Hiking Telica Volcano

Yesterday, so many people struggled with the wind during the climb up Cerro Negro that nearly half our group bailed on the hike up Telica Volcano. I wish they would have bailed before the guide, who listened to all the complaining about Cerro Negro, shortened our scheduled hike by three hours. But I think there were only two of us that voted against a shorter hike, so we were out-voted regardless of many people ended up going.

The good news is this tour required an all wheel drive vehicle, and the tour provided two large vehicles for only seven of us, so we got quite a bit of space. Barb, Silvia and I traveled in car while Connie, Isabella, Janet, and Linda followed behind us.

Once again we stopped for water at the market before we continued for at least an hour to Telica Volcano. We turned off the Pan-American highway and onto a dirt road. Amazingly, not only does this one lane, dirt road provide a way to the volcano, it is also a bus route! A school bus comes twice a day to shuttle the families who live in the area into town. I saw the bus pick up some riders, but there was not an official bus stop (as we would know it), so I am not exactly sure how the bus schedule works. Of course the road is also home to ox, horseback riders, and tourists too!

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The road got rougher as we drove further past the farm land and into the forest. Eventually, we reached a very small area with a tree or two where we parked the vehicles and prepared for the hike. The trail led us up one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua that erupts about every four years. We climbed loose, red volcanic rock beneath the bright sun. The light breeze was welcome, and frankly I found myself thankful for the unseasonably breezy week which kept away bugs and cooled us down on most days.

Grass, flowers and ferns managed to grow along the volcanic trail though we didn’t spot any trees until we reached the summit and looked down at the prairie on the other side of the ridge. The Telica Volcano is comprised of overlapping cones and craters. We climbed to the most prominent vent which is 700m wide and 120m deep. We could look inside the top and see the gases rising from the bottom. Had we hiked at night, we could have seen the lava. Not only was it cool to see its active, open mouth, but also it was cool to see Nicaragua’s tallest volcano, San Cristobal, which stands almost a mile high. Depending on the direction we faced, we either saw volcanic mountain ranges or farmland or both. It was quite beautiful.

After breathing the gas on the summit for a while, we descended the opposite side of the ridge to the prairie lightly covered in grass, volcanic rock, flowers and an occasional palm tree. Upon crossing the prairie, we came upon some horses that took shade beneath the only large tree. Farmers are allowed to let their horses roam on public land due to the draught. I was saddened to know the horses didn’t have a water trough. We were told they get watered a few times a week. After checking out the farmland, some of which was on fire, on the otherside of the volcano we reversed our course and returned to the ridge where we climbed away from the volcano to a small weather station that took a variety of readings.

Eventually we returned to the cars, and ate our lunch in the shade of the few. I think it took more effort to stay seated in the car while four-wheeling down the road than it did to hike to the summit of the volcano. We had a fun drive and hike before returning to the hotel in mid-afternoon to pick up the rest of the group for our transfer to Managua for our final night of the trip.

American continued its terrible service on the way home. The engine on our plane wouldn’t start for five hours, thus Alex and I missed our connections in Miami. I got rebooked on a 7pm flight from Miami to Denver which was to land at midnight. I asked where it stopped given it is a 3.5 hour flight, and I gain two hours. A midnight landing was much too late. I was told it didn’t stop anywhere. I knew something had to be wrong, but didn’t know what as I sat without internet access at the Managua Airport. I got so bored, I finally had to go buy a $29 book about the assassination of a Nicaraguan dictator. It’s funny because the only place that was expensive in the entire country was the airport!

They did succeed at serving me my breakfast at 1 in the afternoon:

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Later I found out it stopped in Charlotte, but we would remain on the same plane. When they switched me to USAir out of Miami, their computer systems were incapable of adding my status or Global Entry/TSA precheck on my boarding pass. Before I entered Miami customs, I had to get another boarding pass with my benefits (which were paid for) so I could make it through customs with some ease. Amazingly, when I requested a new boarding pass, they told me I couldn’t get a new one without me showing my global entry card. I told them that was BS because my number was in the computer. How stupid did they think I was? They finally printed me a new one.

