue night at El Retiro: We stayed in the town of Lanquin before heading up to Semuc Champey. They offer a killer barbecue once a week.

  • Mucho’s Gastropub in Antiqua: We stumbled upon this place on Valentine’s Day, and it has become one of our top dining experiences ever. Mucho’s would be at home in any major city, the food and drinks were ridiculous and beautiful.

  • Cactus Tacos: Also in Antigua, Cactus has an inventive and imaginative taco selection, including wasabi tempura shrimp tacos. Say no more.

  • Pappi’s BBQ: Yep, in Antigua as well. Pappi’s had a bbq sandwich that’s as long as your arm, and worth the struggle to eat every last bite.

  • Croissants at Idea Connection: The best cafe on Lake Atitlan, their croissants are the real deal.

  • Pop-up Indian: There’s a pop-up Indian restaurant at the cultural center near the Santiago dock in San Pedro. We’ll be making this our last meal in San Pedro.

  • Smokey Joe’s BBQ: Yep, we love barbecue. And Smokey Joe’s is the best we’ve found in Central America. Every Sunday at the pool in San Pedro, it’s everything you could want and then some. We never walked away without leftovers.

El Salvador:

  • Pupusas! Ranging anywhere in price from twenty-five to seventy-five cents a pupusa, we could (and sometimes did) eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

  • Tunco Veloz: This pizza restaurant in El Tunco was incredible, with a staff to match. Try every pizza on the menu, but especially the PPP.

  • Rancho Clemente: We spent one night at this restaurant/campsite close to the Honduran border. There’s no menu, it’s just what they caught that day, and what’s left by the time you get there. We had shrimp and a whole fried fish, and left full and blown away.

Nicaragua:

  • Street meat in Leon: It sounds weird, but it was incredible. Right outside the main market every sundown, the vendors cook delicious meats of all shapes and sizes, and you can pile your plate high.

  • Dessert at Imagine: We had mango bread, with chocolate fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream at this tiny, artistic spot in Granada. Sounds simple enough, but it was mind-blowingly good.

  • Cha Cha Cha: This San Juan del Sur restaurant offered great ambience and live music, but the Korean steak tacos won the night.

Costa Rica:

  • Campground cookies in Monte Verde: We spent a few nights at a beautiful farm called La Colina Lodge. The cookies they sell at reception are spectacular.

  • Pizza Cahuita: This unassuming pizza place on the Caribbean was maybe the best pizza we’ve ever had, not just on this trip.

  • Bamboo Taco: A taco truck outside of our vet’s office in Uvita. Two Americans cooking killer tacos.

  • Fresh mangos: Jason pulled fresh mangos out of the trees at our campsite near Uvita, with a bamboo pole that must have been fifty feet long. For whatever reason, they tasted extra delicious.

Drinks: Chances are if we’re eating, we’re probably drinking as well. Nothing beats an ice cold beer at our campsite after a long, dusty, bumpy, stressful driving day or a homemade sundowner on the beach while wild camping. There have been some amazing finds, however. Here are our standout drinks.

  • Mexico: Baja Beans Coffee served espresso drinks that made us feel like we were back on Abbot Kinney, with prices to match. Prior to visiting San Miguel, we thought Mexican beer consisted of Tecate, Corona and other flavorless, semi-alcoholic brews. We were happy to discover there’s actually 40+ amazing Mexican brews, and we tasted several of them at the Beer Stop. The corn-based Atole is the perfect warm drink on a cold night, though Victoria didn’t like the strawberry one. Mezcal is made in Oaxaca, and is so much tastier than tequila.

  • Belize: Even though the bottle is small, Belikin Beer was our favorite Central American brew. Try both the ‘beer’ and the ‘stout’ for the full experience.

  • Guatemala: The spicy margaritas at Cactus Taco are the best we’ve found so far. Coffee-wise, it’s a battle between Coffee Loco in Panajachel and Idea Connection in San Pedro, so you might as well try both, and more than once. Our new friend Oliver learned to make Super Splits while bar-tending in Peru, and brought them to Mr. Mullet’s in San Pedro, where they quickly became everyone’s favorite. We’ve duplicated the recipe many times at home. Thanks Oli!

  • Nicaragua: Flor de Cana, Flor de Cana, Flor de Cana. Enough said.

  • Costa Rica: Lake Arenal Brewing Company is the real deal. Try an IPA and let the awesome owner bend your ear for a night. We also loved playing mixologist with our friends at the Big Jungle House in Costa Rica. Two of our favorites were Lydia’s ‘Everything’s Coming Up Wellner’ and Heather’s ‘It Looks Nice At the Beach’!

Places We Loved: This is a really tough one, as we found something to love in almost every place we stopped. There are some standouts, however, places we thought we could potentially never leave.

  • Mexico: The entire Baja Peninsula is incredible. We can’t believe we lived three hours away from here and never visited. Can’t wait to go back! We were also surprised by how much we loved the interior, as we thought we’d spend all of our time in Mexico by the beach. We couldn’t get enough of the mountain towns, however, especially San Miguel de Allende. We’re going back this November!

  • Belize: It’s not a standout, because we would never want to go back, but Belize City is the sketchiest place we’ve ever been. It’s the one place we felt concerned, even just driving on the road. We loved our time on Caye Caulker, but it was very short (and not particularly dog friendly). Would be a great place to go back for a fly-in holiday.

  • Guatemala: Semuc Champey is one of the most stunning and magical places we’ve ever been, especially as we had the park to ourselves. We also loved San Pedro la Laguna on Lake Atitlan. The laid back vibe, great Mayan culture and incredible food make this the hardest place to leave in Central America.

  • Nicaragua: Laguna de Apoyo is a gorgeous crater lake with the best weather and water temperature we found anywhere. The kind of place you go for a night and end up leaving a week later. Playa Maderas is a little beach community north of San Juan del Sur. We could have spent months had the internet been better. Between here and Playa Gigante, we saw the most incredible sunsets of our trip.

  • Costa Rica: The entire Nicoya Peninsula is stunningly beautiful. We wished we had a ton more time to spend here. The mountain town of Monteverde is gorgeous, with a great ex-pat community to match. It’s one of the places we would consider living longer term. We spent two months in the Big Jungle House, up a mountain south of Uvita. We felt like we were living in a dream, in a 3,000 square foot home with an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, and it gave us the opportunity to spend time with friends we hadn’t seen in a year (or hadn’t met in person yet).

