Archive for the ‘Nicaragua’ Category

The AmericasI have travelled the length and bredth of the Americas since I started this trip back in December, but the time has come for me to move on.

It also means that I will no longer need to keep butchering the Spanish language that I have learned to some degree as I have moved south from the USA.

There have certainly been plenty of highs as well as a few lows to keep me grounded on the road, but as ever it is time to move on because the planet has so many more waves on offer for me to enjoy along the rest of this trip.

Las OlasRather fittingly I saw this road sign next to the pizza place on my last night in Chile.

It translates to The Waves, which is an odd name for a road if you ask me, but the sign was pointing westward towards the east and that is exactly where I am going.

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Semi Final

There is the obvious language connection with Spain, but even so I have been staggered but the extent of the support for the two giants playing in La Liga.

On my way south through Central America I have seen buses, taxis, cars and even newsagents dedicated to either Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Football CrowdThe shirts of the two teams are on view throughout the continent. It is only really in Panama I have seen a significant number of other shirts (for the national side) being worn at all.

I took this picture of one of the many crowds that were forming around each television in the shopping mall during one of the recent Champions League semi fainals against the two German teams.

Messi & RonaldoWith both Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich putting four goals past their respective opposition during the recent games the collective disdain was palpable.

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Windmills 4

It is a really windy day on my way from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. This is all well and good for the wind turbines lining the shores of Lagos Nicaragua as I drive towards the border, but once past the lake it is resulting in never ending dust blasting through my open windows from the open plains.

Border Queue

At the border I drive past the usual line of trucks to the front of the queue. I’m not sure why this is acceptable but apparently it is so I go with it. As usual I am set upon by hawkers offering to exchange my cash or help me through the border process as soon as my car slows down. My polite ‘no thanks I’m good’ is rarely enough at the first time of asking, and I have to brush them off as usual, generally by breaking into a quick walk towards one of the official buildings, where sooner or later I figure it out.

It is the same painful process as usual, queues, paperwork, paying municipal tolls, thinking you have it all done only to get turned back right at the end on some grail quest for a certain stamp or piece of paper. The thermometer in the car is registering above 45C for the whole process and I am glad to be heading into Costa Rica after the two hours suffering in the heat at the border.

costa-rica-police-forceAlmost immediately there is a police checkpoint, but they are very polite and only want to ensure that everything is in order. The car gets searched, but there isn’t anything to find and I am sent on my way without issue and arrive in Tamarindo about an hour or so before it gets dark giving me plenty of time to find a place to stay.

AntI get a cabana with a kitchen 20 seconds from the beach but turn down the first one I am offered because some ants seem to be using it for a party and there was a parade going on across the pillow I was supposed to be sleeping on. The ants are each twice the size of anything I have ever seen in the UK so unsurprisingly I don’t fancy sharing my bed with them.

I go out for a few drinks and to check out the town.

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MapOn my way to Costa Rica I drive back to the main road which runs alongside Lagos Nicaragua, which is the largest lake in Central America and used to be part of the Pacific Ocean until some seismic event a long while back.

Over the last millenia or so this has resulted in evolutionary developments unique to the body of water, such as the fresh water sharks that live there.

I would love to be able to spend some time here but the road south is always calling me along  this leg of my travels.

Isla de Ometepe VocanoesI do stop for a while on the shore though to check out the Isla de Ometepe which is located in the middle of the lake. It boasts the two volcanoes, Concepcion and Madira which you see here

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Chicken Bus 1I am amazed that there are any school buses left in the USA!

All though Central America they are the standard form of transport, and are known as Chicken buses because you often will see a crate of the feathered birds strapped precariously to the roof.

I saw one such crate fall off one in Nicaragua only to be immediately blitzed by the pickup truck between me and it in an explosion of feathers.

Antigua-chicken-busThey are usually decorated in riotous colours although not so much the further south I have travelled.

This one I saw in Guatemala, where they are driven by maniacs who are only interested in doing their standard route as many times as they can during a day. I struggled to pull away from one on the Pan American highway, eventually giving up because of his driving right up the back of me doing about 85mph down a twisting mountain descent!

Batman BusFor some reason the three most common themes for decorating the buses throughout the continent are Batman, The Transformers and messages praising Jesus or God. I have no idea why that may be.

I have not used one yet, but have previously ridden something similar in China where they also cram an additional 20 people on just when you think it couldn’t possibly hold anything or anybody else.

I don’t know much about their safety record but suspect it is not that good!

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William WalkerSince being in Central America I have been reading quite a lot about William Walker who seems to have lived quite an extraordinary life. Marlon Brando portrayed him in the 1969 film ‘Burn!’ which I have not seen

The rest I have lifted from Wikipedia because I have too much writing to do, but I would recommend you take the time to read about him.

(May 8, 1824 – September 12, 1860) who was an American doctor, lawyer, journalist and adventurer, who organized several private military expeditions into Latin America, with the intention of establishing English-speaking colonies under his personal control, an enterprise then known as “filibustering.”

Walker became president of the Republic of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857, when he was defeated by a coalition of Central American armies, principally Costa Rica’s army. He was executed by the government of Honduras in 1860.

