Granada, Nicaragua, December 26,
No snow but it did rain once just before Christmas,
a rarity at this time of year I am told. I may not be
near Canada but Canada is certainly near to me. I have
met more people from Canada, especially from Saskatoon,
here in Nicaragua than anywhere else on my journey.
Except I did meet a woman from Moose Jaw in Honduras
who knows a mutual friend in Regina, Ken Dormer. Hello
Ken from Sharon, she is riding her motorcycle to Panama
from Vancouver. Also hello from Dustin Wolfe to Mark
Von Esschen and the crew at the U. of S. Drama Department.
So it is a small world after all.
Have you ever been on a really tiny island with two
volcanoes? Never thought I would be but yes I was.
Ometepe situated in Lake
Nicaragua was formed about 100,000 years ago when
Conception and Maderas erupted. The inhabitants also
have an indigenous explanation for the islands formation.
Once there were two tribes living on either end of the
island. The northern tribe had a beautiful princess
who was in love with the handsome prince from the south.
The parents would not permit them to marry and they
killed themselves. When the woman died, her breasts
formed the twin volcanoes. The Prince's death caused
great weeping and this formed the crater lake in the
Ometepe is a great place to relax and get back to
nature. I stayed at a former coffee plantation on the
south part of the island that is now a very cozy Backpacker's
hotel. They have mountain bikes, kayaks and great
all-you-can-eat buffets. Very friendly and helpful people.
The island can easily be circled in a day on a bike
and that is what I did. The roads are very rocky with
lots of hills so it helps if you have a mountain bike.
It felt great to be under my own power just cruising
through the countryside. I met some children
and asked one of them to take a picture of me. With
wide eyes he said no, he did not know how. I showed
him the camera and got him to practice for awhile then
- voila that
is me on my bike. He was so proud of his accomplishment.
I hope I have inspired a future photographer to pursue
By mid-morning I reached the Finca
Magdalena, another coffee plantation but this one
continues to operate and receive guests as well. It
is situated higher up the base of Volcano Madera. The
view spans the entire eastern part of the lake with
Volcano Conception to the north.
There are also petroglyphs here dating back to 800
b.c. So off I go to the petroglyphs with my bike. The
young man says it is impossible to take the bike because
there are too many rocks. Hah. I have come from Merida
and this is a fine bike with serious double suspension.
I will conquer this mere 20 minute walk on bike. 30
minutes later I am still walking with the bike. O.K.
he was right, I was wrong and I still have not found
He said there was only one path through the jungle
and I have found 5 or 6. What to do? Ah synchronicity
is a wonderful thing. When you do not know what to do,
do nothing, something will happen. So I sit down at
a sort of crossroads and relax, enjoying the cool breeze
in the shade. I begin to take notice of my surroundings,
the trees, the birds and looking for snakes, spiders,
etc. when I realize I am in the jungle - by myself.
What a great feeling. No worries just me and the jungle.
Still have not seen any exotic jungle animals though.
That is when the monkeys
started to arrive, high above, crossing from one tree
to the next. The troupe had about 15 monkeys in all.
I tried to get a photo of them all but they were too
high up and too spread out.
I was so occupied with the monkeys that I did not
hear the man come up behind me. He was carrying a big
log and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was
looking for the petroglyphs and he said they were back
the way I came. So off we go and sure enough there is
right by the trail. How many more things have I
missed in the jungle? Later I went searching for the
others but never found them. Oh well maybe another time
and another place.
Now I am off to Playa Santo Domingo, a beach a little further down the road. The ride is great, fast and downhill, swerving around rocks and ruts and enjoying the wind in my hair. The water is very warm and it is hard to cool off by wading in only to your knees. Oh did I mention there are sharks in the lake? Yes, fresh water bull sharks, about 2 metres or more in length. They are dangerous and have attacked locals in the past but nobody has seen any for awhile. Apparently they migrated upstream from the Pacific about 20,000 years ago and evolved into this fresh water species.
Someone told me there was a small, spring-fed
river near here that runs across the road, so off
I go. Sure enough ten minutes later there is a small
stream in front of me and the water is cold. I mean
ice cube cold and it feels great. The stream runs through
someone's property. I see a woman, a beautiful woman
washing clothes upstream on the property. I ask her
if it is alright to park my bike and walk up the stream.
She says yes and that there is a small catarak 15 minutes
upstream. Wow what a great walk in the river. The trees
shade me from the mid-day heat and the cooling waters
are invigorating. I pass two more beautiful woman washing
clothes. The woods are full of them.
The catarak is no more then two metres high as it
emerges from a group of rocks and empties into a small
pool below and it is cold. The pool is shallow but big
enough to stretch out in. Yah! Jungle
pool skinny dipping. I am ready for the ride back
and do so in half the time it took getting there.
Another option I had was to climb Volcano Maderas
but I opted out after seeing Alex
and hearing his account of it. As hard as he tried to
make it sound fun I knew it was more of a grueling challenge.
The condition of the rest of the crew as they hobbled
and staggered back covered in mud, cuts and bruises
also attested to this fact. All one girl could say was
"I want bubbles, lots of bubbles in a hot bath." Give
me a mountain bike and a rocky road and I am happy.
I left Ometepe and returned to Granada after a few
days. I had been in Granada a few days earlier but really
did not see much of the city. There are some really
nice places to stay and the Bearded
Monkey is one of them. Strangely enough I came back
and still have not seen much of the city. The Hospideja
Central is another great place with lots of incredible
art on the walls and tables and everywhere. These were
all done by guests over the years. I spent Christmas
Cocibolca. Senor Gomez has a very homey place and
puts on a fine, free supper every year for his guests
as do the other places also.
So then I meet Norbert from Austria and we jam out
a kind of flamenco/jazz/celtic/reggae. A great time.
Then I meet Andrew from the states who plays classical
violin as well as great classic jazz on the guitar and
we jam. Then he says the guy across the street wants
him to play tonite and would I like to join him. Sure
why not and maybe Norbert can join in too. Well the
night was magical and the place was rocking. We played
everything in a jam without playing anything in a formal
structure. Wow never done that before. So here I am
in Sharky's, Christmas eve playing great music with
great new friends and watching the fireworks. Heck,
I even bought a few and joined in. I might stay for
New Year's here in Granada. Oh and I also ran into Sylvia
and Lea again. I met them in Isla
Mujeres and keep bumping into them here and there.
Merry Christmas girls, where will we meet again? It
is a small world after all.
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and the Road to León