Relationships: You would think spending 24 hours a day together, living in the square footage of the bed of a pickup truck that our relationship would have been sorely tested. We don’t know if it’s because we lived in such a tiny house before or if we’ve just had a blessed trip, but we really never argue. The trip has brought us closer together, both literally and figuratively, and beside a couple of grumpy, long driving days it’s been smooth sailing.

We’ve also found that our definitions have changed drastically. Our definition of ‘clean’, for example, is much more relative now. Both concerning ourselves and our environment. Bathrooms that would turn your stomach back home have become an oasis down here. We’ve gone from showering daily in the US to questioning whether or not we smell after the third day on the road. Cheap vs. expensive has been totally redefined: if a beer costs more than $1.25, that’s expensive. Sleeping in late means getting up after the sun has risen. 7:30 is super late. Staying up past RV Midnight (9:30) is often a challenge.

Our lives have become much simpler. We sold 90% of what we owned, and still feel like we have too much stuff. When we were leaving home, Victoria sold or donated over 75 pairs of shoes, most of which had only been worn once, if at all. Running water is a luxury. Hot water is an even bigger luxury. Toilet seats are miraculous, though we still don’t understand why they seem to be optional in many places. Gas, electricity and internet are not basic human rights, and often take some hunting to track down. Jason has spent many frantic mornings riding in the back of pickup trucks trying to find WiFi that can handle a Skype call.

Money Matters: We thought we had budgeted six months, but at this point we’ve stretched it to over a year. The fact that Jason works while we travel, something we hadn’t counted on, really helps. It changes the trip significantly, but having money coming in definitely takes some of the stress out of the picture. Victoria also got a job at a hostel while we were in San Pedro. She made a whopping $1.50 an hour, but that often paid for a special meal or two out on the town each week, and the bar tab and free laundry were major bonuses.

Friends: Obviously we miss our friends and family from home dearly. We were lucky enough to have several visitors while on the road, including Victoria’s parents (twice!), Heather and Karyn (Venice peeps), and Lydia (one of our favorite NYC gals). We hope to have several other visitors as we make our way north, and always look forward to sharing the trip with the people we love. In addition, we’ve made a ton of new friends on the trip. There’s a unique, basic connection with other travelers that turns relative strangers into BFF’s almost immediately. It’s a shared experience and set of values that unites people from different backgrounds and cultures, creating the backdrop for some incredible nights and lasting memories.

Would We Do It Again? Absolutely! Look, it hasn’t all been legendary adventures, the ‘living the dream’ ideal that many people might think it is when we tell them what we’re doing. There’s a great deal of stress, of making do without things you used to take for granted, of dealing with sick dogs, sick people, dangerous roads, unmet expectations, car trouble and scam artists. Yet we wouldn’t trade this last year for anything in the world. Traveling always expands your perspective, and traveling slowly by car gives you the opportunity to see a country through the eyes of the locals. It’s not always about the major tourist destinations as much as the unexpected detours through tiny villages you never planned on seeing. Thriving in the unexpected is a skill, and there’s no better way to learn it than by traveling slowly. There are a ton of sacrifices inherent in a journey like this, but what you gain along the way is both hard to describe, and absolutely priceless.

We head back to Mexico in a couple of days, where we plan to use all 180 days of our visa, exploring parts of the country we missed on our way south as well as returning to some of our favorite spots. We hope you’ll all continue to follow along with us, and maybe squeeze in a visit!

01
Oct 2014
POSTED BY Neli
DISCUSSION 5 Comments
TAGS

One Year in the Life of an Adventure Dog

Napping on the beach is one of my favorite things to do!

Napping on the beach is one of my favorite things to do!

Today is the 364th day since we packed up the Big Truck and left the Wee Blue House behind. That means tomorrow will be one whole year away from home, exploring Mexico and Central America on my Big Adventure. Humans like to count things. They’re always marking time, noting dates and celebrating anniversaries. Since my blog is probably read by humans for the most part, it seemed like a good idea to note the occasion. After all, a year is an awfully long time. That’s like 20% of my life so far! Although I probably would have been content to spend the last year with our friends in Venice, laying in the sun and snuggling up in my favorite home ever, it’s certainly been an amazing experience. We’ve had ups and downs, but overall I couldn’t have asked for a better human family and a more interesting life.

Instead of going on and on about all the cool stuff we’ve done, it seemed like a good idea to let the pictures do the talking. We’ve spent the past year exploring California, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, and we’ve got thousands of pictures that tell a better story than I ever could. I hope you enjoy reliving our adventures as much as I have!

 90291, baby! This is me right before we left the Wee Blue house and our life in Venice.

90291, baby! This is me right before we left the Wee Blue house and our life in Venice.

Before we crossed the border into Mexico, we did a quick 2-week tour of California. This is me and Jason taking a break on one our hikes in the Sequoia National Forest.

Before we crossed the border into Mexico, we did a quick 2-week tour of California. This is me and Jason taking a break on one our hikes in the Sequoia National Forest.

Turns out not all of California is as warm as Venice. Here I am snuggled up in bed in my favorite American Apparel hoodie. You know what they say, you can take the dog out of LA but you can't take the LA out of the dog...

Turns out not all of California is as warm as Venice. Here I am snuggled up in bed in my favorite American Apparel hoodie. You know what they say, you can take the dog out of LA but you can’t take the LA out of the dog…

One of my favorite things about the Big Adventure is all the empty beaches we camp on. Even better than an empty beach? I don't need to be on-leash! Here I am stretching my legs on the Baja.

One of my favorite things about the Big Adventure is all the empty beaches we camp on. Even better than an empty beach? I don’t need to be on-leash! Here I am stretching my legs on the Baja.

Another awesome thing about the Big Adventure? All the new friends we have made along the way! This is me getting some love from our Canadian surfer buddies.

Another awesome thing about the Big Adventure? All the new friends we have made along the way! This is me getting some love from our Canadian surfer buddies.

Me running on the beach in Baja.  Life really doesn't get better than this!

Me running on the beach in Baja. Life really doesn’t get better than this!

My friend Olivia and me playing in the water on the Baja. I miss you Olivia!

My friend Olivia and me playing in the water on the Baja. I miss you Olivia!

I get so many tastes of human-food on this trip! This is me and Vic shopping for croissants in Sayulita, Mexico. Yum!

