Monthly Archives: November 2011

Summertime

I had one night in Managua, Nicaragua’s capital. It’s a big sprawling beast of a place: Urban. Ugly. And for the most part, Unfriendly. It’s an uncomfortable intersection of poor Nicas and rich ex-pats. I’m sure if you spent enough time here you’d find some beauty, good people and a heartbeat of sorts. But Antigua, it ain’t.

I checked into a nice hotel (‘nice’ has changed SIGNIFICANTLY since I stayed at the Intercontinental in New Orleans). I had my first hot shower in 5 weeks. Cold showers are a way of life here: the weather is warm even during the rainy season so there’s no real need; moreover it’s just because hot water is a luxury. And it’s not really an issue. But you never really get super duper scrubby clean. You should have seen the state of my hotel-issued white towel once I was done.

I then sat down to Skype my dear friend Scott who had sweetly
agreed to visit my folks for a very special reason. As smart as they are – my parents would have to be the least tech savvy people in the world. As in, they haven’t worked out how to use the Voicemail feature on the mobile phone I gave them just last year. So, Scott & I had conspired to surprise them with a video call on his laptop for my Dad’s 65th birthday. In return, he would be rewarded with The Best Laksa In The World.

We had a great jibber. Scott delivered the coffee table book I had ordered online. So now the oldies could get a bit of a taste of where I have been. Dad seemed pleased enough. But I do know the big thing for him was being able to see my face. Mum & Dad oohed and ahhed at the wonders of technology. I had to intervene when Dad started asking Scott how the Internet worked. Maybe it’ll be enough incentive for him to go & do an Intro to Computers course at the local community college.

Now I do not want to underestimate the extent of this massive favour that Scott had afforded me. My parents live a good 45min drive away from Scott’s place in the city. And Scott’s a busy man.

But my mama’s laksa, which a lot of my good friends will testify, is more than fair reimbursement. A laksa is a Peranakan (Chinese-Malay) dish. It’s a coconut-curry soup which is traditionally made with seafood. Served right, there will be a combination of Hokkien and vermicelli noodles and it will be garnished with fresh bean shoots, a good spoonful of sambal chilli paste, and topped with Vietnamese mint.

Having one of my mother’s laksas is a bit like flying First Class once. And then flying Economy forever more. One friend described it as a “laksa which will ruin you forever”. My friend Jackie, an eminent restaurant critic gave it a thumbs up. And another mate has put it on his Bucket List.

So naturally Scott being the good Aussie mate that he is, spent the rest of the afternoon torturing me with photos of said laksa. Yep. Goodonya.

Next day I made my way to Little Corn Island. It had come so highly recommended by everyone I had met who had been there. I was looking forward to getting back to the Caribbean. Doing some more diving. Eating more lobster. Perfecting my hammock technique. That sort of stuff.

It’s an 80 min flight in a teeny plane that makes too many ‘I’m on the precipice of falling out of the sky’ noises for my liking, to Big Corn Island. Then it’s an hour by panga to Little Corn Island. This particular panga is a big ole wooden speed boat with a bunch of bench seats – maybe enough to hold 30 passengers. It’s a got a couple of really big outboard motors which power it over some seriously high swells: Smooth on the way up. Not so smooth on the way down. Bit like a rollercoaster really. You wanna hang on tight. And that goes for your possessions too. Everything could well go flying. Expect to get drenched. When it rains, they give you a big sheet of industrial plastic which everyone helps hold down over their heads. Definitely an experience in itself.

A short walk from the jetty – I walked past a bar called Tranquilo and saw Skye sitting with a young European fellow. We saw out Happy Hour (which is actually two) and caught up while the sun did its thing over the sea.

Then we went & found me a place to call home for the next week. Most visitors to Little Corn Island will divide their time between the village and the beach, which is an epic 15 minute walk around the other side of the island. On the beach, there are three places where you can drop your swag for the eve. They’re all very simple thatched roof huts with concreted bathrooms. The beds are swathed in mosquito nets. There’s not much else to them. You might get a veranda with a chair or a hammock. You might get a fan. Or a lounge. You might get a power outlet. You wouldn’t get all of the above.

I got one with an uninterrupted view at Elsa’s. Next door at Grace’s / The Cool Spot was where it was at. Most people seemed to be staying there, the restaurant was good (if not a bit exy) and the bar would get busy after Happy Hour ended at Tranquilo. We met a mixed bag of folks from all over the world. They were all divers too, so I would end up spending a bit of time with them over the next week.

