A Travellerspoint blog

A little flexibility


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Luke had met Amanda and Lina at the hostel the night before. They had been traveling together for a few weeks.It was very clear right away that Amanda was the flexible one going along with Lina as they bounce from one place to another. Amanda was asking us about the Lake so Luke pulled out his travel guide and Lina shrugged at him saying "oh you have one of those!" Now I'm all for spontaneous travel and not fully relying on guides but information never hurts. Amanda chimed in saying how it's nice to not know where you're going but during their travels they wasted so much time trying to figure things out and trying to get from one place to another. They found out that we were headed to Ometepe. Amanda started talking Lina into going. Lina's response to every question or suggestion was "I don't know". She didn't know where she wanted to go or when. She did not want to plan anything. She kept shooting down ideas without giving a reason. Amanda was pretty frustrated. Luke and I thought it was pretty amusing but we decided to stay out of it and let the two of them work it out.

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Posted by nawaf 18:35 Archived in Nicaragua Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Hot as hell

130 °F
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The heat here in Granada, Nicaragua is unbearable! That was my first observation as I got off the taxi. The taxi driver told me he knew where Hostel Oaises is. He didn't! So when we reached town he asked some guy on the street and he pointed us a few streets down from Central Park. We reached a beautiful street that was blocked off for traffic. The street was filled with trees, tables and restaurants on both sides. Some guy told us that the hotel is 2 blocks down that street. So I got off the taxi and walked towards the hotel. Four blocks later and no sign of the hotel. I stopped some local guy and I asked him. He laughed and said the hotel is on the opposite side of town. He started giving me directions then he said "I'm walking in that direction too so just follow me". He seemed quite nice and when he found out I'm from the states he switched to English. His English was surprisingly good. Turns out he lived in the states for several years. We started talking politics and he kept saying if I can get out of this place I would in a heartbeat. Nicaragua has a certain allure to some people including myself. Nature is spectaclar, the people are simple, everything is very affordable but that's all from a visitor's perspective. For the people that are living the daily life it's a constant struggle to survive. I understand what he was trying to say. A few minutes later we ge to the intersection where Oaises is. He bids me farewell and we part ways.

I walk into Oaises and I was pleasently surprised. The hostel is quite nice with a very laid back atmosphere. I immediately find Luke and I settle in. My bed was one of 16 in a dorm-style room. Many people have recommended the Bearded Monkey which has been a popular hostel for backpackers. The problem with popular hostels is that at some point management starts caring less about the upkeep of the place since they get a steady flow of customers. Luke stayed there and didn't think it was very clean and many of the bathrooms didn't work. What a shame! Oaises had a swimming pool, free internet, plenty of hammocks and a giant mural. There were people lounging, swimming or napping in hammocks at all times of the day.

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It was hot, sweaty and sticky. As soon as I settle in I asked Luke to head out to get some water and lunch. We walked around town and saw many restaurants, coffee shops and oddly enough many watch repairmen! There was a street market but I guess there's a street market in every town. It definitely felt like a poor version of Antigua. We grabbed lunch and Luke headed back to the hostel and I went to go up the bell tower at one of the churches. The church was somewhat centrally located and had a beautiful facade. I paid a dollar and climbed up the narrow spiral stairs to the top. The view was beautiful. You can see all of Granada, mountains and volcanoes at the horizon. I stayed there for quite a while just admiring the view and I waited to see the sunset from up there. As I waited some man came up and grabbed the ropes tied to the bells and started ringing them. It was pretty loud standing next to two giant bells. While I was up there I met a couple from Texas. The girlfriend is Nicaraguan living in Texas. She was down there visiting her family and her boyfriend came to see her. We chatted a bit about the different places to see and visit in Nicaragua. She was telling me about all the places where she was going to take him. He seemed very young and shy but excited about being there. I watched the sun disappear behind the mountains and watched as the sky turned into a beautiful painting. It was very peaceful.

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Luke had met a few people the night before and we all ended up going to the pool hall. Pool halls in Central America are macho hangouts. Guys go there to drink and blow off some steam so you hardly see any women. We walk in and there were four girls with us. Everyone was staring at us of course. I went to the back room to check it out while we waited for a table. There were people playing cards, some playing the slot machines and one guy was passed out on a table! I head back and we had a table. The guy comes over and racks the balls with his forearms. He was pretty fast and good at it. The place was pretty shady but we had a great time. After a few rounds of pool we decided to get a late night bite. We went to that first street where I was dropped off. The street was alive with people sitting on the tables set up on the cobblestone street. We had dinner and watched people walk by before we went to sleep. Well attempted to sleep! It was way too hot and sticky to really sleep but the next day we were heading out to Ometepe. I was hoping it's a bit cooler there.