When we landed in Charlotte the flight attendant announced an aircraft change which ended up booting me out of first class on our final flight which was oversold. It finally left and landed in a major snow storm. The roads were treacherous and driving more than 40 mph invited spinning out on the highway. I got to bed around 2am instead of getting home at the scheduled time nine hours earlier. At least I got 5,000 extra miles for all the inconveniences!! Oh the pains we have to go through to enjoy a cool vacation! 🙂 ETB

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Sand Boarding Down Cerro Negro

Our group piled into the van and after stopping at a market for water, we took an hour ride out to Cerro Negro. Our drive took us from the paver streets to a dirt road that we shared with oxen, horse drawn wagons and more. We passed by peanut, sesame, and yucca farms. One peanut farmer was very resourceful. His family hung carved, painted airplanes on a wooden mannequin by the fence-line with a sign indicating the price, $5. Our driver honked to notify them that we wanted to support the local economy. The family also hung a cooler with bags of juices and tea for the locals.

At the base of the mountain we rented our wooden boards that looked like flat sleds, goggles, gloves, and jumpsuits for $10. Just renting the sled only cost $5. We drove just a bit farther before we started our trek up Cerro Negro. Cerro Negro, or black hill in English, is a very young volcano in the Cordillera de los Maribios near the village of Malpaisillo. It has erupted 23 times since its birth in 1850 with its last eruption in 1999. Its lava flows from fractures at its base while ash spews from the top of the cone.

The cinder cone stands at 2,388 feet high. With our gear slung over our shoulder in a somewhat useless bag and with our sled in both hands on the opposite side of the wind, we climbed a trail of loose, sharp volcanic rock. The 40 mph hour wind speed kicked sand in our face. If the sand wasn’t enough to contend with, the gusts were so strong that we had to hold the sand board with both hands to keep it from flying away. Sometimes the light weight girls came close to flying like Mary Poppins as we were blown from side to side. Our guide Miguel said it was unseasonably windy this time of year.

After a few rest stops, we made it to the summit in an hour where we enjoyed a remarkable view of the valley below and multi-colored volcanic cones in the distance. We suited up into jumpsuits, gloves, and scratched goggles that skewed our vision so badly it was dizzying as we waited our turn to follow one of the three tracks down the steep terrain. In order to slide fast, it was recommended to lean back on the sled as we held onto the strap. To keep our balance, it was best not to rest our feet on the board, but to keep them out. If we needed to break or steer we needed to drop our feet in the sand ever so slightly with our knees bent. If we started to go to the left, we were to use our right foot to redirect and vice versa.

Alex was the first to go in our group. I was second. I was expecting to speed down the hill, but I kept getting turned sideways, so I had to redirect by putting my right foot down which kicked the volcanic rock into my face. Somehow I still ended up on one track over! The jumpsuit I rented had a broken zipper and a tear in the leg, so I looked like a coal miner when I finished with black dust all over my face, neck, chest, down my bra, between my toes and more. While we all wished to have gone faster, and probably would have with a little practice, it was a fun, first-time adventure for us! How many people can say they’ve sand-boarded down a 2,300 foot cinder cone.

From Cerro Negro, we drove an hour to visit Los Hervideros de San Jacinto. These boiling mud pools are considered to be part of the same geothermal activity that fuels Telica, the volcano that stands to the northeast. The hot springs are a relatively new attraction marked with an arch and local women and children selling trinkets and bags of mud that are supposed to be curative. The brown, bubbly pools are located probably on an acre of land and roped off with a few yellow flags, slightly different from the colorful, sulfuric pools of Yellowstone. We had to be careful to follow the trodden dirt path as stepping too close to the thermal pools covered our shoes in mud as we sunk. It was an interesting place, though I’m not sure the ten minute stop was worth the hour drive as we still had another hour back to Leon.

