Hola todos y todas!
Sorry for the lack of updates, we´ve be in very rustic areas as well as very touristy areas that only have wireless (frustrating!).
Last Thursday we left beautiful Granada, Nicaragua (after a semi-American breakfast at Kathy´s Waffle house. I´m pretty sure Lex will never return due to sheer awkwardness, but you´ll have to ask her about that one) and boarded a fantastically decorated local bus reminding us: Dio es Amor.
Kathy´s Waffle House. Why export only?!
We arrived in Rivas and took a short cab ride (with doors that did not open) to San Jorge where the ferry leaves for Isla de Ometepe.
Ferry to Ometepe
I don´t remember who, but someone mentioned that the ferries they use to cross the turbulent Lago de Nicaragua (an absolutely massive lake that would take over 12 hours to cross) are the ones that are illegal in the EU because they tend to capsize. So I´m thinking whatever, I can see Ometepe from here, it can´t be that far or that rough of waters. Turns out Lago de Nicaragua feels like open water and I was holding on to the ferry and everything I own. Now Lex will tell you that it wasn´t that bad, that I´m overreacting, but trust me, that ferry was one rogue wave from capsizing.
We stayed at the picturesque Hotel Finca Venecia (complete with random pictures of Venice on the walls).
A new friend at Finca Venecia
It was cheap, had a restaurant, and was on the beach so we were excited. Apparently cheap in rural areas also means random power outages. This would not have been a problem during the day, but at night it is as black as the dark side of the moon and we felt pretty helpless. It made for some amazing star gazing…and thats about it. We ended up eating at the hotel instead of wandering around a pitch black road we had never seen in daylight.
The next day we ate breakfast at a random roadside tienda with an overly formal waiter and thought it would be a brilliant idea to rent bikes that we could then take all over the island. All the locals had them, great idea right? Wrong. Turns out riding bikes on a volcano with only one paved road is HARD. Very hard. And up hill both ways. Despite the hilarious challenge of our decrepid mountain bikes, we had a great day exploring Altagracia, Playa Santo Domingo, and Ojo de Agua – a lovely natural spring that is said to heal all illnesses and relieve all pains. The funny thing is that it takes 6 km of dusty/hilly road to get there so at that point anything feels good. Amazing, exhausting day. So happy to be there…though Lex says she wouldn´t go back.
Playa Santo Domingo
Travel tips for Ometepe: there is only one ATM on the entire 2 islands (which does NOT take MasterCard) and under no circumstances should you rent bikes. Just don´t do it.
Then we were off to Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Has anyone else ever walked across a border before? Very strange experience. We almost didn´t even get our stamps on the CR side, though we did almost get hit by a few semi trucks.
Don´t ask why we went to Tamarindo, we just did. We knew it would be a touristy surfer town, but seriously, it looks like it was transplanted from San Diego. TamaGRINGO dude!
Lex in TamaGRINGO
In any case, we met some nice locals and stayed in a cute little hotel/hostel (minus the scorpions…I freaked out). I went to my first Central American discoteque and it was all that I thought it could be. I felt like I was 17 and on MTV Spring Break woohoo! Fortunately, we got a good tip to take a day trip out to Playa Conchal (literally, Shell Beach), with its millions on tiny crushed shells instead of sand. It was clean and less-populated, though we did hear some great Jay-Z thanks to some Brazilian chicas. For the first time in my life I really enjoyed swimming in the ocean (VERY different from rocky NW beaches) and I also had my first major wipe out…just trying to wade in…it was apparently hilarious.
Today, we left Tamarindo pretty early and took a bus to Santa Cruz, then a bus to Nicoya, then another bus to Samara. A couple people we met in Tamarindo, who were coincidentally from the Bay Area, were astonished that we´ve been taking buses, as if we were SO brave. In reality, we´re just cheap. Even some 3 hour bus trips are 50 cents to a dollar. We also have come to appreciate seeing a more authentic view of these small towns. We are on buses with kids going to school, people bringing large bags of rice home, women selling pan and frescas of all kinds. Lex and I stand out a little bit, but it’s always been safe and everyone has been really nice – if only because we´re there sweating along with the rest of them 🙂
We arrived in Samara this afternoon and Lex immediately fell in love with it. If for some reason Lex is not with me when I return to SF, look for her in Samara. It is a small, super tranquilo beach town, with the amenities of Tamarindo, but with a sweet attitude where everyone says hello whether they know you or not. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset with some Imperial beers, which I have learned are mandatory in CR.
View from the hotel in Samara
We are staying at the perfect little hotel/hostel – Casa Valeria. It’s slightly off the main street, hidden by trees, and if we had judged it by its sign we never would have gone it. We are in a private room with a bathroom, fan, tiled porch, beach side, with common kitchen, and outdoor ocean shower…all for $30 a night. Not bad, especially considering we can cook most of our meals in the full kitchen. Tonight we had some left-over pasta that Lex had made in Tamarindo. Perfect really.
I heart Samara.
We´re planning on staying in Samara for at least 2 nights, maybe longer :), before heading further south to Montezuma, CR. Anyone ever been there? We´ve heard great things.
Hope all is well stateside! Pura vida!
– A N I –