It was refreshing to cross into Nicaragua. Buses are less than a dollar plus more unusual gringo tax pops up unexpectedly but given you need to cross borders you don't argue...nearly made that mistake crossing into Zimbabwe!
First stop has been Isla de Ometepe and duet of volcanoes within Lago Nicaragua. The larger volcano Concepcion is meant to be a perfect example of a cone volcano...would agree with half that statement as the top was always cloudy! Wanted to climb it but given the amount of cloud and rain decided against.
What i did do was jump on a motorbike for the day to explore the island and swallow the islands insect population! Was inspired by a British retired couple i met on the ferry who had travelled from Ushuaia, Chile on their GS650's...means you are never too late to explore the world...the wife only past her test 4 months before leaving! Riding on my Yumbo 200 was great fun and nice to have the wind through my hair! More than enough power given the road quality. Was great to ride through villages waving and smiling at the locals who responded positively...i was perfecting my royal wave! Highlights are seeing the volcanoes from numerous grey angles and the beautiful beaches on the lake...can see what a hot spot this is outside the rainy season! Given an off-roader i decided to take the bike on the beach for a little play in the sand and water. To end the ride I had a reminder of the downside to motorcycling...it rained cats and dogs and my jeans lapped it up...so to avoid more rain I flew through the countryside which meant rain slapping me in the face of my open visor...note to self get a closed visor for riding in London!
Arriving in Granada is like the Latin America I have seen before and loved. Bustling streets, market dwellers and old colonial architecture with no neon in sight!
First stop Cafe De Las Sonrisas where the staff are deaf and they also make beautiful hammocks...if only i could fit one into my bag! Next stop Doña Elba Cigars to roll my own fat cigar...although no elegant thighs to roll against just my own "oaks". Perfect smoking spot will be the beach next week in Utila. Then jumped into a taxi to Volcan Masaya for the afternoon/evening. The beauty of travelling...within a few hours you can see so many different and beautiful things!
Volcan Masaya was an amazing spectacle with all the sulphurous smoke billowing out. Believe to be the most active in Nicaragua...so was ready to run at any moment! The view across the valleys and lakes with the sun setting was remarkable. So nice to see a volcano without cloud! As a bonus we went to some solidified lava tunnels full of bats as it was getting dark...hmmm my favourite!
Like all hard working travellers you need rest days so i took a day out from my hectic schedule to sun bath (yup i am still working on it!) at Laguna De Apoyo. A volcanic lake with the clearest water in the country. So read, swam to bathing platform, read, swam about and read. Worth recharging the batteries as that night was carnival night with processions and marching bands all night!! Mini Notting Hill but without the Red Stripe. Love stumbling into local cultural events along the gringo trail!
Next stop Leon which was the scene of the recent revolution as well as the name for the original capital (about 30km away but covered in Volcanic Ash). Like Granada it is a nice colonial town but with not as good restoration and preservation as Granada and therefore less touristy.
Also my excitement for coming to Leon is my desire to see hot molten lava. Obviously not too close and this is what Volcan Telica offered...although not quite and good enough hence no photos. The climb up was in torrential rainfall and thunder showers that we had to turn back halfway. After a little respite we made it to the top. This ginormous crater had serious sulphur gas spewing out to the extent my throat and eyes were hurting...luckily decided not to stay too long. As the sun was setting the occasional glimpse of lava glowing could be seen...but my days of lava hunting are not over yet as Guatemala has decent active volcanoes to climb!
To break up the journey to Honduras I took 3 bus journeys northwards through the mountains to Somoto and its canyon. Why do people selling food on buses have to be sooo fat? They can barely squeeze past and yet have to do the whole bus in seconds?!? Although they do bake some delicious treats at cheap cheap prices!! Bonus of these chicken buses are the classic 80's/90's music...my fave "No Limit" by 2 Unlimited.
The canyon is nice although water was a little low. Had a nice lazy river with a few jumps...chicken Palmer managed 6m drop whereas my guide 15m. Whilst crapping myself looking at muddy water below I kept asking myself "how do you know how deep it is???" Not only heights also had to contend with spiders on the rocks where my hands went for support!! What was meant to be relaxing was a little nerve racking!!