I get so many tastes of human-food on this trip! This is me and Vic shopping for croissants in Sayulita, Mexico. Yum!

I don't especially love the time we spend in cities but even I can admit this is a pretty cool view of Guanajuato!

I don’t especially love the time we spend in cities but even I can admit this is a pretty cool view of Guanajuato!

Family holiday of snap of us in San Miguel de Allende.

Family holiday snap of us in San Miguel de Allende.

I get left in the truck. A LOT. I spend most of the time waiting for My Family to come home...

I get left in the truck. A LOT. I spend most of the time waiting for My Family to come home…

Leanne and Calvin, the owners of Overlander Oasis near Oaxaca, got me my own special Christmas present just in case Santa couldn't find me. I loved aardvark so much but My Family left him on an island in Nicaragua :(

Leanne and Calvin, the owners of Overlander Oasis near Oaxaca, got me my own special Christmas present just in case Santa couldn’t find me. I loved aardvark so much but My Family left him on an island in Nicaragua :(

Here I am waiting while Jason gets his boots shined in Oaxaca. It took forever but Jason was very happy with the results!

Here I am waiting while Jason gets his boots shined in Oaxaca. It took forever but Jason was very happy with the results!

Me and Jason hanging out in the (frigid) pools at Hierve del Agua.

Me and Jason hanging out in the (frigid) pools at Hierve del Agua.

Vic and I out for a bike ride on Caye Caulker, Belize. It was just like when we used to go for rides back in Venice!

Vic and I out for a bike ride on Caye Caulker, Belize. It was just like when we used to go for rides back in Venice!

This is me the first time I heard Howler Monkeys, near Tikal in Guatemala. Don't like.

This is me the first time I heard Howler Monkeys, near Tikal in Guatemala. Don’t like.

Victoria' parents, Lorna and David, came to see me in Antigua, Guatemala. I love them so so SO much!

Victoria’ parents, Lorna and David, came to see me in Antigua, Guatemala. I love them so so SO much!

Me and David sharing a beer on Lake Atitlan.  He's not a very good sharer but I managed to sneak in a lick or two!

Me and David sharing a beer on Lake Atitlan. He’s not a very good sharer but I managed to sneak in a lick or two!

The first time we went on a water taxi on Lake Atitlan I thought I was going to be sick. Not cool at all.

The first time we went on a water taxi on Lake Atitlan I thought I was going to be sick. Not cool at all.

This is me snuggled up with one of the Christmas presents Lorna and David got me. Thanks guys!

This is me snuggled up with one of the Christmas presents Lorna and David got me. Thanks guys!

Victoria and Jason took Spanish classes in San Pedro, Guatemala. I went to class with them most days, but I didn't learn that much.

Victoria and Jason took Spanish classes in San Pedro, Guatemala. I went to class with them most days, but I didn’t learn that much.

Oh yeah, the puppy. You can tell how excited I was to learn she was staying with us forever...

Oh yeah, the puppy. You can tell how excited I was to learn she was staying with us forever…

Another day, another beach run. This is me shaking off after a run along the beach in El Tunco, el Salvador.

Another day, another beach run. This is me shaking off after a run along the beach in El Tunco, el Salvador.

Here we all are sitting on the wall in El Tunco. Look how tiny Maya is!

Here we all are sitting on the wall in El Tunco. Look how tiny Maya is!

Me running on the beach in Nicaragua. I really do love an empty, seemingly endless beach!

Me running on the beach in Nicaragua. I really do love an empty, seemingly endless beach!

Me and Vic on our friend Andrews island in Lake Nicaragua. Yup, we're friends with people who own their own islands!!

Me and Vic on our friend Andrew’s island in Lake Nicaragua. Yup, we’re friends with people who own their own islands!!

Maya finally got big enough to join me on beach run in Playa Gigante, Nicaragua. Here we are tearing it up together.

Maya finally got big enough to join me on a beach run in Playa Gigante, Nicaragua. Here we are tearing it up together.

Our first (of many) stops in Costa Rica. This place was full of monkeys and sloths, none of whom really wanted to play with me.

Our first (of many) stops in Costa Rica. This place was full of monkeys and sloths, none of whom really wanted to play with me.

This is me relaxing on Vic's lap on Lake Arenal, Costa Rica. I love relaxing.

This is me relaxing on Vic’s lap on Lake Arenal, Costa Rica. I love relaxing.

We spent 90 days in Costa Rica.  N I N E T Y  D A Y S !

We spent 90 days in Costa Rica. N I N E T Y D A Y S !

Me running on the black sand beach in Cahuita, Costa Rica.  Note to self:  Black Sand gets way hotter than white sand.  Ouch!

Me running on the black sand beach in Cahuita, Costa Rica. Note to self: Black Sand gets way hotter than white sand. Ouch!

Reunited and it feels so good! We ran into our German friends Doris and Torsten in a Walmart parking lot in the middle of Costa Rica, what fun!

Reunited and it feels so good! We ran into our German friends Doris and Torsten in a Walmart parking lot in the middle of Costa Rica, what fun!

Me and my friend Heather hanging out by the pool in the Big Jungle House.

Me and my friend Heather hanging out by the pool in the Big Jungle House.

Heather came to see us all the way from Venice. Here we are again sharing a glass of wine at the BJH.

Heather came to see us all the way from Venice. Here we are again sharing a glass of wine at the BJH.

One of the great things about living in a house again was the couch! Occasionally, I let Maya share it with me.

One of the great things about living in a house again was the couch! Occasionally, I let Maya share it with me.

My friend Lydia also came to see us in Costa Rica. I was her good luck charm when we played UNO.

My friend Lydia also came to see us in Costa Rica. I was her good luck charm when we played UNO.

Oh yeah, I had almost forgotten about this. Victoria made me swim in the pool every single day. Not cool Vic!

Oh yeah, I had almost forgotten about this. Victoria made me swim in the pool every single day. Not cool Vic!

On our way out of Costa Rica, we spent a little more than a week going from beach to beach on the Nicoya Peninsula. Here I am running on the beach with Victoria right before the sun went down.

On our way out of Costa Rica, we spent a little more than a week going from beach to beach on the Nicoya Peninsula. Here I am running on the beach with Victoria right before the sun went down.

Me and Jason playing on the beach in Playa Maderas in Nicaragua.

