So I left it too long between entries...and now I can't remember where I left off....!
I think it was San Pedro de la Laguna at Lake Atilan in Guatemala- we had an awesome week there just being bums, wandering and visiting markets. When we left there we headed to Honduras, which took 2 very long days! First we caught a shuttle back to Antigua, then hopped on another bus headed for the border - which quickly ended up in a traffic jam! About 8 hours later, we eventually got to the border, got all our stamps - plus paid the usual dosgy central American entry/exit taxes, and about 9pm we arrived in copan and quickly found a hostel to pass out in. Up early the next morning, we packed up and jumped on another bus - this one to San Pedro sula, where we caught our connection to La Ceiba and somehow, magically, made it to the dock in time for the ferry out to Utila, one of the Bay Islands. We both took a fairly instant dislike to the place. It was nothing like the Caribean paradise of Caye Caulker in Belize. It's a much larger island and is filthy, and despite not being designed for cars, the footpaths were full of rusting old utes, motorbikes, scooters and golf carts. Almost got run over so many times! But it had taken us 2 days to get there, it would take 2 days to get out, and Jas wanted to dive - so we decided to stay for a few days and chill. The first dive shop we stayed at was called parrots and was soo cheap. Jas did 2 dives with them the following day and loved it, but unfortunately Parrots boat was broken, so there was no chance for him getting to dive the other side of the island, so after 2 nights with them, we switched and moved into Altons dive shop. This place was a bit too expensive for us, but it was sooo much better, so we ended up sticking there for 3 nights and jas did another 2 dives with them. The best part for me was that they had a long board walk with sunbathing and hammock platforms at the end - so I had an awesome spot to chill while Jas was diving! The best thing about Utila for me, was the beautiful sunsets. On our last night there, the hostel ran a free booze cruise out around the bay at sunset. It was a great way to end our trip there. Back on dry land, 3 trainee dive masters had just finished their courses and were subjected to their final challenge - the snorkel test. They put on a snorkel mask and their trainers poured heaps of alcohol into them, which they had to drink through the snorkle. It was hilarious, and of course, one of them spewed!
The next morning we caught the first ferry back to La Ceiba, then a bus to Tegucigalpa (the capital of Honduras, and the scariest, most horrible place we've ever been!). Tegucigalpa is an awful place, and also, it turned out the next day, a nightmare place to get out of. The bus we wanted to catch over to Nicaragua was sold out, so we ended up spending 6 hours in a bus station waiting for the next bus - which was also double the price. We didn't really care though - we just wanted to get out of there! It turned out that our bus out of Honduras was the best part of the whole country - the bus had huge comfy seats, free food and even wifi!
Honduras - we will not be back!!
Around 10 pm we finally arrived in Leon, Nicaragua and found a hostel. Unfortunately they didn't have any double rooms, but we were too wrecked to care, so after a couple of beers, we passed out in a couple of dorm bunks. The next day we scored a beautiful private room in a hostel across the road and went out for some exploring. Leon is a very pretty little town, with lots of multicoloured colonial-style buildings. The next days we signed up for a surf trip and headed out to the beach so Jas could rediscover surfing! It was a fun day, and back at the hostel an English guy, Steve, set up a little game of "human bowling" - basically 10 pins were set up and the floor in front was mopped with soapy water to make it slippy, then the contenders threw themselves down the make-shift bowling ally! It was absolutely hilarious. Especially because as the night went on, they guys playing got drunker and drunker! After all that we headed out on mass to another bar, where we watched a pretty decent band.
Our next excitement in Leon was the whole reason for going there - volcano boarding down Cerro Negro. About 20 of us headed out there on a truck and when we got to the base, we were each given a drawstring bag containing our bright orange suits (like work overalls) and a pair of goggles, and a volcano board - which is basically a bit of ply wood with grooves for your feet and ass and a bit of rope to hang on to. The climb up to the top was pretty tough - not because the climb was particularly hard or steep - but because it was mostly scrambling, which is quite difficult while carrying a bag and a volcano board! The scariest part was coming around the ridge and attempting to not get blown over the edge and into the steaming, sulphurous rocks of the crator! Eventually we got there though, and after some wandering about and taking photos, everyone climbed into their bright orange suits and assembled nervously with their volcano boards. Our guide, a Canadian called Hugh (who also ran the surf trips) announced that the girls were going first. So we headed down 2 at a time (making it into races). It was awesome! When I first climbed onto my board (you sit on it, like a toboggan), I was fairly convinced I was going to die - but I didn't! And I made it all the way down without falling at a respectable speed of 37 km/h. (the bus driver stood at the bottom of the slope and clocked everyone with a speed gun.) Jas came down a few runs after I did. He fell of a couple of times, but got up to 45 km/h. The fastest of the day was 66 km/h, by an American guy. He was also the worst injured, and shredded his left shin. So while we were back at the hostel drinking cocktails - he limped off to find a doctor to bandage him! Hugh told us a story about their fastest ever board run - an israli girl who clocked 87 km/h! She also had a spectacular fall at the bottom and cracked her head open, ouch!!
Next we headed to Granada, and we've been here a week now. It's quite similar to Leon, but bigger, and a little pricier - but still dirt cheap! We haven't done a huge amount here. Spent one day at Volcan Masaya, which is definately our favorite volcano so far! Mostly because you can climb up to the top and actually look into the crator. It was amazing! You can only hang around at the top for about 15 minutes because the sulfur fumes are so strong, but it was still cool. You can actually hear the volcano - sounds like wind blowing a gale, or maybe a bit waterfall. After that we wandered around some other dormant crators and watched the sunset. As it was getting dark we walked down and collected some hard hats and flashlights. We walked down to the entrance of a cave where we crouched down and waited for all the bats to fly out (apparently they leave the cave at the same time every night). Heaps of the creepy little things came flying out all around us while we were crouched there - we could feel them sweep past, but they never touched us, thank gawd! After that we walked through an old lava tunnel which was cool because you can't do it many place in the world - and it's ridiculously dangerous! Half way through Jas stopped and asked "isn't it dangerous to do this in active volcano? What would happen if it erupted right now?". Yes we would die! The volcano had last erupted in 2008, when the area was full of tourists. We watched some you tube clips of it that night back at the hostel. Would have been very scary/exciting!
So since that we've done lots of chilling - we found an awesome hotel around the corner from our hostel that let's you use their pool for 5 bucks a day, score! We've got another couple of days here before heading down to Isla de Ometepe. I predict lots of hammock swinging and card playing, ahh we're sooo relaxed.....!