The next day & I went and talked to the guys at one of the dive shops, Dolphin Dive. (The other was closed for vacation.) When I told Adam, the manager how long I was going to be on the island for – he advised me to wait it out for a couple of days as the visibility wasn’t so great at the moment. That would be a first. It’s always “25 metres vis out there! We saw hammerheads dancing with dolphins, who were riding on the backs of turtles yesterday! It’s amazing out there!” And then you get out there and it’s Shit. I was well impressed with his honesty. I silently pledged allegiance to his shop immediately.

Over the next week, I did 5 dives with them and some laughs with my good natured DM – a local bloke who told me he was related to 80% of the island. We dove some real pretty sites under nice conditions, but on the whole there was nothing extraordinary to report. Apart from my first sighting of a “Dick Fish”.

On my second last day of diving, I pointed something out to Garry and made an underwater gesture: ‘What is it?’ With both hands, he started simulating a wank of the most massive pretend penis ever. I lost it! I laughed so hard my reg popped out of my mouth, and i took in a few good mouthfuls of seawater. I just did not expect that at all from this quietly spoken man. At all. When we surfaced, I spluttered at him – “WHAT THE HELL IS A DICK FISH!”

Apparently, it was a Black Spotted Sea Cucumber. Too fucking funny.

Little Corn Island is a proper tropical island with hundreds of coconut trees and lots of lush green dense vegetation.

Population: 1200 people, a few hundred chickens, lots of well-fed & happy dogs, and at least one cow. Almost everyone speaks Caribbean English and Kriole. A lot of folk speak Spanish.
There are zero vehicles on the island. There are very few shops, and no banks.

Power only runs from 3ish (give or take a couple of hours) in the arvo through to around 5 or 6 in the morning. Rest of the time they make do without. Businesses use gennys. The island does have its own water supply though which means you can drink the water here!

Typical foods here include coconut bread, and there’s a lady who lives down past the little school, who you can go visit two times a day to get the tastiest of them all – hot out of her oven. There’s a couple of kids who sell their mama’s “patties” which are kinda like little meat pies / empanadas. There’s a lot of plaintains & bananas which get served up every which way with gallo pinto (the omnipresent rice & freakinbeans). Then there’s a dish called Rundown, (pronounced more like ‘ran-dahn’ in the Carib accent). It’s a coconut soup dish consisting of seafood, plaintains, bananas, root vegetables and herbs & spices. I was well excited about the prospect of eating this.

And so it turned out, Skye had met a guy called Dennis (seems like every tourist does) on the beach who was touting a rundown by a bonfire on the beach, the next night. Sounded great. Only sticking point was he wanted the money upfront. I suggested we give him ½ that day, and tell him we’d give him the rest on the night.

Later that day, she & I and circumnavigated the island by foot which took us no more than an hour or two. There’s bugger all to see, apart from a lighthouse, which i think we must have missed.

What we did see though was a crazy amount of rubbish strewn along the shoreline. Tiny bits of Styrofoam that we mistook for shells. Thousands of plastic bottles. Hundreds of odd shoes. We hadn’t heard a thing about this from anyone. Why was no one talking about it? I asked some locals later that day and they all said it had washed up in the last big storm a couple of weeks ago. Garry told me there had been big clean up days in the past, and maybe something like that would be organised again before the high season hit.

We had the rundown on the beach that night, but neither Skye or I were really feeling the vibe. It just felt like we’d been suckered into a bit of gringo rort. There was a bit of a sleazy undertone to the whole affair. And to be honest, the rundown wasn’t what i had been hoping for. It seemed like a dish with great potential though. I vowed to hunt down the best one on the island before I left.

Skye left a couple of days after I arrived, for her friend’s wedding in Mexico. We’d been travelling together on & off for 5 weeks. There’d had been some difficult moments. But moreover, we’d had lots of fun and funny times in two stunning countries and we’d met some amazing people with incredible stories. There was a part of me that knew there were bits of travelling with someone which I was really going to miss. Like the travelling bits, in particular. But there was also a part of me that was looking forward to flying solo again.

I fell into an easy routine for the remainder of my days on the island.

I’d get up early, check the sea conditions on the both sides of the island (the beach side is on the East and it can get ridiculously windy there… whereas you can walk around to the Village on the West side and the sea can be glassy as a lake.) I’d have a chat with the guys in the dive shop. And then do some reading or writing over brekky. My dive was at the very civilised time of 1130am. After which it was time for lunch. I’d follow that up with a snooze in the hammock. I’d then go get ready for Happy Hour at 5pm. Have some dinner and be in bed by 9 or 10. What a life.

