Wednesday, December 9, 2009


We had a wonderful time in Nicaragua and I can’t wait to go back. Next time we definitely want to check out Ometempe and stay on Little Corn Island

Leon was our favorite place. We really liked the city and colonial architecture. While we liked Granada we found it to be too polished and touristy while Leon as more raw and real.

San Juan Del Sur was ok - while we had a good time there and the beaches north and south of town were stunning I doubt I'd go back

Corn Island - was pretty boring as there wasn't much going on when we were there. I never saw many other tourists the entire time we were there. Next time we'll pass Big Corn and just stay on Little Corn

One of the best parts about traveling was meeting so many wonderful people: Tom and Cat from the UK, Walter and Rock from Zoom Bar, Bill from Seattle, Alex from the Pan American in Granada, Catherine from Wisconsin, Sundrop from Brooklyn, Mark and Jim from La Perla, Jamie from Leon, and everybody else we met on our travels.

Where we stayed:

Hotel Terrasol in Granada - great place with friendly owners - definitely worth the $40/night. Only draw backs were the tiny room, no hot water, and the a/c only seemed to really work at night

Hotel Colonial in San Juan Del Sur - A decent place to stay but nothing special. We met some other people who stayed at Gran Ocenano and it sounded like a better deal.

Olazul - I thought this place was nice and a good bargain - comfortable rooms, right on the beach, and a good restaurant. I'd stay there again.

La Perla - Incredible Hotel would definitely stay there again in a heartbeat

Things I learned:

In most places a 10% tip and $15% tax is added to the bill for meals. In Leon, Las Penitas, and Corn Island we were not charged tax and the tip wasn't included. Some places would have a tip jar on the counter and at others the waitresses seemed surprised when I gave them something extra. I'm guessing tipping in some places is not the norm.

Most of the food there is EXCELLENT!

The main roads are in excellent condition. There are not a lot of signs so it's good to know where you are going. The only palces we needed a vehicle with a high clearance were the roads to the beaches north on SJDS

Everybody is very friendly and while not many spoke any english as long as you know some basic Spanish you can get by.

Day 18 - going home

I slept ok during the night - in the morning I feeling a little better but still not 100%. Kat brought me some fruit and tea to the room. We didn't have to leave for the airport until 11 so I just hung out in the room until it was time to go. Once at the airport we were quickly checked in and went through security to the terminal. At the Managua airport almost all the restaurants are located before you go through security. once in the terminal there is one restaurant which is also the smoking lounge along with a bunch of overpriced gift shops and duty free stores. By this time I was pretty hungry so I got a crappy chicken salad sandwich that seemed to be mostly mayonnaise from the restaurant. Kat found us some yummy empanadas from a booth way at the end of the terminal. Our fight boadred on time and our trip home was pretty uneventful.

Arriving in San Francisco we had to endure the shock of 36 degree weather and rain - of course we didn't have any long pants or a jacket.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 17 - Managua

We woke up early since we had to be at the airport at 7am. We had arranged for a taxi to pick us at 7 but he showed up at 7:20. We checked our bags, got some orange juice at the snack bar, and were on our plane at 8:30. This time it was a much smaller plane and I sat right behind the co-pilot. We didn't stop in Bluefields and instead flew direct to Managua.

Flight from Corn Island to Managua

Video of landing at Managua
Once in Managua we were met by Manfred from La Pyramide Hotel. When we got closer to the Hotel he pointed out some nearby restaurants that we might like to go have lunch and how it was safe to walk around as the neighborhood pays for security guards to be stationed on almost every block. Once at the hotel we got our nice room and were brought some glasses of fruit juice. We walked over the main street and had some beers and Quesadillas at Hippo's which is a totally American style trendy restaurant - even the menu had everything in dollars instead of cordobas. Next we took a walk to the Metro Centro Mall which was pretty similar to any Mall in America except with armed guards at most store entrances. The mall was pretty packed as everybody had just received their x-mas bonus money and were out doing x-mas shopping.

We then walked to the Supermercado to get our favorite Chilero hot sauce, some Flor de Cana, and coffee to take back home. After we checked out of the supermarket $80 poorer but now loaded down with 10 pounds, or coffee, 2 liters of rum, and 12 bottles of hot sauce I realised that I only had a $20 bill on me and no taxi driver was going to have change for that! We started the long walk in the hot sun back to the hotel taking a wrong turn along the way. Fortunately we found our way and finally made it back. I was feeling pretty tired and my stomach was a little funky so I took a nap. When I woke up I was really feeling crappy (no pun intended) and took some imodium. Kat had dinner at the hotel and brought me back some soup and tea which I ate and then went back to sleep.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 16 - Corn Island

I took my morning walk north of the hotel cutting off the road to the beach. I came across a cemetery on the beach and then followed a path that eventually lead back to the road.

Graveyard on Corn Island

Sally Peaches, Corn Island

I made it to the north side of the island when it started to rain pretty hard. Fortunately a taxi came right along and took me back to the hotel. After it stopped raining we took a taxi back to Fisherman's Cave for breakfast. We watched a boat arrive that was packed full of people and supplies. Someone told me that a great number of Moskito Indians migrate to the island on these boats looking for food and jobs. They live in a shanty town by the airport with no water or sewage system and have generally destroyed that part of the island.

Next we went back to Picnic Center for our last beach day.