We arrived at the hotel in the late afternoon and inhaled an American lunch (grilled cheese and fries). I continued relaxing in the common area while others took another short walk around the city. I expected to have a quiet dinner alone at the hotel as well, but Linda and Janet found me so we went out for a final dinner in Leon. ETB

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Hiking in an Extinct Volcano to Apoyo Lagoon

After a thirty minute drive, we arrived Catarina, a small town of 8,300 people located near the Apoyo Lagoon Natural Reserve.  Catarina is known for its countless nurseries and art workshops.  We arrived to the city quite early as we planned to hike down an extinct volcano for a swim in the Apoyo Lagoon, so we didn’t see many open businesses.  But we did walk along one of its quaint streets to reach the trailhead at the top of the crater.

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According to the sign, the Bajadero El Caballito is considered hard.  Maybe if we were going uphill, it would have been difficult, but it was a nice stroll downhill.  We followed a dusty path beneath a canopy of trees with a few open views toward the lagoon.  Butterflies flitted from flower to flower while birds chirped and cawed overhead.

Along the way, we stopped at pool fed by a natural spring. Before potable water service came to the town, this natural spring supplied water to the locals. Now it is used for recreation purposes only.

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The highlight of the hike, however, was the Howler monkeys.  The trailing part of the group got to see two different monkeys.  The first monkey we spotted was very well endowed with large white testicles.  He sat on the branch staring at us while dropping some vegetation our way.  The second monkey was more entertaining as he leaped from one tree to another.

After our short hike, our driver picked us up at the bottom and took us to The Monkey Hut Resort where we enjoyed lunch and a relaxing afternoon.  Some of our group took a nice swim in the choppy waters of the mineral laden lagoon.  I just took a short dip before stretched out on a colorful hammock beneath the warm sun.

Much to my dismay, a cat came over to visit and periodically meowed.  I wondered if I pet it for a minute if it would stop or if it would keep meowing for more attention when I stopped.  Not being a cat lover, I have to say this cat was awesome.  I pet it once which was satisfying enough to the green-eyed feline that just curled up next to my stuff like a dog!

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Around 2pm, we finally set out for Leon, one of the oldest colonial cities in Central America.  We arrived in Leon around 4:30 just in time to walk to a small market, the plaza and old cathedral before night set.  The Cathedral of Leon was built over two centuries ago with money from the wealthy who purchased tombs below the floor.  The most famous tomb is that of Ruben Dario, a Nicaraguan poet.

We entered the cathedral just as mass was ending and the doors were closing.  We learned we could climb the tower for a small fee or see some of the underground chambers that were once used to hide treasures from pirates.  The chambers also lead to underground tunnels that provide access to other churches!

The plaza, active with vendors and locals, also displayed La Gigantona and El Enano Cabezon.  La Gigantona is a giant doll constructed of light wood adorned in a colorful dress which represents a big, white Spanish woman with elegance and power.  El Enano Cabezon is a small figure that represents the underestimated mestizo by the Spanish domination.  These costumes are used in a traditional dance to drums while a narrator tells a story.

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After strolling around the plaza for a bit, we opted for an early dinner at a recommended restaurant, El Taquezal.  I can’t say it was amazing or anything, but it was food!  Maybe we should have tried the Longhorn Sports Bar.

We retired to our hotel, El Convento, which was an old convent.  I have to say, this hotel, despite a few things that didn’t work, was lovely.  Our rooms opened onto open-air, tile hallways that wrapped around a square courtyard.  The hallways were adorned with magnificent art and antique furniture.  The courtyard featured a fountain that doves frequently visited for water.  A manicured lawn with koi ponds tucked in the corners surrounded the fountain as Bougainvillea draped the railing.   Another lobby area as well as the pool area included religious features that provided a reminder of the convent.  It was a neat spot despite pesky ants, a broken safe, and low water pressure for toilet flushing in the mornings!

