Tag Archives: Chocolate

North…to Nicaragua…

Though we have been in Panama for a while, we are still catching up on our blog. After our wonderful tour in Costa Rica, we found the Nicabus terminal in San Jose and headed to new adventures in Nicaragua. The bus ride was pleasant with the windows opened there was a pleasant breeze and, even though there was no a/c, the bus was equipped with wifi. Go figure! We were headed to San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua and were dropped off in some small town somewhere and told we could get a bus there. We had, fortunately for us, made friends with a young couple from England on the bus who were also headed to San Juan Del Sur and who spoke Spanish!! A taxi driver immediately approached us and said he would take us to our destination for $25/person. Our Spanish speaking friend looked into finding a bus but ended up negotiating with the taxi driver to take us to San Juan Del Sur for $25 for all four of us. It was a small taxi, but somehow we all got in with our luggage for the 30 minute ride ahead.

We arrived at our home for the next week and immediately fell in love with the view.

The bay and surrounding area...
The bay and surrounding area…

San Juan Del Sur is a quiet little town on a bay with a statue of Christ overlooking the area

Jesus watching over San Juan del Sur...
Jesus watching over San Juan del Sur…

and sunsets that everyone in town stops whatever they are doing to watch.

Amazing sunsets...
Amazing sunsets…

The beach is lined with restaurants

Restaurants along the beach...
Restaurants along the beach…

and with the spectacular sunsets as wallpaper, we enjoyed some wonderful seafood meals along the beach.

Another beautiful sunset...
Another beautiful sunset…

Nicaragua is a poor country and children follow tourists begging and selling little trinkets, chicklet gum, or things they have made from palm leaves. They assemble these so quickly and perfectly and will make whatever you want if they don’t have it made. Flowers, bugs, hearts, you name it.

Street boy weaving palm leaves...
Street boy weaving palm leaves…

And, of course, new country, new money. We were busy learning how many Córdoba Oros make $1. It’s somewhere over 25 Cordobas to the dollar, so confusing. So much money for $1.

We rented a car for a couple of days so we could look around and drove to the base of the Christ statue. We still had a hike up to the statue but it was worth the effort as the view was amazing.

Stairway to Jesus...
Stairway to Jesus…
From the feet of Jesus...
From the feet of Jesus…
Tiny chapel under Jesus...
Tiny chapel under Jesus…
San Juan del Sur as Jesus see's it...
San Juan del Sur as Jesus sees it…

Our time in SJDS came to an end and we found a shuttle service to take us to our next adventure, Granada.

Volcanos on the island of Ometepe...
Volcanos on the island of Ometepe…

Granada was a very welcoming city and we immediately felt a good vibe there.

Overlooking part of Granada...
Overlooking our hotel and part of Granada…

Our hotel, home for the next several days, was in a great location far enough away from the center of town to escape the noise yet close enough to walk or take a horse and buggy

Carriages in waiting...
Carriages in waiting…

or taxi to the many wonderful restaurants in the tourist area. We took advantage of all of these.

La Merced Church...
La Merced Church…
One of the sanctuaries...
One of the sanctuaries…

We climbed the stairs, including the narrow spiral staircase near the top

Suzi heading up into the steeple...
Suzi heading up into the steeple…

of the La Merced Church across from our hotel for a wonderful view of the entire city.

Inside the steeple...
Inside the steeple…

Taking a break at the top for Suzi to recover the climb, we welcomed people from Texas, France, Germany, California and other places we don’t recall.
We walked to Lake Nicaragua

Walking to Lake Nicaragua...
Walking to Lake Nicaragua…

and even took a boat ride for a wonderful view of many beautiful homes on the numerous islands in the lake. Most of them are seldom occupied and are vacation getaways.

Vacation home on Lake Nicaragua...
Vacation home on Lake Nicaragua…
Another lake vacation home...
Another lake vacation home…

After the tour,

Our bi-linguil tour guide...
Our bi-linguil tour guide…

our guide accompanied us to a local restaurant in the city park

Lunch in the park...
Lunch in the park…

and we enjoyed a typical Nicaraguan lunch.

Our lunch...
Our lunch…

We heard there was a Chocolate Museum in Granada so we set out to discover the nuances of making chocolate.

Making chocolate by hand...
Making chocolate by hand…

We skipped the chocolate massage but did splurge on a treat at the restaurant in the museum.

Our chocolate "lunch"...
Our chocolate “lunch”…
Inside the chocolate store...
Inside the chocolate store…
Painting on the wall of the museum...
Mural on the wall of the museum…

Many of the restaurants and hotels are built around a center courtyard

Inside courtyards...
Inside courtyards…
Our hotel pool...
Our hotel pool…

as was our hotel with the swimming pool in the courtyard. There was a beautiful marble staircase up to the second floor and our room.

Through the lobby to the stairs to the rooms...
Through the lobby to the stairs to the rooms…

When our time in Nicaragua came to a close, we found the Tica bus depot and bought our ticket to take the bus to Jaco, Costa Rica.

The Tour Continues…

Monteverde is a beautiful small town with old world charm

1 horse power or 100 horse power...
1 horse power or 100 horse power…

and a modern life style with lots of shops and tourist adventures like zip lining, rock climbing, and hiking the nine hanging bridges. We opted to take the morning off and just walk around town.

Remember these Kodak signs...
Remember these Kodak signs…

We went in and out of the many souvenir shops and looked at the unique items.

Souvenirs abound...
Souvenirs abound…
Butterflies of Costa Rica...
Butterflies of Costa Rica…

There is a lot of beautiful hand crafted wood furniture available in this area and they will make to order if you know what you want.

Wood table tops...
Wood table tops…
Mango wood vases...
Mango wood vases…

Suzi loved these hand carved mango wood vases.

In the afternoon we joined our other tour mates for a tour of the Don Juan Coffee plantation.

Don Juan Coffee, Monteverde, Costa Rica...
Don Juan Coffee, Monteverde, Costa Rica…

We saw the coffee plants

In the coffee fields...
In the coffee fields…

and Cacao trees growing and learned about harvest techniques,

Coffee & chocolate drying...
Coffee & chocolate drying…

drying, grading,

The coffee roaster...
The coffee roaster…

roasting and finally

Which roast do you like...
Which roast do you like…

drinking and eating.

Fresh ground chocolate...
Fresh ground chocolate…
Suzi meets Don Juan...
Suzi meets Don Juan…

We also got to see the process used to turn sugar cane

Hand grinding sugar cane...
Hand grinding sugar cane…
More grinding...
More grinding…

into brown and white sugar,

The syrup of their labor...
The syrup of their labor…

molasses and Costa Rican moonshine known as “Guaro”.

Our "chariot' arrives...
Our “chariot’ arrives…

One final treat was a ride in a true Ox cart.

Twin ox boost...
Twin ox boost…
The view from behind the tails...
The view from behind the tails…
Seating for as many as you can pack in...
Seating for as many as you can pack in…

Who knew ox carts have no suspension?

Our hotel in Monteverde...
Our hotel in Monteverde…

Our last day on the tour was a travel day back to San Jose, Costa Rica. We checked out of our hotel in Monteverde and boarded our bus back to the big city.

On the bus again...
On the bus again…

Along the way, we saw beautiful vistas,

Costa Rica countryside...
Costa Rica countryside…

and even some wild life just hanging out in the trees.

Howler Monkey...
Howler Monkey…
Just hangin around...
Just hangin around…

Up next, we head north again to Nicaragua…