Me and Jason playing on the beach in Playa Maderas in Nicaragua.

Every night on Playa Maderas, we would all go down to the beach and wait for the sunset. My Family would drink sundowners and then we'd all run around. It was one of my favorite places in Nicaragua.

Every night on Playa Maderas, we would all go down to the beach and wait for the sunset. My Family would drink sundowners and then we’d all run around. It was one of my favorite places in Nicaragua.

Me and Victoria after we were dancing on the street in Leon, Nicaragua. What fun!

Me and Victoria after we were dancing on the street in Leon, Nicaragua. What fun!

Our second trip through El Tunco, we went to a pizza place almost every night. This is me and Maya with Carlos, one of the waiters who liked us so much he bought us treats!

Our second trip through El Tunco, we went to a pizza place almost every night. This is me and Maya with Carlos, one of the waiters who liked us so much he bought us treats!

Lorna and David came back to see us in San Pedro, Guatemala. I heard they are going to visit us again in Mexico, I can't wait!

Lorna and David came back to see us in San Pedro, Guatemala. I heard they are going to visit us again in Mexico, I can’t wait!

Whenever Lorna and David come to visit us, they bring tons of treats for My Family AND me. This time they brought me this weird chicken pirate toy that Maya and I love to fight over, even though they brought one for each of us!

Whenever Lorna and David come to visit us, they bring tons of treats for My Family AND me. This time they brought me this weird chicken pirate toy that Maya and I love to fight over, even though they brought one for each of us!

Here I am hanging out in the Little Jungle House we rented on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. It's got tons of room for running around and a great deck overlooking the lake that always has a sunny spot for me to lay on.

Here I am hanging out in the Little Jungle House we rented on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. It’s got tons of room for running around and a great deck overlooking the lake that always has a sunny spot for me to lay on.

It was super hard to pick just a few pictures that tell the story of our amazing life on the road. So I might have overdone it a little bit in this post! I can’t believe it’s been a year already. My Family says that we’ve still got a little bit more time before we have to go back home, and I intend on enjoying every minute of it. Well, except for the times when Maya won’t leave me alone. She’s awful chewy. Can’t wait to get back to our adventures, and to share them all with you!

30
Sep 2014
POSTED BY Neli
DISCUSSION 2 Comments

Nicaragua: The Return

Maya and me running in the ocean.  I'll admit it, sometimes it's fun to have a little sister!

Maya and me running in the ocean. I’ll admit it, sometimes it’s fun to have a little sister!

Although I was sad that we were leaving our overlanding friends and Costa Rica behind, I have to admit I was itching to get back on the road. The overlanding life is pretty good for us dogs. Since I don’t have fingers or a license, Jason never asks me to do any of the driving. I basically get to lounge on Victoria’s lap, snoozing away or stretching up to watch the beautiful countryside pass by.

Almost as if Victoria had heard these thoughts, the drive to the border of Nicaragua started with a rather disappointing turn of events: I was thrust in the back seat of the truck! I guess now that My Family has set up a comfy perch for Maya back there they figured it would do okay for me as well. As if! Now I have to sit next to the puppy, without Victoria’s comfy lap supporting me during the bumps and bounces! Also, Maya is getting BIG! She takes up a lot of room, and she likes to chew on my legs and face. Definitely a downgrade. I was sure I’d find a way to squeeze back onto my princess perch in the front seat, but for now I just had to grin and bear it as we drove the steamy road up to the border.

Crossing back into Nicaragua was no trouble at all, and thanks to a suggestion from our friends, I got to stay in the air conditioned truck the whole time with Maya and Victoria, while Jason handled all the paperwork. Much better than panting my little furry face off in the midday heat while kids whistle and snap at me. We drove back up the highway and into the town of San Juan del Sur, a pretty little beach community that Victoria had visited years ago, and was excited to see once again. We drove in a bunch of circles, striking out on places to stay, until a nice man that called us ‘chicos’ told us about a pretty beach just twenty minutes away that was great for dogs. Dog friendly beach? Now we’re talking!

Pretty sure this is what doggie-Heaven looks like.

Pretty sure this is what doggie-Heaven looks like.

We drove the super duper bumpy road to Playa Maderas, and found that special beach our friend had suggested. We found a comfy place to park behind Cafe Revolucion, a small brick building that smelled of cheese and pepperoni, two scents that wrap around my heart. Yes, they do make pizza as well as coffee, and yes, I did get to try it during the week my family spent at this fantastic beach!

I could chase Maya on the beach all day.  Luckily, she seems to like being chased!

I could chase Maya on the beach all day. Luckily, she seems to like being chased!

Boy, what a beach it was! There were tons of dogs around, and since Maya is still pretty much afraid of everything that made off leash time a bit tricky. We did get to have some, however, which means my favorite past-time: chasing waves! I ran until I thought my heart would leap out of my chest, biting at the waves and charging at Maya in the sand. She’s become pretty good at this herself, but she’s much braver than me when it comes to going in the water. She even started swimming a little bit! I couldn’t let her show me up, so I tried to brave the waves myself. It’s not so bad, but I definitely prefer solid ground under my paws.

Me, just taking it all in.

Me, just taking it all in.

That’s basically what life was like in this special place. My Family got to know some of the other Adventurers who were staying there, people from all over the world. I barked at all of the other dogs that tried to get close to the camper, and thankfully Maya has joined in these all important security duties. Victoria got back into speaking Spanish with the locals, and Jason had yet another bouncy ride in the back of a pickup truck, when the internet went down on the beach during one of his work days. This was after a crazy windstorm that blew out the power everywhere, and also blew away our wicker door mat. It was never to be seen again. Other than that bit of craziness, our time was spent slowly, eating delicious food, running on the beach, and taking in some of the coolest sunsets yet. I think I could have stayed here forever. Gosh, I forgot how awesome Nicaragua was!

Sunset on Maderas. Pretty sweet.

Sunset on Maderas. Pretty sweet.

Unfortunately, good internet access was not high on the priority list for the residents of Playa Maderas (that list basically reads: surfing, cheap beer, fish tacos, chocolate bliss balls and loud music), so once Jason’s work week came around again we headed back into San Juan del Sur. We had heard there might be a hostel there that loves dogs, and with a bit of searching we found Hostal Suenos del Mar. I was immediately happy we did, because the owners LOVED me. Sure, they gave Maya that puppy attention, but they knew I was the star of the show. They showed us a great room, with a huge bed and chilly floors that was absolutely perfect. So Jason parked the Big Truck outside, we unpacked and got ready to check out the town. Before we got out the door, we ran into our friend Amelie, a super nice human we had met months ago in Guatemala. It was pretty cool getting to catch up on her Adventures, with months spent in El Salvador and other cool places.

