The Great Margration

Stories of my life on the road.

Nica November 17, 2010

Filed under: Out — margysaur @ 7:21 pm

Hey! Can anyone believe how totally November it is already? Me neither.

Here I am in Nicaragua, and it’s pretty great.  At the end of my last blog, I was getting ready to leave Granada.  I arrived safely in San Juan del Sur weekend before last, and have been enjoying this small Pacific beach town quite a lot.  From talking to people, it seems that they either hate this place or love it.  In fact, the Nicas are lovely but there’s definitely a pretty hardcore surfer/party scene here.  I can see how it could get annoying, but it´s not bad in small doses.  There are a lot of English-speaking folks who have settled here semi-permanently, which means that it´s possible to find some pretty decent hummus.  Without question, the highlight so far was leaving SJdS for Isla de Ometepe, a pair of conjoined volcanic islands: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ometepe .

On the island, I stayed at an organic coffee cooperative called Finca Magdalena, which had the most amazing coffee I have ever tasted.  The finca was located at the base of the smaller volcano – Maderas.  The two volcanoes are quite different, Conception being younger and more active, and Maderas being older and covered in cloud forest.  I decided to hike Maderas because there were promises of a lagoon in the crater to swim in after the tough hike.  Switchbacks are not a luxury afforded to hikers of this mountain, and we gained just over 4500 feet in less than 3.5 miles.  Experiences like that are always worth it, though, and this was no exception.  The next day I checked out some Mayan petroglyphs and some mineral springs before heading home with about 2000 new mosquito bites on each of my lower extremities.  I owe some deity much thanks if I don´t contract The Dengue in the next week or so.

This week, along with my Spanish classes, I´ve been amping up the physical activity with yoga classes and hiking the hills around town in preparation for climbing some Nica and Guatemalan volcanos over the next several weeks.  On the list is Tajumulco, the tallest volcano in Central America, at 13,845 ft.  Wish me luck.

Volcans Conception and Maderas as seen from San Jorge

Friendly bug

Mayan petroglyphs

Cacao – tastes nothing like chocolate, but is amazing.

Post swim in crater lake, happy to be there.

Signs posted all over Ometepe, many of them pointing, unaccountably, in opposite directions.  Point well taken.

San Juan del Sur as seen from the hills

 

Bocas del Torro October 11, 2010

Filed under: Out — margysaur @ 2:45 pm

Hola amigos. I’m currently languishing in the heat of an idyllic and touristy little town off the coast of north Caribbean Panama. My weather widget says high of 30, low of 23. I don’t know what that means either, but with the associated humidity I believe we’re hovering somewhere around 120. Despite this unfortunate circumstance, I am sort of in love with this place. The ocean is visible from almost anywhere in town, and there are multiple bar parties every night with “drink specials” that usually just translate to free drinks if you are a girl. No complaints there. While I’ve been trying to take advantage of this luxury as often as possible, classes sometimes get in the way. I’ve been continuing to take 4 hours per day of Spanish, which has been pretty great. I love all my teachers here, more so than in Turrialba. Also, since the surfing was apparently non-existent last week, I decided to get a PADI open water certification. The prices for doing that around here are almost unbeatable. Good news! I’ve fallen in love with yet another expensive leisure activity. I passed my final dive test yesterday, and am already planning to squeeze in the advanced open water certification before I leave next weekend.
Diving is ridiculously fantastic. One thing I love is that it has nearly eliminated an excessive fear of getting water in my nose, from which I’ve suffered since a swimming pool incident at age 5. Part of the class involves losing your mask and regulator (breathing apparatus) while in open water, then recovering them. The first time I did it, I was certain I would die – from panic if not drowning – but by the second time it was no big deal. Psychological hurdles aside, being deep underwater is one of the most peaceful, beautiful experiences I’ve had. My instructor told me about swimming with whale sharks in Honduras, immediately after which I will die a happy, fulfilled person. Don’t worry, though, I don’t think they’re in season until January or February. Oh! And yesterday when we came back to the boat after a dive we found ourselves in the middle of a humongous herd of what I think were sardines – many hundreds of them – leaping simultaneously from the water like miniature dolphins.
My new friends here are quite nice. I find myself once again surrounded by Germans, Swiss (German-speaking), and Dutch folks. They are usually nice enough to speak in English, although I can’t blame them for reverting often. Instead I curse my parents for not making me learn German when I had the chance. Alas.
All for now. Hasta luego!