I’m looking forward to tomorrow..a 600 meter hike up a volcanic cinder cone 600 meters on volcanic rock to sand board down its slope.  ETB

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The Markets and Cathedrals of Granada, Nicaragua

Today was one of leisure. After our breakfast of eggs, fruit, and gallo pinto, we headed out to the local market, just a few blocks off the plaza. At first glance it didn’t look that big, but soon we found ourselves following the locals through a maze. Booths lined the streets and indoor buildings and included a variety of products…Colgate, Speed Stick, dresses, backpacks, buckets of rice, vegetables, crabs on a string, and piles of raw chicken. All I could think of were people in the Amazing Race having to locate a particular booth. It was fun to see the life of the locals.

From the market we strolled along the streets checking out old buildings, cathedrals, and street painting. We briefly stopped at the Museo de Convento de San Francisco that didn’t seem that exciting from the facade. There was a cool mural on an inside wall as well as a rose garden in the court yard, but it didn’t entice of enough to pay only $1 to continue inside. Perhaps I should have completed some research about Granada before I arrived. According to http://www.nicaragua.com, The Convento de San Francisco was erected in 1525 and burned by pirates in 1665 and 1685. William Walker, the American filibuster burned it yet again. Being rebuilt multiple times, the only part of the building that remained original were the outer walls, the vestibule and part of the tower. I suppose we shouldn’t have judged a book by its cover as it is famous for it catacombs that house remains of 75,000 people and it’s library is full of books and paintings depicting Granada’s violent past. Perhaps I will have to return to Granada again one day, as it is a neat city.

We did, however, take the time to enter the gorgeous Cathedral of Granada. The bright yellow, neoclassical church stands on the eastern side of the Granada’s plaza, live with music, festivals, and merchants. It was originally built in 1583, destroyed in the 19th century, and rebuilt again in the early 20th century…a common theme with many structures in the city. The interior of the church features three naves and four chapels. One area looked as though it could fit in an amusement park as it was decorated with fake rock!

Since today was our free day, the group pursued a variety of other interests. The two New Yorkers who missed the first day due to flight delays took the hike they missed. Others kayaked and went to Catarina where we plan to visit tomorrow, while another group went to a butterfly pavilion and the chocolate museum for a chocolate facial and massage.

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I chose to spend the second half of the day lounging by the pool, strolling around and trying out Restaurante El Garaje for lunch. The restaurant, listed as #1 on Trip Advisor, is located in a Canadian couples’ home. The owners were super nice and provided excellent service. Personally, I think I ordered the wrong thing, essentially a pulled pork BBQ sandwich. I can be a little picky with BBQ sauce, and I imagined the sauce would be drizzled on top of the pork, not mixed in like a Sloppy Joe. Of course, soon after I ordered I felt like I was having buyers remorse as I watched them bring enormous salads to surrounding tables. Given they was the produce with bottled water, I think salads would be the way to go!

For my final meal in Granada, I went back to El Zaguan with my roommate, Connie. I don’t generally repeat going to the same restaurant, but I have to say their Churrasco was fantastic! ETB

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Cycling, Kayaking, Hiking and Caving around Nicaragua’s Volcanoes

Oh what a day! We started out walking through the plaza and down the “tourist street” to pick up our mountain bikes which we rode a few miles to Lake Nicaragua. Lake Nicaragua is the largest lake in Central America, is home to fresh water sharks, and contains the largest island within a lake in the world. We planned to kayak around its 365 islets.

The mountain bikes were nice…shocks and everything. They were somewhat needed for the bumpy streets too! We passed through local neighborhoods displaying the poverty of the country, by a farm near the lake where locals kept their horses, and through the park peppered with picnic tables by the shore to pick up our kayaks.