We spent several days in San Juan del Sur, and Maya and I got to walk around every bit of it with Victoria and Jason. Most people there are super nice to dogs, so we got to go in all the restaurants. It’s a really pretty town, but way busier than the beach. We stayed just long enough for Jason to get the Big Truck’s brakes worked on again (he was worried about all of the mountains we’d see in Guatemala, and a nasty squeak had developed over the past week), and then packed up and headed north. It felt like we were moving really fast through Nicaragua, but I guess My Family had big plans in mind for other spots along the way. After all, this was our ‘return trip’. The biggest part of the Big Adventure was through, and we had to keep moving. I sure hoped we’d be able to slow down at some point!

San Juan del Sur is full of colorful buildings, dirty backpackers and amazing things to smell.

San Juan del Sur is full of colorful buildings, dirty backpackers and amazing things to smell.

Luckily, we did just that at our next stop: Laguna de Apoyo. We went right back to Hostal Paradiso, a spot My Family had really loved on our trip south. The owners were super happy to see us again, and we even got our same camping spot back! We went right down to the lake to relax under the Rancho, and relaxing is basically all we did for the next week! The temperature on the lake is perfect, so Maya and I didn’t have to spend any time panting on our backs. Of course, there was the lake to contend with.

Back in our old spot.  Woohoo!

Back in our old spot. Woohoo!

By now you should know pretty well that I’m not the biggest fan of lakes. Well, any big bodies of water in fact. I don’t mind the ocean as long as I don’t have to go in. For some reason, however, Victoria thinks it’s her job to get me to go into the lake! Even Maya wasn’t a huge fan of this. I swam until the humans were satisfied, but I was much happier chasing Maya around the sand. Luckily, My Family gave up on these meaningless efforts pretty quickly, and we settled into a routine of relaxing near the water, not in it.

Plenty of room to run on the beach here! Not a bad life...

Plenty of room to run on the beach here! Not a bad life…

One day, we all had quite a bit more water than we wanted. In Central America, the summer isn’t called summer, but ‘rainy season’. That means it rains… A lot. We haven’t had to deal with that much, but one day on the lake the sky just opened up. It was almost as dark as nighttime, and when the rain started, it just pounded and pounded and seemed like it would never stop. Maya and I were in the Big Camper with Victoria while Jason was working down at the restaurant. All of a sudden we hear this huge WHUMP on top of the camper. Apparently, the tarp thing hanging over the parking area had fallen down, right on top of us! It was even blocking the door, so we couldn’t get out! Jason rushed over and with the help of one of the nice people who worked at the hostel, was able to free us and get everything back in place. That was one wet, muddy day!

We also met some really great people there. Humans from all over the world come to the lake for mini-adventures, and a super nice couple from Portland named Tom and Marci hung out with us for a couple of days. They really love dogs, and Tom even tried to get Maya to go swimming with him! That didn’t work out very well. I did enjoy sitting on their laps, though. And one night, they went swimming in the lake with My Family. Stars were out everywhere, and the beach was so quiet that Maya and I got to run around off leash, even though it was nighttime! I think that was a first. Maya was pretty brave; she went swimming super deep with them. I just ran around on shore barking for them to come back on the sand. What’s with humans and these lakes? They seemed to really like it, though, and when we left the next day we were all a little sad to leave Tom and Marci behind.

Tom trying to get Maya to go swimming.  She wasn't having it because she was afraid of the waves.

Tom trying to get Maya to go swimming. She wasn’t having it because she was afraid of the waves.

Maya and I loved Marci and Tom!  I hope we get to go visit them when we get back to the US.

Maya and I loved Marci and Tom! I hope we get to go visit them when we get back to the US.

We kept moving north, continuing our quick but crazy fun trip back through Nicaragua. It was a very short drive to Masaya National Park, where we were going to camp for the night. This was way different than any of our other stops in Nicaragua so far. It was very quiet, and there were no other campers, travelers or Adventurers around. Maya and I got left behind in the camper for HOURS while Victoria and Jason hiked up to see the volcano. Volcan Masaya is a ‘live volcano’, which means there’s actually lava and smoke and the chance of an eruption, raining rock and lava all over everything. I sure wouldn’t have picked this as a stop, and I definitely WOULD NOT have hiked right up to the crater’s edge. Like always, I don’t get a vote. Victoria and Jason seemed to enjoy the hike, although they were super tired afterwards. As the sun went down the ants and biting bugs came out by the thousands, so we snuggled up in the camper and went to bed early.

The next day we drove on to our last stop in Nicaragua, a town called Leon. Leon was super hot, super noisy and jam-packed with cars and humans. We drove around for what felt like forever before finding a parking spot in front of Bigfoot Hostel, which was going to be our home for the night. We had a nice room all to ourselves, and all the Adventurers there were super cool. It was pretty special getting to stay in all of these hostels; most places like that don’t like us dogs so much. Maya and I were more than welcome there, so My Family prepped for the next day’s border crossing, and then hung out in the lounge meeting new people.

Me and Jamie at the bar. I didn't get to try the drinks but My Family sure seemed to like them!

Me and Jamie at the bar. I didn’t get to try the drinks but My Family sure seemed to like them!

That night was maybe the most fun yet. We met tons of cool humans, and there weren’t any other dogs staying there, so Maya and I got loads of attention. The bar was packed, and Maya and I got to stay out the whole time! It’s pretty rare that we get to party with the Humans. I mean, Maya’s just a puppy, so it’s fine for her to be left home, but I’m a grownup now! We sat in the lounge chatting with all sorts of funny people, went out to the main square to eat delicious street food with our new friends Jamie and Phil (Phil runs an awesome surf camp we want to visit next time), and danced outside of a club. I love to dance, but I think at this point Maya was overtired, so My Family dropped us at home in order to enjoy their last night in this special place.

It was hard to see what exactly was cooking but it smelled amazing.  Luckily, Victoria is a great sharer so I can tell you it tasted great too!

It was hard to see what exactly was cooking but it smelled amazing. Luckily, Victoria is a great sharer so I can tell you it tasted great too!