After going back to our hotel we wanted to eat dinner somewhere else. There was a restaurant down the road that had smelled pretty good when we walked past the night before. We went in and ordered some beers and food. After about 45 minutes we were getting hungry and asked the waitress how much longer it was going to be and she said "I don't know". Now we're used to the Nica style of taking along time but this was getting ridiculous. We didn't even smell any food or hear and noise coming from the kitchen. After 15 more minutes I told her that I just wanted to pay for the beers and leave. She looked at the other girl working there and shrugged her shoulders. I gave her 120 cordobas and walked out. Back at our hotel we ordered a bottle of rum and coke and ate a tasty steak dinner.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Day 15 - Corn Island

Then power was out again in the morning - we were running low on money so we took a taxi to the bank and got some cash. From there we walked to Fisherman's Cave for breakfast. From there was went to Picnic Center for another day of beach time.

After getting back tom our hotel Kat took a nap and I hiked behind their property to the top of Mt Pleasant where I was rewarded with a great view of the east side of the island.

It was "country western" night a a bar down the road - we walked down there at about 7pm but there were not too many people there yet. Someone said it dosent start happening until after 9 - we were too tired to hang out that long so ended up going back to the hotel, had some dinner and then went to bed

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 14 - Little Corn Island

As usual, I woke up early and took a walk along long bay. The Moon guide book had mentioned a pyramid (actually the corner of a cube buried in the earth) supposedly located on top of Quinn hill that is supposedly one of 8 spots in the world where the vertices of a cube intercepts the land surface of the earth. (see I decided to look for it and followed the road up the hill. There are no houses in the area and it's completely deserted. I couldn't find a way to get to the top but finally found what resembled a pathway and followed it up scrambling among rocks and mud and finally got to the top where there was a Nica family eating breakfast outside their farmhouse. The farmer seemed pretty surprised to see a white guy walking out of the jungle and came over to me. We couldn't understand each other but he pointed out a better way to get back to the road and I thanked him and make my way back to the hotel. I later spoke with someone and they told me that the guide book was wrong and the pyramid is actually located closer to the airport.

Since we needed to be at the dock by 9am to take the boat to Little Corn Island we skipped breakfast and caught a taxi to the docks. We still had some time to kill so went to Fisherman's Cave for some coffee. Then waitress asked us if we wanted breakfast and we said no, since we had to catch the 9am boat. She told us that the boat didn't leave until 10am(!) so we ended up having breakfast. Once it was getting closer to 10am we walked over to the dock having to pay a 3 cordoba ($0.15) dock tax. The boat people took down our names and passport information (I guess in case the boat sinks and we drown they can notify the embassy). We got on the boat and they collected 110 cordobas for the ride ($5.50), The boat was about half full but they wanted everybody to fill in the rearmost seats. In the front they had a barrel of gasoline loaded right in front of us. The fumes were pretty bad. The ride across was pretty rough with some waves and slamming down but overall wasn't too bad. As we neared the pier on Little Corn one of the boat operators yelled that there were Nicaraguan Coast Guard on the pier and for everybody to put on their life jackets. We docked at the pier without a problem, someone gave us a map of the island and we made our way towards the east side to check out places to stay for our next trip. Along the main sidewalk on the west side of the island we saw lots of boats that had been washed ashore during the hurricane a few weeks earlier.
Nicaragua 12_02_2009 Little Corn Island - 101

The pathway took us past the "Bottle House" which is a pizza restaurant made our of beer and Flor de Cana bottles!

Bottle house - Little Corn Island

We made our way to Casa Iguana and went to their lodge for some beers. No shoes are allowed so we left them at the door and had a few Victorias while admiring the view of the beach

view from the lodge at Casa Iguana

Next we took a walk north along the beach seeing lots of trees that had, presumably, fallen during the hurricane. We came across a few places with inexpensive, no frills cabanas (more like shacks) along the beach - Elisa's Place, Cool Spot, and Sunrise Paradise where the path seemed to end. We went back to Elisa's place and saw some people that were on the boat with us and had a few beers. Some kids came along selling coconut bread that was still warm from the oven. We bought a huge loaf for 25 cordobas ($1.25). We couldn't eat it all so we ended us giving about 1/2 of it to a friendly dog who seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

It was now about 12:30 pm and the boat back to Big Corn left at 2pm so we headed back to the other side of the island and had a few more beers at a sidewalk bar and walked around until it was time to go to the boat. Then ride back seemed to be a little more smooth, getting back to the pier at 2:30 or so.

We took a taxi back to our hotel, had some Gatorade to rehydrate and took a nap. Later we walked across the street to Casa Canada for dinner. When we arrived there were some staff members sitting on the stairs to the restaurant. As soon as we walked in they turned out the lights! It was only 6:30 so no way were they closed so early - we went back to our hotel and ordered a bottle of rum which we drank while playing cards and then had a good spaghetti dinner before going to bed.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 13 - Corn Island

I woke up in the middle of the night to heavy rain. I was able to go back to sleep and then woke up again at 6:30. The power was out so i took a shower and went for a walk north along the road on the east side of the island. I saw some kids doing exercises on a sports field - I think they were part of a baseball team. After getting back to the hotel the power came back on at about 9am and we had some breakfast at the restaurant. After breakfast I took a walk south to Long Bay which was beautiful but it was windy and the waves were rougher then on the west side of the island. I stopped at the Island Style Bar for a beer - some locals were there playing dominoes.

Long Bay, Corn island
Long Bay, Corn Island

After walking back to the hotel we took a taxi to Picnic Center for some more time in the sun and water. There were only a handful of people there and got the feeling that there were hardly any tourists on the island. Later we were getting hungry and since the food the day before was a disappointment we took a taxi into town and got some good fried chicken at Fisherman's Cave - $2.50 for two pieces with a small salad and bread washed down with a few Victorias.

Took a taxi back to our hotel - Kat wasn't feeling well and went to go lay down. I walked to the store and got us some gatorade, chips, and cookies. Spent the rest of the night watching tv and went to sleep early