Soon we paired up and ventured out on the green lake. Neysa was my buddy, and we paddled in fairly good sync as we zigzagged between the numerous islands, some of which were inhabited. An island may be purchased for $350,000. Towering above the lake was the cloud-covered volcano, Mombacho, that we hiked the previous day.

We spotted a few birds on this warm morning and weaved through some hanging vines before drying off over a coffee at a lakeside cafe. After our short break, we hopped on our bikes and road uphill through more local neighborhoods to the cemetery, a small version of Recoleta in Buenos Aires. Marble mausoleums peppered the grounds. From the cemetery we rode to the rundown Fortress, before we returned our bikes and headed to lunch.

Service is on the slow side in Nicaragua, though I’m not surprised as that is pretty common relative to the USA. We eventually made it back to our charming hotel, Hotel Colonial, located just off the plaza for a relaxing moment by one of its small pools before we began our next adventure at 4 pm.

We took a 45 minute drive to Masaya Volcano National Park. The park is the first and largest National Park in Nicaragua and is home to two active volcanoes and five craters. We visited the Masaya Volcano. First we stopped right by its edge where we braved the sulphur gases and looked down into the crater. The crater was blanketed in smoke as the Masaya Volcano is known for its active degassing. It has erupted several times and even in recent years.

La Cruz de Bobadilla towered above the crater on the northern rim. The cross was erected by the Spanish, who along with the indigenous feared the volcano and its frequent eruptions in the 16th Century, to eradicate the Devil from the “Boca del Infierno” (the mouth of hell). We followed a path that took us by the lovely cross to another viewpoint of the crater as we enjoyed the sun set.

The short didn’t stop there. We returned along the same path and then climbed a steep path of scree to a higher peak for a panoramic view of the park and beyond. We were able to see additional calderas, the Apoyo Lagoon, as well as the twinkling of lights from scattered towns.

Our adventure continued as we were guided to a cave under the night sky. The Tzinaconostoc Cave is home hundreds of bats who leave its opening in mass exodus at night. Armed with flash lights, we aimed the light into the cave to watch the bats fly around.

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Not too far from the Tzinaconostoc Cave, is an underground tunnel created by lava streams. It was enormous and while donning our hardhats, it was so cool to walk from cavern to cavern which changed sizes due to lava bubbles. Stalactites were just starting to form, thus the lava tube was very young.

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After we explored the lava tube, we were supposed to drive to another area where we could see the red lava in the active volcano. Unfortunately, the gas and wind combined to be too overwhelming for us to enter that location, so we returned to the start, but couldn’t spot the lava.

We arrived back to the hotel around 7 and ventured out to dinner. Sheri, Neysa, Alex and I chose Bistro Estrada based on reviews I read on Trip Advisor. I have to say the fried cheese and tuna ceviche as recommended on the Internet were not the way to go. The chicken satay may have been the best choice. Regardless, the setting with a courtyard was lovely and our day was amazing! ETB

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Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve Near Granada, Nicaragua

After breakfast, we packed up our bags, loaded in the van, and got to know our tour mates as we set out toward Mombacho Volcano Nature Reserve. From Managua, located on the western side of Nicaragua and about 36 miles or so inland from the coast, the Reserve was located about 35 miles to the southeast and just south of Granada.

Despite being on the highway, it took at least an hour to get to the protected area due to sharing the road with horse drawn carts and industrial trucks. On our drive, we passed shanties, farms, markets and more. In order to reach the top of Mombacho, an extinct stratovolcano, we piled into a large, open air army truck that carried us up a road made of pavers.

The summit that stands at 1,344 meters, offers two hiking trails. One hiking trail is considered difficult with 45 degree inclines and declines over the two mile trek that wends through a dwarf forest. The other trail, which is the one we followed, circled around the main crater through a cloud forest. We descended a wet, tree trunk path beneath a canopy of trees to an open area which offered a lovely view of Granada and the Isletas of Lake Nicaragua. Near the windy overlooks, water vapor rises from round holes.