On my 2nd last night, I tagged along with Stefano (a tall Italian man who was one of the DMs at the dive shop) to the local reggae bar, Happy Hut. All the local lads were hanging around in hammocks getting high. I shared a few spliffs and kisses with Garry. And I must say – both were rather good. I also got given a bowl of a barracuda rundown which was being made by one the young boys, which was absolutely sensational.

Two days later, I was a bit sad to be leaving the island. I think so far it’s been my favourite (and yes, I know I say that about all of them).

I caught the early morning panga with Steph from the bar and learnt she was also going to Managua. She needed to go to Costa Rica for a border run. Steph is a tall, vivacious, pretty Brit who had a smile to shame the Caribbean. She decided to come to Managua Backpackers Inn with me and we really took to each other over the next 2 days.

By the end of it, we had decided I should come back & work in the bar with her (while her workmate was back in the States for a few weeks). She’d also said I could take over her house-sitting gig for the duration as well. That just sealed the deal. I could tell the two of us would get up to quite a bit of strife together. Throw someone’s sweet kisses into the mix & I was well excited about the possibility of returning to Little Corn, as I parted ways with Steph in Rivas.

2 or so hours later I arrived back at Little Morgan’s.

15 November 2011

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(we’re never gunna survive unless we get a little) Crazy

Ometepe is a decent-sized island which was formed by two striking volcanoes: Concepción (1,610m) and Maderas (1,394m). This is the largest volcanic island inside a fresh water lake in the world. The two volcanoes are joined by a low isthmus to form one island in what some say looks like the shape of an hourglass. When you look at a map – it looks more look like 2 fried eggs to me. Or boobies.

After a 2-hour bus ride, mas o menos to Rivas from Granada, it was a bumpy old ferry ride across to the island. And then an even bumpier one hour taxi ride to Little Morgan’s.

I had read you could see the volcanoes from your bed this ‘backpacker’s resort’, which was right on the lake. We were met by the owner, Morgan – a rough & ready Dubliner with a shaved head, a gravelly voice and a devilish grin. He was decidedly unlittle.

(Turns out, the place was named after his now 3 year old son, “Morgan-cito”. A beautiful blonde bush-boy with dirty feet, a delightful sense of humour, and a talent for drawing.)

He showed us into a beautiful casita featuring beautifully polished twisted trees throughout. It had a gorgeous open-ceiling bathroom off to the side.

We dumped our bags and followed him down a rocky path. The night garden was magically lighting up with fireflies. The path opened up to the bar with a dirt floor and glimpses of the lake. There we were warmly welcomed by the rest of the staff and quickly got settled in.
We had a few drinks, a feed & a couple of games of pool & sang Scottish Steve (who we had picked up in Granada) a happy birthday.

The next morning I woke up early to the sight of Maderas and a blue bird with a pretty long tail feather, by my window. I walked down to the cocina to get a coffee and was greeted by dozens and dozens of brightly coloured butterflies, bouncing about – all excited about the day.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was lucky to score some rare photos of Concepción sans its usual cloud cover that morning. The photos were taken from the ‘Mirador’, which was a treehouse that had been purpose built to enjoy the views.

Over breakfast, we were lucky enough to catch wind of a ride with one of the other travellers to a nearby waterfall. Pierce was an unruly-looking engineer from England who was driving from Canada to Argentina in a Honda CRV which was just like mine back home but a whole lot more battered. He was an articulate string bean of a man with moppish hair, a gentle soul & a bunch of interesting travel tales. He was a very unlikely candidate for someone who had spent a night in a Mexican jail. I instantly took to him.

The walk was very do-able for me. A little harder for Skye. The waterfall was suitably impressive at 40m tall but strangely, it had an extremely shallow pool forming at the bottom. I stripped down to my togs and went for a wade anyways. It was bracing, so it was just an in-and-out job.

The next day was Halloween and the staff at Morgan’s had decided to have a dress up party.

Morgan’s gregarious sister, Kate reminded me of Cameron Diaz. With a multiple personality disorder. And I mean that in a nice way. I think she may be a compulsive liar. I mean that in a nice way, too. She is definitely one of the funniest women I have ever met in my life. We girl crushed instantaneously – as her serene mother, who I had met earlier in the day had predicted. We discussed potential costumes for the night with the fervour of a pair of teenagers. She would go as a lil sex kitten. I would be Eve. Minus an apple. But what the hey. She was a make-up artist from LA, and generously offered to do mine. I was well excited. I missed my dress-up antics with my good friend Andrea and her crew of wig-wearing friends (who had become mine) via many a crazy night back home in Sydney.