Yep, I'm a Dancing Queen!

Yep, I’m a Dancing Queen!

Well, I’m pretty sure that when we all woke up the next morning Victoria and Jason were regretting that decision. Not only did we have to leave Nicaragua today, but we were also crossing through Honduras and driving all the way to El Salvador! After a long night of fun in the big city, My Family was a little rough around the edges. We packed the Big Truck and headed towards the border, each of us more than a little sad to be leaving Nicaragua behind (except Maya; I still don’t think she thinks much of anything yet!). The last time we were here it was insanely hot, and everyone seemed kinda miserable. We had spent another three weeks in Nicaragua this time around, and it was an absolute blast! The humans were all nice (except for those mean cops who pulled My Family over, but you’ll have to ask them about that!), the bits of food I got to try were delicious, everywhere we went was beautiful, and we made like a zillion new friends. Although we had to keep moving north now, it was pretty special to be able to go back to some of our favorite places, and check out some of the spots we missed on the way down. The drive to the border was hot, grumpy and slow, but it didn’t take away from our time in this country at all. I sure hope that we make it back again some day, on another of our Big Adventures.

PS:  To see some of the photos My Family took, head on over to Facebook.

PPS: In case you missed my posts about our last trip to Nicaragua, you can catch up here and here!

13
Aug 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Nicaragua

DISCUSSION 4 Comments

Overheated: Nicaragua Part II

Another day, another beach.  Life is hard for us Adventurers.

Another day, another beach. Life is hard for us Adventurers.

I was pretty excited as we drove away from Laguna de Apoyo towards Granada. I knew that this was one of Victoria’s favorite places, and considering how beautiful and fun the lake had been, that could only mean good things. Plus, the drive was nice and short! Maya curled up and fell asleep in her new spot, the comfy hole behind the armrest between seats, and I stood on Victoria’s lap so I could watch the city approaching.

The buildings in Granada are beautiful.  Victoria said it's because they are 'well-maintained'

The buildings in Granada are beautiful. Victoria said it’s because they are ‘well-maintained’

As soon as we got there I realized two things. First, Granada is way pretty! It’s a very old place, and you can tell the buildings have been there a super long time. There’s so many colors everywhere, which probably means there’s a ton more that I can’t even see! It’s right up against another lake too, even bigger than the one we had just left! Sweet. The second thing I realized is that Granada is WAY HOT. Holy. Moly. I’m talking hot like you can see the pavement sweating. As soon as we got out of the car me and Maya were panting, and I don’t think I stopped the whole time we were there. The roads are all cobblestone and tile, and where they hit the sunlight Maya couldn’t even walk. The sun was like some great yellow monster, snarling and spitting heat rays at us all day. As you can tell, I was plenty content to hang out in the shade.

Most of the sidewalks in Granada are tiled, like this, which makes it really easy to drag Maya when she doesn't want to walk (which is basically ALL the time).

Most of the sidewalks in Granada are tiled, like this, which makes it really easy to drag Maya when she doesn’t want to walk (which is basically ALL the time).

Luckily we had a super comfy place to stay! There aren’t any great camping spots in Granada, and since it was so hot My Family decided to find a hotel that would be okay with me and Maya too. We found a great spot called Casa Sacuanjoche. The main room was big and dark and quiet, the perfect place after hustling through Granada. There was even a curious kitten living there. I really REALLY wanted to play with her, but My Family didn’t think that was a good idea. Apparently “dogs never win”, whatever that means?

Jason spent some time working, and regrettably chose the open air courtyard just outside of our room. Nice and close to the food and water, but almost always in the sun. All I could do was lay around with my tongue hanging out. Apparently we were there towards the end of the dry season, which means it’s the driest time of year in Nicaragua. Man… HOT!

In Granada, horses pull carriages full of people around town.

In Granada, horses pull carriages full of people around town.

We spent the next couple of days exploring the area. Granada is really nice to dogs, which meant Maya and I could go pretty much everywhere with Victoria and Jason. Regrettably, the first place we went was to the vet’s office. The stupid puppy needed yet another shot. And this time I had to get looked at too! The vet was really nice, but the half hour walk almost made me cry (and I don’t think Victoria was far behind). Oh, and remember how I said Granada is really nice to dogs? Well, apparently the cab drivers didn’t get that memo.

Otherwise we had a ton of fun here. We went out to restaurants, walked through the main garden (called Parque Central, as it’s called in almost every city we’ve visited on my Big Adventure), and met some really nice and funny Granada residents. There are a lot of people who came from other places to live here, but there’s also a lot of people who were born here that speak at least a little bit of English. I guess they get a lot of Adventurers down here.

Speaking of Adventurers, we met up with Andrew, a friend of My Family’s, to go see his property. Andrew is from back home, but he and his sister visited Granada years ago and loved it so much they wanted to have a place they could call their very own. I was all excited to walk there and check it out, but then we got into a taxi, and the taxi dropped us off on the shore of that huge lake. Yep, they were forcing me onto ANOTHER BOAT! What is it with My Family and boats?! I thought this was supposed to be a driving trip! Sheesh!

This is me on the boat (!!!) out to see Andrew's island.

This is me on the boat (!!!) out to see Andrew’s island.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t so bad. It was a very small, very pretty boat, and the waters of Lake Granada are very calm. We moved slowly, and I got to sit on Victoria’s lap the whole time. Maya didn’t seem to mind at all, but still, the whole thing just makes me a little bit uncomfortable. After about twenty minutes we arrived at an island. There are hundreds of them in Lake Granada. They’re called isletas, and you can actually buy them with human money if you want to! Andrew did just that, and he’s building a hotel called El Espino. Pretty cool.

Me and Victoria on Isleta El Espino.

Me and Victoria on Isleta El Espino.

We got to spend the whole morning on Andrew’s isleta, running around off leash, barking at the water, checking out the plants, and playing with our toys. I’ve been sharing my toys with Maya, because she’s just a little baby. I don’t mind. My Family brought along Aardvark, which has become her favorite. It was a Christmas present for me, but you’re supposed to share your things. I may not have chosen to be an older sister, but I’m still going to be a good one. Anyway, our morning on the isleta was the perfect escape from the city. It was so much cooler there, and just really pretty. I guess I can sort of see why someone would want to live on an island, at least for a little while. We headed back to Granada and planted ourselves in the best shade we could find around Parque Central. My Family sipped coffee and shared their breakfast with us, and it was decided we’d leave Granada the next day. I guess we’re going to come back another time, when the weather is just a little bit cooler. Apparently it’s going to start raining around here pretty soon, so the heat isn’t quite so bad. I’m not a fan of the rain, but I would like to spend some more time in Granada! I mean, Victoria and Jason went out for a pretty fancy dinner our last night there, and me and Maya were allowed to come with them! How rad is that?!