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HarbourI have based myself in San Juan del Sur for the last three nights I am staying in Nicaragua.

It is a real tourist town, which is particularly full of Americans and Canadians who have flown down here to enjoy Spring Break or the Easter week. There are loads of surfers and surf shops knocking about too.

LGSM at Coco Azul

The dollar is universally accepted here and is even offered from some of the cash points as an alternative to the local Cordobas.

The town lines a beautiful sheltered bay, and is very busy during the holiday season so I was lucky to find a great room at the Hotel El Coco Azul (www.elcocazul.com) where I can keep a watchful eye on the bug because my very comfortable room overlooks the street. However it is not necessary because the security guard here practically sits next to it all night for me to make sure nobody is misbehaving.

It is steaming hot on most days that I am here because there is no wind at all. That is great when you are surfing but in town it means that I am sweating lying still under the fans inside my room.

Henry's IguanaI am away from town at the beach during the day but have made Henry’s Iguana Beach Bar my evening hangout (www.iguanabeachbar.com )once I have freshened up each day. I like the food here and there is live sport to keep me amused. Drinking at the bar I met a few people here, but nobody more lovely than an Australian called Gemma who I met on my first night in town. We get on famously but rather typically of my luck with such things, Cinderella has to get back to the Corn Islands where she is currently based and has to leave before things can get interesting.

Sunset 11The town has been a fantastic place to stop, and has allowed me to bag some classic Nicaraguan waves, but it will soon be time to move on again.

I have just enough time for one more of the amazing sunsets here.

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DCIM101GOPRO

I take another shuttle bus from San Juan del Sur out to a staggering bad road down to Playa Medera, which is supposed to be the best break around the town. this time I was travelling with Mario from Surf Nica Waves (www.surfnicawaves.com )

First impressions were that it was mobbed and even if there was plenty of eye candy knocking about looking fantastic in their swimwear there were certainly too many people in the water for the waves which are not as good as the ones I scored the day before at Hermosa. 

DCIM100GOPRO

I travelled to the beach with a fun couple from Calgary in Canada called Gerald and Jenny and they are kind enough to keep a watchful eye on my stuff when I paddle out into the line up.

This picture is a great shot of me bursting through one of the waves and you can see the beach behind me which is lined with golden sand. 

DCIM100GOPROMy tan is sufficiently good now that I do not need to wear a rash vest to protect me from the sun so I am just in shorts for this session.

I dont know if it is for that reason but I am on fire today bagging the best rides that I saw caught by anybody in the water. I am getting whooped and hollered as I charge down the line of one. You can see me and my belly having fun in this shot, which was taken just before I nearly landed a floater of top of somebody. His duck dive was as good as it needed to be so no harm was done.

DCIM101GOPROA great day and a fantastic surf for my last session in Nicaragua.

I even saw another suspiciously big fish in the water and you can see me trying to explain that I had seeen a Tiburon (Spanish for Shark) between us and the beach to one of the locals

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DCIM100GOPROFrom San Juan del Sur which is well appointed with surf shops and shuttle buses to nearby beaches I sign up with the Good Times Surf Shop to get a lift to Playa Hermosa.

Having seen the state of some of the coast roads the day before I didn’t want to risk the bug and the shuttle was only $10 for the return trip. A bouncy 15 minute ride there later I know it was the right move.

DCIM100GOPROThere is a small group of cabanas on the huge beach set up to provide drinks for the thirsty surfers, sun bathers and swimmers. We are dropped off and told to be ready for the return journey a few hours later.

I leave my stuff on the beach under the watchful eye of the American and Canadian girls who took the shuttle with me, whilst Guillem who is also from Canada paddles out into the sand bottomed beach break with me.

DCIM100GOPROGuillem only has  a few days of surfing under his belt so finds the paddle out a bit challenging, but I am quickly into my game scoring two fantasticly long lefts as soon as I paddle out. This was the picture of the session

On the second of the waves I nearly fell off after being distracted by the fact that I surfed directly over the top of two rays heading the other way. The water is so clear I could easily make them out as I leant on my heels to make the bottom turn going left.

wpid-IMAG1408.jpgI caught a few more waves but the other big news for today was that I saw my first shark in the water. It was about twenty metres from me and wasn’t moving much so I didn’t feel too concerned by its presence, which surprised me as much as anybody.

It was curled up as though it might be eating something and I only got a good look at its tail which was swishing about above the water. (Later scrutiny of my shark playing cards would suggest that it was the King of Diamonds, a blue shark.)

It didn’t move towards me, and I alerted Guillem to its presence so the two of us stayed a wee bit closer to one and other for a while but it soon disappeared from sight, which is more unnerving that actual knowing where it is. However after a minute or two of scanning the area around us we just got on with surfing again.

Final note: 40 waves baby!!! Half way to my target. Woooooo-Hoooooo!

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Palm SundayIt is the start of Easter week and being a Catholic country everyone is suitably in the mood.

There was a procession through the centre of town with everyone carrying palms as a nod to Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem a few years back.

As an aside it is also worth saying that everyone is rather pleased here that the latest Pope comes from Latin America.

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