It gets dark here early, and as such – the party got started early. A good number of people – a mix of the locals and guests made a cracking effort to come up with something that resembled an outfit for the party. We had a little adventure race to kick things off. The pot of gold being a very generous bar tab for the winning team.

I think Morgan had originally the sound business idea of charging folk a couple of Cords for some of his industrial strength party juice, but that intent got lost somewhere along the line and the party became a bit of a rum free for all. 4 barrels later, the party was a bit of a shit show. There was a lot of dancing. A lot of banter. And a lot of hooking up going down.

That night, I laughed until I was doubled over, nearly peeing my pants. And I cannot for the life of me even remember what was so funny. It was definitely one of those loose nights where you had to take the attitude of, “Well, if you can’t beat ‘em, you may as well join ‘em.”

I do recall clocking more than one guest looking a bit like a deer in headlights. To be fair, one of the staff members was at one point, doing an impersonation of a drag queen gyrating on the bar. I was totally vibing off the good energy of these mad hatters. It was a big fun night.

The next morning, there were a lot of sore heads and hasty departures. It seemed we had scared off a lot of people. I, on the other hand, had fallen in love with the whole fucken lot of ‘em:
Sabine the little pocket rocket from Germany, bouncing around like a kid on a pogo stick; Richard who would have to be the tallest Asian I have ever met, who had impeccable taste in music; Shannon the Californian surfer chick who was an introvert trapped in an extrovert’s body; and ‘Queso’, the wild woman from WA, with more energy than the Energiser Bunny. And at the heart of it all was “mad-dog Morgan” who despite looking like someone you wouldn’t want to cross in prison, clearly had a Heart of Gold.

I think it was me who started the post-party craziness the next day. What can I say? I like a beer buzz early in the morning. No better way to sort out a hangover, right? And at some point that one innocent hair of the dog turned into the whole goddamn dog. The staff have rubber arms; it was decided by Morgan that it a day off for everyone in the country (or at least the part he ruled); and before you knew it – it was all well & truly sideways again.

A few hapless potential guests did walk in to the utter freakin chaos that was reigning sometime around 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon. People dancing on tables, drinking direct from wine / rum bottles, near-naked receptionists, and snooker-table gymnastics.
There was a lot of dirt, smeared make-up and left-over glitter in amongst the mess they walked into. I must admit despite my own drunken haze, I could tell it was a scene that would have deterred even the most foolhardy of partiers. Two of them decided they were up for it. One turned around & walked out. Probably for the best.

It was a long day. Most people had put in a hard day’s work of drinking & people started sneaking off to bed. Not Morgan & his intrepid team. These guys were pro-fucking-Fessionals. I did my own sneaking & slept like a log that night.

Next day Shannon (who was on her day off) & I were invited to go riding around the islands with a motley crew of backpackers. Quiet Aussie Tom told me as I was getting on the back of his bike, that he didn’t have travel insurance. So therefore he would be taking it easy. And he would get me back in one piece. I’m not convinced he had shedloads of motorbiking experience, but I believed him on both accounts.

The roads on Ometepe range from okay, to shithouse, to are-we-still-even-on-a-road?

I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post about the time I broke my foot in Greece on a moped. I felt more than a little stiff everytime we slipped in the mud / hit loose gravel / came across an unpredictable animal (eg, chickens, pigs, dogs, cows).
Turns out cows win the crown for Most Likely to Cause A Motorcycle Accident.

So naturally the whole Greece ordeal flashes back to me in the split seconds before we hit said cow. Fucker was walking one direction one second, then decided to REVERSE out of his herd, and then cross to the other side of the road right in front of our path as we tried to avoid them.

The bike and both of us on it, fell to the side of the road in slow-mo. And all I could think was, ‘thank Christ, we’re not in India’. I do recall at some point, also wondering how much a cow would cost to replace. And if my travel insurance would cover it.

We had hit the cow with considerable force, but he didn’t seem hurt. I do recall him kinda looking back at us with a bit of cow-ish disdain, and hurumphing back off in the direction the herd was going.

Why he felt the need to be a goddamn individual at that particular point in time – I will never know. We both (Tom & I, not the cow & I) had a few scrapes and bumps and things. I had a big trickle of blood streaming down my left leg but it was a surface scratch only. I was a bit shakey but think it had more to do with Greece, than anything else. The bike had lost a mirror but that seemed to be the extent of the damage, there.