Pretty sure there still isn't anything going on in that head.

Pretty sure there still isn’t anything going on in that head.

Goodbye, Aardvark :(

Goodbye, Aardvark :(

The next day we said goodbye to Granada and headed off to the beach. There had been talk of checking out the huge island in the middle of Lake Granada (it’s called Ometepe), but it was decided that we didn’t really have time (phew!). My Family has these things called ‘visas’, and they were about to run out. They were just pieces of paper, where could they go? I found out that humans from one country only give humans from another country a certain amount of time to visit. After that they have to leave, at least for a little while. It’s a pretty complicated process, which is why each border crossing is so long and tiring. I don’t really get this stuff. I mean, if you’re having fun and not being mean to anyone, why can’t you stay as long as you want? I guess it’s just one more of those human things that don’t make a ton of sense, once you stop to really think about it.

So skipping Lake Nicaragua, we were headed for the southern Pacific beaches. Victoria had been there before, to a town called San Juan del Sur, but we were hoping to stop a little further north. I guess San Juan was very busy, and there was another beach that was supposedly much quieter but super pretty. It was called Playa Gigante, and the name had me excited right away. Once we got there, off the highway and after twenty minutes of bouncing down a dirt road I was definitely not disappointed! Playa Gigante is a sleepy little town with a huge, beautiful beach and super nice people. Basically, everything I could ever want.

Leave nothing but paw prints (and poop)...

Leave nothing but paw prints (and poop)…

Maya is still a little bit afraid of the ocean so she spends a lot of our beach time hiding under Jason.

Maya is still a little bit afraid of the ocean so she spends a lot of our beach time hiding under Jason.

We camped at a place called Gigante Bay. This was a really fun hostel with a huge field next door for campers. We looked out our back door at the ocean, and aside from the occasional wandering dog, chicken, pig or frog, we had the place to ourselves. There were also plenty of nice people staying in the hostel, so the funky bar was always full of music, happy voices and the delicious scents of cooking. As you can tell, this stop was right up my alley!

Oh goodie, another boat!  Luckily, we didn't have to go anywhere in this one.

Oh goodie, another boat! Luckily, we didn’t have to go anywhere in this one.

The heat did not leave us alone in Gigante, however. The first day we got there was nice and breezy, and I was content running on the beach, biting at the waves, bowling Maya over and covering her with sand (ha!), and snuggling on laps next to our camper. The next day dawned hot and bright, with none of that beautiful breeze. That meant far more time spent panting on my back, with My Family stuck to the shade, trying to get Maya to come out from under the Big Truck every once in a while. It was still a super cool place to be. Jason was happy because the internet was good and the sunsets were beautiful. Victoria liked the sunny times and the great fish tacos in the bar. Maya’s always happy as long as she’s allowed to wrestle with me and eat and drink a ton. Oh, that reminds me, our meals were switched up this week! Instead of the regular stuff, me and Maya got fish, rice and vegetables for dinner! Man, you’ve never seen two dogs eat so fast! I don’t think the food even hit the side of Maya’s mouth! Trust me, I savored every bite.

Maya trying to beat the heat by laying under the Truck on our out bucket.  Gross.

Maya trying to beat the heat by laying under the Truck on our out bucket. Gross.

Our last day in Gigante was also to be our last day in Nicaragua. We only had a couple days left on those pesky visa things, but also a huge holiday was coming up. Personally, I love holidays. At home that always meant My Family wouldn’t have to work, and we could go do fun things all day. This holiday that was coming up, however, was called Semana Santa, and it was special because absolutely EVERYONE celebrates it in Nicaragua. And most people celebrate by going to the beach. My Family thought that meant serious chaos was coming, and while we were talking about it the ground started shaking. It was almost like a preview! I wasn’t scared, because I’ve been in plenty of earthquakes before. In fact, I notice earthquakes that My Family can’t feel at all. This was a pretty big one, however, and we found out later that some nice people in another part of Nicaragua got hurt from it. Not cool at all.

The sunsets in Gigante were amazing.  My Family took a gazillion photos.

The sunsets in Gigante were amazing. My Family took a gazillion photos.

With the earthquake behind us, we packed up the Big Truck and set out for the border. We were headed for Costa Rica, the seventh country visited on our Big Adventure. I can’t believe it! Seven countries? Maya is a little less than four months old and she’s already been to three countries. That’s more than some grownup people! Man, are we ever lucky dogs! Nicaragua had been a ton of fun, though I wasn’t going to miss the heat much. Victoria promised we’d be back when it was a little bit cooler, and I’m going to hold her to that. If we had had a bit more time we would have stayed anyway; there’s A LOT of the country that we didn’t get to see. For now it’s on to Costa Rica, where I’ve been promised we’ll see a ton of monkeys. What is it with humans and monkeys?

PS: You can see some of the photos My Family took here.

18
Apr 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Nicaragua

DISCUSSION 2 Comments

Two Borders, a Beach and a Lake: Nicaragua Pt. 1

Is there anything better than a new beach to explore? Here I am in Las Penitas.

Is there anything better than a new beach to explore? Here I am in Las Penitas.

I knew the day we left El Salvador was going to be a long one. First of all, Victoria and Jason dragged me out of bed just as the sun was rising. Jason’s been getting up with Maya at all hours of the night for weeks now, but I would much rather sleep in. On this morning I didn’t get a choice. We were heading out of El Salvador, through Honduras and into Nicaragua all in the same day, and there was no time for beauty sleep. There was barely time for another sniff around Playa El Cuco before we were packing up and hitting the road. Back down the bumpy dirt road, a couple of hours driving across the last stretch of El Salvador and we were at the border.

