Tag Archives: Nicaragua

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.

Advertisements

A Glimpse of Costa Rica…

We met up with our tour and got on our bus

Our trusty bus...
Our trusty bus…

which first headed to Arenal, the home of Arenal Volcano. As we traveled through the countryside, one stop we made was in Sarchi, home to the Guinness Book of Records’ world’s largest ox cart

The World's Largest Ox Cart...
The World’s Largest Ox Cart…

and also an ox cart factory where ox carts are built and meticulously hand painted.

Painter hard at work...
Artist hard at work…

Ox carts started out as a way to transport goods and people from town to town and from inland towns to the sea ports.

History, by the wheels...
History, by the wheels…

In the early 20th century, families began painting the carts and the style of painting could be used to tell what area and what family the ox cart came from.

History on wheels...
History on wheels…

As more modern ways of transporting goods and people came about, ox carts were used less and less but the painting got more elaborate.

A wheel...
A wheel being renovated…
Work in progress...
Work in progress. All done by hand….

Currently, ox carts are used mostly in parades and celebrations but are even still used for transportation for some local farmers.

Another stop on the way to Arenal was at a local school that Gate1 Tours has “adopted” and provides with some support. As we drove up,

Waiting for the bus...
Anxiously waiting for the bus to arrive…

all the kids were waiting for our bus. As we got off the bus,

Being escorted to class...
Being escorted to class…

a child took each of us by the hand and escorted us into their school. We sat down and watched as the children performed local dances for us.

Tiny dancer...
Tiny dancer…
Even dated with the Gate1 folks...
Even coaxed some of the Gate1 folks to dance…

They sang the Costa Rican National Anthem and

Singing for us...
Singing for us…

God Bless America for us. Then, they showed us around the school,

The computer lab...
The computer lab…

the computer lab, lunch room, and playground. It was obvious to us that they took great pride in their school. Our visit came to an end and we loaded back up in our bus and headed to our first overnight stay at the foot of the Arenal Volcano.

Arenal Volcano...
Arenal Volcano…

It’s much cooler in Arenal than San Jose and the cool air was a welcomed pleasure. We stayed in La Fortuna at a lovely hotel

Our "Hotel"...
Our “Hotel”…

with a great view of the volcano.

The volcano from our room...
The volcano from our casita…

Our first full day by the Arenal Volcano, we hopped aboard our trusty bus and headed toward the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica to the town of Cano Negro for a boat ride down the Cano Negro river. As we headed across the green country side, our tour guide, Ricardo,  said we were going to stop and see some of his “family”. We stopped and he went to the fruit stand and bought some bananas. As he came back,

Did you say bananas???...
Did you say bananas???…

several LARGE iguanas

We LIKE bananas...
We LIKE bananas…

appeared from the bushes and began clambering for the bananas.

Bananas good...
Bananas good…

A real feeding frenzy.

Just hanging out...
Just hanging out…

Back on our bus again, we made our way to the Cano Negro river. Once there, we got on the boat, said good bye to our fans on the dock,

Our fans...
Our fans…

and headed down the river. Our guide, Ricardo, was excellent at pointing out all of the various wildlife along and in the river…including a crocodile with babies, bats on a tree, lizards, turtles, monkeys and even a water cow!

Momma and the "kids"...
Momma and the “kids”…Crocodile…
Snowy Egret...
Great American Egret…
Can you spot the bats?
Can you spot the bats?
Here they are...
Here they are…Long Nose Bats…
Im flying...NOT...
I’m flying…NOT…
High up in the trees...
High up in the trees…Montezuma Oropendola…
The border...
The border…

Time to turn around…

Sitting in the shade...
Sitting in the shade… Cormorant…
Hanging around...
Hanging around…Howler Monkey…
Watching for food...
Watching for food…Boat Billed Heron…
Laying in the sun...
Laying in the sun…River Slider Turtle…
Drying the wings...
Drying the wings…
Colorful lizard...
Colorful lizard…Basalisk Lizard
More wing drying...
More wing drying…Anhinga…

Once we arrived back at the dock, we boarded our bus and headed back to our hotel, looking forward to the next adventures on this tour. Oh, here’s the picture of the water cow…

The water cow...
The water cow…

Another wonderful day came to a close.