We dusted ourselves off, continued on, and landed in a beau’ful place called La Presa Ojo de Agua, where natural springs were the centrepiece for a lil haven … just what the doctor ordered. The locals had built a pretty decking sympathetic to the natural environs, and had laid out a few sunchairs by a simple comedor, where we grabbed a bite to eat. We lazed around in the waters, had a couple of beers, and then moved on.

As we made our way home, Tom & I ran into another problem when the bike wouldn’t change gears. Foley the Kiwi and Shannon came back to look for us because we had been missing for quite some time. Shannon has much better Spanish than I, so she asked one of the neighbours if we could use their phone to call the rental place (I fortunately had the foresight to obtain their number in the likelihood of something like this happening.)

The owner of the bike shop came back with a piece of rope and a screwdriver. Men over here are real handymen. They have to be. They simply don’t have the money to pay plumbers, electricians and mechanics to come fix their broken shit.

Despite having a boyfriend who did nothing but smoke bongs and bang on about car engines for the entire 18 months that we dated – I know amazingly little about gearboxes. But I do know that not even MacGyver could fix a broken gearbox with just a rope and screwdriver.

It was not long off getting dark and we were on one of those are-we-still-even-on-a-road? roads. So I asked Latin MacGyver how we were going to get back to the shop. He pointed at his bike. A spanking new big red thing with a real comfortable looking seat and a massive engine. I could tell Tom was well excited to be riding a real bike. I silently had a mild panic attack. It looked expensive.

We made it back. I was I admit, surprised when the Nicas didn’t overcharge us for the cost of damages to the bike. The lot of us had some dinner & beers across the road. I thanked Tom for getting me back in one piece. And swore I’d never get on the back of a bike again. Then Shannon told me she’d organised a free ride home for us all. On the back of a bike.

I do think in all reality, that’s me & bikes done. Now let’s just hope the Love Of My Life doesn’t turn out to be the Easy Rider.

Skye left for Little Corn Island the day after the Cow Incident. I spent the next couple of days chilling out at Little Morgan’s getting to know the guys there a little bit better. One thing is for certain, none of them had lived an ordinary life. And especially not Morgan himself. Man that guy’s got some wild fucking stories. A chapter unto themselves, methinks.

And so I left them with a promise of returning to share a week of celebrations… the girls are all leaving. And there are a couple of birthdays to be had (including mine). I left my big bag there, chucked a few things in my day pack and took off to Little Corn Island for a week.

Thursday 3 November

Black in black

We arrived back into León and went straight back to ViaVia. The recent good weather had made it possible for us to reconsider volcano boarding. So we got settled in & went across the road to book ourselves in for the next day. I was excited but secretly terrified.

The next morning, while I waited for Skye – a muscular dude with silky skin; clean, neat dreads and an amiable demeanour came over to introduce himself in Spanish. I told him what I tell everyone else, “Mi Español is terrible!” We switched to English & got chatting. I learnt he was part-Nicaraguan and had spent the better part of his life in NYC. He was an articulate documentary-maker with some interesting things to say. One of his films was about the Black Christ and the other was on the subject of young Nicaraguan baseball players who get screwed over financially for their talent.

Anthony told me he would be our guide for the day. We met the others in our group as we climbed up into a bright orange army truck. There was a weekend warrior from Melbourne, who was travelling around Central America at breakneck speed (basically collecting passport stamps). I think he said he’d done 6 countries in 2 weeks. And 2 friendly and fit-looking snowboarding Canadian girls. The three of them were all in their mid 20s.

Cerro Negro is only 400m high but the ascent is steep and tough, especially on a stinking hot day. It is one of the most active volcanoes in Nicaragua. The latest eruption happened in 1999. Since its birth in 1850, it has erupted approximately 23 times. It’s approximately a 45 minute hike up black chunky volcanic rocks which degenerate into a fine black sand, making it trickier to climb the higher you go.

Skye and I had to make several stops on the way up. She has a heart condition which means she needs to take it easy and ensure her heart rate doesn’t escalate too high, too fast. Me? Well, since my last bootcamp session with Tobes just before my 40th birthday nearly a year ago – I must confess I’ve done very little strenuous exercise, so I’m a little out of shape.

Anthony was carrying Skye’s board and offered on many occasions to carry mine as well. But I had challenged myself to the whole shebang. And as tempting as it was, I was bloody determined to do it unassisted. We made it up. Quite a ways behind the others. But we did it!

