Last up on my Central American jaunt was the oh so lovely Nicaragua. Crossed over the border to Esteli a rather down-trodden, sleepy little place although it had supposedly once been a hot bed of political activity. Headed north to Matagalpa on a local bus. One thing that immediately struck me was how friendly the locals were. Mind you they weren't half curious as to what I was doing there and half of them thought I was crazy which is probably not too far from the truth. Met a great guy called Henry who was very excited to be able to practice his English with what he thought of as the real thing!
Stayed in a very wierd place in the Selva Negra modeled on a German chalet come hunting lodge complete with saurkraut for dinner. It was all very odd but they had some amazing trails right from the lodge where you could get up close and personal with howler monkeys and lots of amazing birds so that more than made up for the wierd setting.
Took a bus south via Managua to Leon the ´primera capital de la revolucion'. It was a fab place with beautiful churches, an amazing volcanic backdrop, some very cool grafiti and murals and of course Lazy Bones. You had to see this hostal to believe it. 3 nights, including free internet and coffee, a pool, loads of hammocks and sofas to chill in, a free 10 minute international phone call every night, dorm room all to myself and it only came to just over 20 quid. Wot a bargain! Bloody marvelous! Met some great travelers so it was a lot of fun. Went to the beach at Panelaya but trying to get in and out of the water was easier said than done. In fact it was pretty much impossible as you ended up having to swallow half the ocean as you got sucked in and then just as quickly you got dumped unceremoniously back onto the beach. Just as much as a challenge was hiking up Volcan Negro but the descent was much easier as you literally ran down it. The theory being that the ash would hold you up. Liked the theory but you ended up covered in ash which stuck to every part of your body, and I mean every part so all in all it was pretty messy.
Next up was the colonial city of Granada. It was nice enough with some pretty buildings and the most amazing chocolate cake but the best bit was heading out of town to Laguana Apoyo and the Craters Edge hostal. Incredible, incredible place. Loved it! I was very tempted to just plonk my backpack down and stay there for the next couple of weeks but I felt I hadn't explored enough. Mind you felt decidedly let down after we left to see the so-called Pueblos Blancos. Not a white-washed cottage in sight but we had a good laugh about it nevertheless.
Headed en-masse to Isla de Ometepe. It was spectacular in terms of scenery but the lake wasn't quite what we thought it was going to be and I kept wondering when the next attack of parasites would happen. It was decidedly dodgy as was our hostal given we had to clean out the dorm room before we could even sleep in it.
After only one night we gave it up as a bad job and headed to San Juan del Sur. Despite it pouring it down when we got there the next day was great - sun glorious sun. That night we met up with loads of people and a good time was had by all. A bit too much of a good time in reality but the least said about that the better. I blame it on the excessive amount of rum we managed to consume which certainly made it interesting the next morning in the clinic with Freddy trying to translate for her.
Took the bus up to Managua for the night which was a strange old place. Huge malls but lots of shanty towns with people living in makeshift tents. It also seemed to be deserted so all in all it was pretty strange. Next morning took a flight out to the Corn Islands. The weather was rubbish but it cleared just enough to get the boat across to Little Corn without ending up like a drowned rat. Found a great place to stay right on the beach so it was perfect - just 10 steps from my bed to the sea although you had to negotiate your way around the crabs and iguanas. Although the weather didn't really improve it was a perfect end to the trip. Little Corn had some great people, great tramps, great diving and great food which ranged from lobster to ice cream served up in a plastic bag! Fab time!