Our first night in Nicaragua was accompanied by the loud crowing of roosters until the early morning hours, which we were well familiar with from our time in El Salvador. Shortly after breakfast, a friend of the bar owner’s where we had spent the night at came over to join us and, in the middle of our conversation, asked for a few dollars. This was a presage of the rest of our stay in Nicaragua: wherever there are tourists, there is a chance for locals to pick up some money.

We followed the advice given by our loquacious bar owner and drove directly to have a swim at Balneario Campuzano, where we were able to refresh ourselves in the gigantic swimming pool filled with clear, lukewarm thermal water. The curious looks we got from the locals let us know that there were obviously not many tourists who have found the way here. For us, it was a very worthwhile side trip, especially since another hot day had announced itself.

The street was barely recognizable due to all the potholes, and we were frequently passed by carts drawn by oxen and horses, which are also still very common in the cities here. In the touristic city of Leon, we looked for a place where we could park for a long time until we finally happened upon the parking lot for the fire department, where we were able to spend the night in a central area at a low price and were very safe. In the evening, family and friends of the firemen on duty stopped by to have supper and watch TV. There seemed to be more going on here than at the quiet main square, where, according to the travel guide, eating and dancing is supposed to take place.

Leon is a lovely colonial city, but somehow we were still saturated by the ones we had seen in Mexico, so we headed for our next goal, a natural highlight in Nicaragua. “Masaya Volcano National Park“ is  located near the capital city of Managua and offers the rare possibility of driving directly to the edge of the crater of an active volcano in your own vehicle. For safety reasons, you are only allowed to spend 15 minutes at the upper parking lot, and guides have to accompany you on any hikes in the surrounding area. The landscape was really beautiful, and the volcano Nindiri was sending up a lot of smoke and fumes, which meant that you weren’t able to see much of the crater, of course. Since there is an average of one volcano about every 15 miles (25m) in Nicaragua, we preferred to spend the night at one filled with water. Laguna de Apoyo reminded us of Crater Lake National Park in the USA, except that it is somewhat smaller and much more inhabited (and it is not easy to find a place to park for the night at a reasonable price). The panorama when you swim is terrific and adds on the extra bonus of the water being heated from beneath. The next morning, we took a worthwhile detour to the view point called Mirador de Catarina.

While we were driving on, we kept looking for a stand with fresh fruit and vegetables, as usual, but when the merchant told me that he wanted US$ 20 for a small watermelon, eight tangerines, and a few bananas, I was speechless. I had already bargained him down to half the price when Max came to my aid and bargained the price down even more by saying clearly that we were not US Americans and that we have been traveling through the neighboring countries and are familiar with the usual prices for fruit. The man finally had such a guilty conscience that he even took the pendant off the chain around his neck and gave it to us as a present, so that the holy virgin of Guadeloupe will protect us on the rest of our trip. Despite this endearing gesture, we were somewhat appalled at how tourists are only seen as money-bringers in Nicaragua, and this was our negative impression on lots of other occasions. Nevertheless, we passed by the numerous police checks without leaving any money there. On the other hand, we always missed the usual roadside food stands at lunchtime where we would have been happy to spend some money.

Since Nicaragua didn’t blow our socks off in comparison to the countries neighboring it to the north, we decided on the spot after spending three nights there to drive across the border to Costa Rica. At the border, deregistering the vehicle took an hour due to the sluggishness of the customs officials (and probably also because of our refusal to check and see if passing over a banknote would lead to speeding up things). In any case, it was not much better on the Costa-Rican side since it took us another hour there just to register the Bremach due to a defective copier. In the evening light, we were greeted by lush green Costa-Rican rainforest, a very welcome change for us from the hot days in dry Nicaragua. Again and again, it is amazing to see how much the people and politics of a country stamp their imprint on nature, so that the borderline between countries is often also recognizable by their flora.

We have decided to ship the Bremach from Panama to Columbia at the end of February, which means that we have time to tour through Costa Rica and Panama in a more relaxed and unhurried way in the next few weeks.

Here are some private pictures of our time in Nicaragua.

One Thought on “Nicaragua

  1. Hallo zusammen,

    Kompliment für eine tolle, humorvolle und informative Homepage, wir (mit unserer Reiseschildkröte Esmeralda) “verfolgen” euch mit einigen Abstand (siehe unsere Site!!) und freuen uns immer über Infos’ eure sind recht neu und “Frisch” Danke.

    macht weiter so, gute Fahrt und viel Glück bei der Passage nach Süden !!!
    Heidi & Tom

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