Nicaragua really has stolen my heart in a very short space of time. Not least for the diversity in its geography. It’s just gorgeous. From the jewel-like Caribbean, sweeping tropical plains rise up to meet a chain of 13 volcanoes on the Pacific coast – making for a truly majestic landscape. And here I was, standing on top of one of those volcanoes.

About to do something that can only be described as Stupid.

We hopped into our big bright orange jumpsuits and put on out goggles. Anthony gave us a little bit of a background of how this stupidity all began.

Needless to say, it was an Aussie who came up with the bright idea. A Queenslander by the name of Darryn Webb who apparently tested a variety of methods of boarding the mountain: boogie boards, mattresses and even a fridge door.

Anthony briefed us on how to control the speed and the direction of the board. Which was really just a piece of MDF with a couple of strips of Formica on the underside, a little strip of timber acrossways to rest our feet upon, and a waterski rope handle.

Bigfoot uses a police speed gun to clock people’s speeds as they’re coming down the slippery sandy slope. The record is 82km / hour and is held by an English girl. The slowest person took 15 minutes to get down the hill. I personally wasn’t about speed. I just wanted to get down in one piece.

Given my inclination to fall over non-existent cracks in the footpath – I really am not the sort of person who should be hurtling herself off the side of a volcano on a tiny plank of wood. Don’t ask me why I keep putting myself in these situations. It’s probably got something to do with that other character who insists on getting riotously drunk before having to travel somewhere for 12 hours.

One of the gutsy little Canadian girls went down first and she was gunning it! From our vantage point it looked as though she had made it all the way down without a stack. The other Canadian girl went next and we saw her crash & burn several times.

I got on my board, sat down, and off I went! I could hear Anthony yelling at me, his voice fading fast, “LIFT YOUR FEET!” I think I literally went down braking the whole way. Every time I tried to lift my feet, in an attempt to pick up speed, I felt myself lose control of the board. I’d get scared and drop them back down again. I was collecting massive amounts of ash (not hot, thank fuck) between the board and under my legs and this was slowing me down even more. The rate I was going, there was no way on earth I was going to be falling off. That being said, volcanic sand was still flying everywhere and it was still a complete head rush.

I knew I was erring on the side of caution but I was still surprised when I got to the bottom and they told me i had clocked a god-almighty speed of 15km / hour. Just call me Speedy freakin Gonzales. I just laughed. It seriously felt like I was going at least 3 times that. There was a part of me that wanted to go back and do it all over again, this time really throwing caution to the wind.

Skye came down next. A wee bit faster and with a few tumbles thrown in for good measure.

Then it was the Weekend Warrior’s turn. He looked to be a moving at a pretty decent speed, when he had a nice looking stack about ½ way down. His board was a good few metres up the hill from where he had landed and so he started scrambling his way back up to retrieve it.

Meanwhile, Anthony had already started his mission and was tearing down the mountain at a rate of knots. He was heading straight for WW and we all stood at the bottom, thinking surely he had seen the WW and would divert his course any second now. Surely.

He didn’t. And he launched straight into the WW at full throttle. His board flew into the air. He somehow managed to somersaulted over the top of him, and collect him all at once. I saw a board fly into the air.

At the bottom there was a collective gasp, yelp, and cringe. The pair of them stood up almost immediately, so we figured it couldn’t have been too bad. They made it down without further incident. There was some blood but nothing was broken.

We got back to the hostel and celebrated our speeds and stacks with many many mojitos. So many in fact, that I was in bed by 7 o’clock that night. Note to self: Water not cocktails after strenuous exercise.

I woke up the next day feeling very bruised in more ways than one and so not up for a day of travel to the colonial town of Granada, where we would spend the next few days.

I came down a little ill for a couple of days, which may have tainted my views on the place. But to be honest, Granada has been one of my least favourite places. It’s a big dirty city, there’s a lot beggars and insofar as colonial cities go it hasn’t got a patch on my pretty Antigua, as far as I’m concerned.

The highlights for me included catching up with Dave & Suze. Skye & I had a few delicious healthy meals at a place called The Garden Cafe. I visited the museum and a few boutique galleries and talked with some local artists, which was cool. But that was about the size of it.

I was dead keen to get to Isla de Ometepe, which LP described as something out of a fairytale… an island set between “two volcanic peaks which rise from the hazy blue expanse of Cocibolca, ‘the Sweet Sea’ (Lago de Nicaragua), and form an hourglass of beaches and jungles cinched to a sinuous isthmus between them.”

Just what the doctor ordered.

Friday 28 October