By the time we left El Salvador the sun was high and hot, and both me and Maya were panting pretty hard. I’m still not particularly thrilled with this new ‘little sister’, but I did feel bad for her, laid out on the ground while My Family got us through the border. I’m used to this process by now, but everything’s so new for Maya. She’s just a baby! Luckily everything went smoothly and we were soon back in the big truck and heading into Honduras. Since it was going to be such a long drive we gave in to a couple of comforts. There was air conditioning for me and Maya, and soda in a bag for Victoria and Jason. I’ve never seen that before, and it was certainly an adventure for Jason to drink from a bag while driving! Thankfully, that was the most adventurous part of this drive.

Jason and Victoria had been stressed out about Honduras for as long as I could remember. It was the only country we weren’t really going to see so the plan was to drive through this teensy little bit of the country, just enough to get into Nicaragua. It was only eighty miles or so, but My Family had heard the drive could take all day because of police checkpoints. My Family relaxed pretty quickly, however, as we didn’t get stopped even once driving through Honduras! Maya slept through the whole thing; I don’t think she can smell nerves on humans yet.

Although we didn’t hit any issues we did have to get through both borders in a single day, and by the time we entered Nicaragua we were all pretty tired. It was super hot, and after all the stress of a long driving day everyone was super excited to get to our campsite for the night. Luckily, it wasn’t very much further. We got out to our first top in Nicaragua, the beach town of Las Penitas, just before the sunset. We found a great little hotel right on the beach called Playa Roca, and the super nice owners were happy to have us camp there. Even though we were all exhausted, I still got a chance to run on the beach a bit. This part of the Big Adventure was certainly shaping up well. So many beaches to run on! After months of shivering at night in the mountains, all of this sun and sand made me one happy dog.

The beach in Las Penitas was empty most of the time!

The beach in Las Penitas was empty most of the time!

We spent a few days in Las Penitas, and boy was it HOT! It was hard to do much else but lay around, and thankfully there were plenty of shady spots. Maya wants to play all the time, but even she got tired of chewing on my face in this weather. I didn’t even mind so much when Victoria took me in the ocean or under the shower. This was a great beach, with plenty of room to run, lots of nice people and other dogs, and delicious food to taste. Jason didn’t have it quite so good as I did. He had to take the bus into Leon twice to get supplies and find internet so he could work. Even though lots of people go to Las Penitas for fun there are no real shops there, which makes it pretty tricky for Adventurers like us.

Maya is SUPER slow and she trips over her big feet all the time.  I'm slowly teaching her how to run.

Maya is SUPER slow and she trips over her big feet all the time. I’m slowly teaching her how to run.

It kept getting hotter, and then there were crazy dust storms that covered My Family head to foot in sand. Victoria and Jason started to seriously drag. Even Maya was running for cover. After a while we knew it was time to go, so we packed up the big truck and headed for our next stop, Laguna de Apoyo. This drive was nice and short, something I’ve noticed is pretty much normal now. Victoria says that these Central American countries are much smaller than Mexico and even Guatemala, meaning we can see a lot more of them in a short amount of time. We drove through a couple of small towns, stopped on the side of the highway so My Family could get another tank of gas for the truck, scaled a big hill and caught our first look at Laguna de Apoyo. It’s much smaller than Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, and the drive down was way less scary, but this place was just as pretty. It’s in the middle of a volcano! I don’t really know what that is, but it was pretty cool to see a lake that was almost a perfect circle. Victoria also said that this volcano has been a lake for a very long time, so I didn’t think there was anything to be nervous about.

There were lots of steps to get from the lake to our room at the Monkey Hut but I didn't mind!

There were lots of steps to get from the lake to our room at the Monkey Hut but I didn’t mind!

Our first top was a hotel called The Monkey Hut. We didn’t see any monkeys, but we sure heard a lot of them! Not my favorite thing in the world. We weren’t able to camp here, but instead we stayed in a super comfy room! We had our own private patio, which looked right out over the lake. So cool! The weather was much better here, but that didn’t stop Victoria and Jason from forcing me and Maya into the water. I did like this a lot better than the ocean. It’s much less scary. Maya’s a pretty good swimmer too! Finally, something she’s actually good at…

Maya loved laying on the cool tiles in our private room which was fine by me because it meant I had the bed all to myself!

Maya loved laying on the cool tiles in our private room which was fine by me because it meant I had the bed all to myself!

We could only have one night in the comfy room, but instead of leaving the next morning My Family decided to stay in a dorm room. This was definitely a first for us on the Big Adventure. A dorm is basically a big room with lots of beds, and you share it with other Adventurers. Jason wasn’t too sure how this was going to, and he was even less pleased when we found out that the whole dorm was going to be full of girls. Thankfully they turned out to be super nice, and Maya managed not to pee inside or cry or anything. I guess she’s starting to be a little more fun.

Laguna de Apoyo. Better to swim in than the ocean but I'm still not loving it.

Laguna de Apoyo. Better to swim in than the ocean but I’m still not loving it.

We left The Monkey Hut for another spot down the road so we wouldn’t have to share a room with anyone. This place was called Hostel Paradiso, and it was super cool. So pretty, with all sorts of levels, great grassy bits, hammocks to swing in, and delicious food I got to taste. We spent a couple of nights in our own room here, relaxed during the day while Jason worked, and spent the evenings down by the beach, swinging in hammock chairs and meeting all sorts of nice people. I’m happy to report that the travelers we met were just as interested in me as they were in Maya. As it should be.

Lots of stairs at Paradiso but at least Maya is getting better at climbing them (finally).

Lots of stairs at Paradiso but at least Maya is getting better at climbing them (finally).

Hostel Paradiso was probably my favorite spot in Nicaragua so far. This is Victoria’s favorite country, and I could certainly see why. The people were so nice, and there was loads to do. I actually enjoyed swimming here, as long as Jason held me tight. I played a bit with Maya, and got more than enough beauty sleep. We even got to move back into the camper our last night there, and met a nice couple from Switzerland who had been traveling for two years! I have to admit I didn’t really want to leave, and I think Jason felt the same way. But we had to keep moving. Victoria made reservations in a hotel in a city called Granada, so after a couple of days we got back on the road. The stress of our big border crossing day was pretty much forgotten, and it was time to see more of Nicaragua! Maybe we’ll find someone in Granada who would take this puppy off our hands. Just kidding! Well, sort of.

PS:  My Family has been pretty lazy about taking photos lately but you can see some of our time in Nicaragua on Facebook.

09
Apr 2014
POSTED BY Neli
POSTED IN

Nicaragua

DISCUSSION 1 Comment