It’s fair to say that I really did under-estimate the size of Central America and the ability to go between places as and when I wanted. Yet another day was spent on the bus on January 2nd getting to Managua in Nicaragua. On arrival I thought I’d spend a night in the capital city before heading south to its colonial lakeside wonder; Granada, in the morning. I turned the corner from the bus station and checked into Guest House Santos which Lonely Planet describes as “a legendary backpacker spot with a laid-back vibe and plenty of character”. That sadly wasn’t too much in evidence as I was about the only person staying there!
In Granada the following morning I checked into the Bearded Monkey backpackers and spent a couple of hours eating lunch (below) and walking around yet another colonial town in scorching sunshine.
Mid-afternoon I decided to up the ante a bit and booked onto a zip-lining expedition in the foreground of Volcan Mombacho. Overall there were 11 cables for us to zip along over the jungle canopy in a variety of styles such as Superman, upside down and of course the more conventional manner. It was good to do something a bit more active but didn’t set the pulse rating too much as this was the kind of thing I did a lot as a child.
My second day in Granada was far more eventful as fellow Brit Paul (who had started to annoy me from the off but when you’re travelling you can get desperate for company that you have to put up with such people!) and I rented some bicycles to go to Laguna de Apoyo with this crater lake considered to be one of the country’s natural wonders.
The rental place told us the vague directions which led to us cycling for an hour down a dual-carriageway which was not what we really wanted as a bus could have transported us down that road for just a couple of extra dollars. We ended up going too far and missing the turn and a short while after turning back Paul got a puncture. Not long after that a chicken bus came by and he got on that and they threw the bicycle on top whilst I followed the bus for as long as I could keep up with it which wasn’t too long.
At the turn off the road was a bit more up and down culminating in the final 4km which was thankfully all downhill but ultimately not as fun as it sounds as it was bumpy as hell and there was a lot of pressure on my arms as I held on to the handlebars and brakes for dear life.
Despite all my many bicycle rides in recent times I was exhausted on my arrival at the lagoon and fairly disappointed to be fair. I had a quick swim and then went to find a place called the Monkey Hut which, for $6, allowed you use of their facilities including kayaks and inner tubes. As I wanted too impressed and wanted to get back to Granada for my afternoon trip I declined and decided to wait for a chicken bus to take me back up to the highway. I hadn’t seen Paul since he boarded one a couple of hours earlier but by chance when I got on board he was already on it and despite my earlier proclamation about him I was actually glad to see him.
Back in the saddle riding along the highway all was going fine until a couple of kilometres from the turn-off for Granada (at the Puma garage seen below.
I never realised they did anything other than manufacture sports goods) I too got a puncture and had to drag the heavy bike all the way back to the agency via the derelict Hospital Viejo (above) which took over an hour and all-in-all was a bit of a nightmare BUT it did give me something to write about here and in a way thats what travel is all about for me.
Masaya volcano night tour was on the agenda from 3pm which started with an hours shopping of tourist tat in Masaya followed by some crater views and a bit of climbing.
The undoubted highlight though was the bat cave in pitch black darkness which saw three of us go into a cave at one time where we were then told to turn off our torches.
We could hear the bats flying around us which was pretty scary and made almost worse when I pushed the clicker on my camera and saw the bright picture flash up on screen showing me how many bats there were (loads!) and how blo*dy close they were to me. I felt like Bruce Wayne in ‘Batman Begins‘ (2005) with the swarm of bats flying around me which was quite unnerving.