Red lava rock crunched beneath our feet as we continued along the rim and between two walls, stopping to admire the lush vegetation blanketing the crater. The moist, mossy forest is home to jaguars, howler monkeys, and sloths just to name a few interesting animals as well as all sorts of flowers, in particular vermillion and orchids. The vermillion flowers are important to the forest as they can hold up to a liter of water, and its leaves provide food to the monkeys. In addition, the red eyed frogs use it for their home.

After about a 1.5 hour stroll through the forest, we reached our idling vehicle at the summit which we took half way down the hill to a zipline canopy tour which took place in a coffee plantation. We zoomed from platform to platform above coffee plants while we braked with our glove covered hands. After five or so ziplines, we “tightrope walked” while clipped in to a wire above us that we also clinged to with our hands.

After the tight rope, we swung on a Tarzan rope and continued the normal zipline until our final 45 foot free fall. It was an enjoyable time, despite earning a rope burn upon my final descent. After waiting for cars to share the single lane road, we finally ventured down to the parking area where our driver took us in the van to Granada.

We drove past a horse wandering through the road, a few pigs who also felt the road might be better than a pen, and even a funeral procession that was quite fascinating with a see-through hearse followed by friends and family walking on foot to the cemetery.

Granada, with a population of 125,000 has a storied past. It was founded in 1524 by Cordoba, a Spanish conquistador and was the first European city on the American mainland. It was subject to many invasions from English, French and Dutch pirates who were trying to take control of Nicaragua, and was once set ablaze by the American filibuster William Walker’s general which destroyed much of the ancient city. Granada and Leon argued over which was the capital city until Managua was created between them.

The colonial city is a colorful place, home to refurbished buildings as well as dilapidated ones. We wandered through the busy square and along a few side streets until we fell upon a mostly pedestrian street lined with restaurants. This was definitely the tourist area. As we strolled, we watched kids in costumes dance for tips, we scoped out the Paroquia de Guadalupe toward the end of the populated area, and eventually circled back toward the square to settle on a restaurant for happy hour, El Tercer Ojo. The zen-like restaurant projected an old movie on a neighboring wall, offered cheap drinks, and tasty food. Later, we enjoyed dinner at Restaurant El Zaguan which was located on a quiet street behind the square’s cathedral. It offered fantastic traditional fare, including the Churrasco and was completely full on Sunday night. I loved it.

I’m not sure where the day went as it seemed rather leisurely, but I found myself turning in at 11pm. Stay tuned for bike riding and kayaking tomorrow!! ETB

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My First Two Days in Nicaragua!

Today is my first day to ever set foot in Nicaragua. I’m excited to be here, though I don’t have too much to report yet, as most of the day consisted of twelve hours of travel.

My first flight out of Denver to Miami which appeared to be a new plane for American, an Airbus with TV monitors in the back of each seat, was delayed an hour due to a broken A/C. Funny, the plane was plenty cool!

The TV’s in the backs of the seats were nice to have especially given current Academy Award nominated movies were available for purchase. I was able to knock Whiplash off the list. Originally, I had just planned to read my book, but the woman behind me was such a loud complainer both me and my seatmate had to resort to headphones. She is worth mentioning because it was so humorous!

Her “TV didn’t work” because “she forgot her headphones”. But that didn’t keep her from continuously tapping the screen harder and harder so it felt like someone was kicking my chair. She didn’t want to pay $5 for headphones and wanted “complimentary ones since we were delayed.” And oh, she was “going to miss her connection” and have to “walk so far between gates.” We were all at risk of missing our connections! The lady next to me just started laughing as we both drowned out the noise with our headphones.

After I ran to my gate, I found out my next flight was late too. Way to go American!! It was a pleasant surprise, however, when a text came in from American notifying me of my upgrade which provided a lovely three hours of peace to Managua.