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Posted by nawaf 18:11 Archived in Nicaragua Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Niharahwa

sunny 85 °F
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I flew into Managua Airport. Luke had been in Nica for about a week now and the day I arrived he was in Granada. The plan was to take a taxi to Managua then take a bus from Managua to Granada which woulda cost about $1. With my luck I arrived at the Airport just to find out that there's a serious political protest that same day. Everyone warned me from going into the capital so my only option was to take a taxi directly to Granada. I wasn't too happy about that. The price I was quoted by taxi drivers was $45. No way I was going to pay that much for a taxi in Nica. For that price I'd rather go to Managua and participate in the protest. I finally managed to bring the price down to $25 for an hour ride to Granada. I followed the taxi driver outside the airport to some side road where his beat up car was parked. It had a taxi sign on the roof. It felt a bit shady and it got even more shady when he took the sign down and tossed it in the backseat. I stayed calm and off we went. We passed a few towns that I recognized from the bus route that I was supposed to take so I felt more comforted. If this old man wanted to rob me he woulda done it by now. The fact that some other traveler told me about his story getting robbed on a taxi didn't help but at that point I felt pretty safe.

On the way to Granada I noticed that Nicaragua is so vividly green but far more flat than Guatemala. I kinda liked the crazy terrain of Guatemala. I also noticed that Nica felt much quiter and emptier than Guatemala. I chatted with the taxi driver about my observations and he seems to agree with me for the most part. He said Nicaragua is very calm generally and safer than other Central American countries. I couldn't help but to notice that his accent was a bit difficult to understand. After a few days in Nicaragua I realized that it wasn't the driver's accent it was the Nicaraguan accent. For some reason they don't like to pronounce all the letters, don't say much and when they do they speak very softly.

Posted by nawaf 18:04 Archived in Nicaragua Tagged transportation Comments (0)

Trying to catch up

Pana was my last stop in Guatemala and writing about it feels like quite the acomplishment. It is often hard to find time to write and blog but I continue to try to keep it up to date. After Pana I made it to Nicaragua and now I'm in Costa Rica already! Over the next few weeks I'll be writing about my adventures in Nica and Costa. Thank you all for continuing to visit my blog and stay tuned for more. Pura Vida!

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Posted by nawaf 19:56 Comments (2)

Tourists not backpackers

semi-overcast 70 °F
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The next day I went to Panajachel to spend the night there. As soon as I arrived in Pana I noticed how different it was. San Pedro and Santa Cruz were quite towns. Pana on the other hand was packed with tourists and travelers. The main street is lined on both sides with artisan markets selling all kinds of arts and crafts. There was a ton of restaurants, coffee shops and bars along the street and people just walked up and down the road. It was mostly tourists and not travelers or backpackers. Let me clarify quickly. Tourists are those people who are on vacation for a very short amount of time where money is not an issue. They stay at nice hotels and they spend money left and right at restaurants and markets. Travelers and backpackers are there for weeks, months or even years (Marc is traveling for 16 months!) Travelers and backpackers are the type of people I run into and make friends with easily since we're all going through the same experience. Time is not as much of an issue but money is. So we always share tips and stories of places to stay at and places to visit. I don't know why I got sidetracked but to get back to what I was trying to say Pana had many coach buses filed with tourists. Nevertheless it was nice to see so many people around for a change. Around sunset I went to Sunset Cafe (of course!) which is right by the water. The sunset was breathtaking. The sun sets behind the mountains facing the lake.

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I stayed at Mario's Rooms in Pana and I must say that was the best place I stayed at since I've been here comfort-wise. The mattress was firm and did not sag in the middle, the room was super clean and free of bugs. The next day I headed to the other side of Pana closer to the other dock. There were many restaurants right by the water. The food is pretty good and the view is beautiful. It seems that no matter where you are on the lake you always get a wonderful view. The lake is absolutely stunning and the current situation is truly unfortunate not for travelers alone but for the inhabitants mostly.

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Posted by nawaf 19:43 Archived in Guatemala Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

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