So I’m not sure I have ever been the first one off the plane by myself in a foreign country. I felt a little unsure as I followed the signs and reached a corner where I had to pose a few seconds for the camera before I continued on to customs. It appeared to be an arbitrary choice as to what lane to enter, and after a few minutes of typing the agent informed me I owed $10.

I didn’t check a bag, so I proceeded out of baggage claim, ran my bags through the X-rays, and looked for the shuttle to my hotel. Fortunately, a gentleman held up a sign with my name, and we were off to the Hotel Camino Real in Managua just a few minutes away. If I hadn’t seen a few nice pictures of my home away from home, I would have gotten a little nervous driving up to a bunch of neon lights. Later I figured out these were the signs to the casino next door.

The staff couldn’t have been nicer. Check in was smooth and quick. Just a short walk through an intermittent open and closed air hallway took me to my room. It was sweltering compared to the 30 degrees at home. The A/C unit seemed broken, so I walked back to the front desk to tell them. They had someone to my room in three minutes to turn it on! I have to recommend this hotel, though it is not in the city center.

At first, I wasn’t sure if the hotel water was on a filter system, but judging from all those who had ice in their glass, I supposed the water was fine (and later found out that to be true). But in the meantime, I chose safety and ordered a bottle of water with my complimentary National beer, Toña as I spent the evening watching opening day baseball. The locals were very excited for their pastime.

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I had hoped to get a tour of Managua tomorrow, but the front desk said to just take a taxi. If I had a partner in crime, I would have considered it, but the guys I met at the bar said they went to a swanky club and as soon as they left each other, one was swarmed by the other patrons. I don’t want to give Managua a bad name, as I have no experience. In the daytime, it might be a different story touring the capital city whose metro-area population exceeds 2.4 million, but I suspect I might look like a tourist, so I’ll likely spend a day by the pool and wait for my adventure tour to begin on Sunday. While an entire day at the hotel sounds a bit confining in ways, the opportunity to soak in the sun by the pool in the middle of winter will be nice luxury. ETB

January 24, 2015

Today started out with an early morning breakfast buffet which offered fantastic options. The fruit area included two fruits I’ve never seen! I opted out of the cereal bar and went for the hot food which included the traditional Nicaraguan breakfast. Eggs made to order, rice and beans, fried plantains, and fried cheese…delicious! Another area included a variety of breads…one of the servers was making homemade tortillas…that will be tomorrow’s treat!

I opted for poolside early in the day as I wasn’t quite acclimated to the warm climate. I think I only lasted 45 minutes in the sun before I retreated to the shade! I’m not sure my glowing white body was in the sun long enough for a tan mark. After hanging by the pool for the cool part of the day, I strolled around the hotel. I found a small gym, two tennis courts in rough condition with a gentleman sweeping the cement with a dried palm leaf, lovely manicured grounds and even a bird who was good at squawking “hola”. A little exercise seemed like a good idea though it didn’t appear like a good idea to anyone else as I had to turn on the A/C and the TV at the gym!

Lunchtime approached and tortilla soup and gambas al ajillo appealed to me. Both were rather tasty, though the shrimp could have been cooked a few minutes less. Later, the pool called my name again. I may actually finish my whole book on this trip…that could be a first.

It wasn’t too long before I met my roommate, Connie, who is new to Texas, so we already had a little in common. She came in with some others in the group and provided some insight to the week to come. Though a co-ed trip, an eclectic group of twelve women signed up! She mentioned a handful of the girls went into Managua. Shucks, I wish I would have run into them so I could have gone on a tour as I was getting a little stir crazy from not leaving the hotel. I got a few pictures from them though:

Regardless, Connie and I enjoyed more time at the pool when Mayra joined us. Originally from Mexico City and now living in Chicago, she is an energetic ball of fun. Soon, we went for an early dinner. Mayra’s meal looked the best…the Churrasco, a pounded filet. I think I will try it upon our return in a week. I’m looking forward to finally leaving the hotel tomorrow and starting our tour! ETB

IMG_0701 dinner

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