Nicaragua, land of volcanoes greeted me in the form of a pristine 5-star hostel/hotelito and a sweet and helpful hostess of the mostess, Paula. To make matters more pleasant, I was hooked up with a great tour guide and ended up with a great travel companion for four days. Joyce was from Kenya practicing transplant nursing in Texas and is every bit the travel junkie that I am. She has visited over 55 countries and travels solo three months out of the year. We have probably been to 40 of the same countries and had plenty to talk about.
Midnight arrival after a 12-hour bus trip from El Salvador.
La Bicicleta – Home Sweet Home
Sharing our fantastic tour guide, Peltier, also saved us a quite a few bucks along the way, and made our activities effortless. He knows all the best places throughout Nicaragua as evidenced by the fact that I am typing this at “El Barrio Cafe” in San Juan del Sur. Even though this place is at the South end of the country and he’s at the North, he dished me up this little gem of a recommendation. If you’re ever flying into Managua, do yourself a big favor and stay at La Bicicleta Hostal, and take a tour or two from Peltier. His number is (+505)8868 5747. Or just have Paula make the arrangements for you.
Platanos – Our first stop was the market in Managua.
Fugazi Cubanos – Fake Cuban Cigars
DON’T MISS THAT MINION!
Presidential Palace – At least all that is left of it. The 1972 Nicaragua Earthquake destroyed over 90% of the city of Managua and displaced two-thirds of Managua’s one million residents.
Effigy of Augusto César Sandino standing on the foundation of the palace of his former nemesis Samosa, another corrupt dictator in the pocket of the U.S. government. Will we ever learn?
VIEW FROM THE TOP
The tank on the right is a gift to the Samosa government from ….. wait for it ….. Benito Mussolini. Seriously, shows you what a swell bunch these Samosa’s were. And we were supporting the Contras. Unfrickinbelievable! Sandino was lured to the Palace for a meeting and subsequently ambushed and murdered. This was the flashpoint for the Sandinista Revolution. Frankly, the Nicaraguans have every reason to treat us (US Tourists) with resentment for our government’s past deeds, but they do not blame us for the actions of our politicians. Very nice people, indeed. So if you’re heading to Central America be sure and spend some of your money here. They deserve it, and you will find it much appreciated.
MEMORIAL TO ALBERTO SANDINO
Volcanic crater from the other side.
CITY SQUARE – The church in the middle was rendered unusable in the quake. Upon closer inspection, you can see large fissures in the structure, as well as, bullet holes from the revolution. The church clock is frozen at 12:29 am, the time that the earthquake hit on December 23rd.
One major governmental building that survived the 1972 quake.
Park alongside Lake Managua
Miniature Managua – The city was torn out of the lives of the people of Managua. They had little time to grasp what had happened. This is a project to rebuild as much of the city as possible so many can take a walk down memory lane to visit places that they lived and worked. Peltier and Joyce are in the background.
This shot kind of messes with your sense of scale and proportion.
SAD LION – This is a memorial piece for the great Nicaraguan poet, Ruben Dario who is buried here.
Dead Jesus vs. Resurrected Jesus
Pope John Paul II – He visited in 1983 and consecrated the church.
Great Roof – It felt very Gaudíesque to me.
LA GIGANTONA – Seen in parades and festivals, the gigantonas represent the oppressive nature of Spain’s relationship with Nicaragua.
IMPORTANT STREET ART – This depicts the victory over Samosa and the U.S. in the Sandinista Revolution. The bookended images of Sandino show him with his foot rested on the heads of two dogs. Samosa on the left, and Uncle Sam on the right. We are supposed to be the defenders of democracy but failed to assist the Nicaraguan people to attain theirs. Even more shocking is the fact that our government used the cocaine trade in Nicaragua to help bankroll the Contras, and flooded our country with cocaine and caused the crack epidemic in many urban centers. Of course, we also sold arms to Iran to fund the same demented policies.
About a week ago, I made the decision to move to France. Stuff like this makes the decision all the more easy to come to terms with. After the debacle in Iraq, two terms of “W”, and the stench that is currently wafting out of D.C., one wonders how our country can maintain any kind equilibrium whatsoever. With someone as crass and debilitatingly inhuman as Trump currently occupying the lead as the Republican frontrunner, I am left with no choice but to conclude that the U.S. general public has taken leave of its senses and sanity. Of course, the first time Bush was elected was bad enough, but the second pretty much confirmed it back then.
LOOKING TOWARD A BRIGHTER FUTURE
Samosa’s Prison Complex – This sculpture depicts a prisoner helping up a fellow inmate who has been injured. In the background is one of Samosa’s infamous prisons.
Samosa Tank – Captured by the Sandinistas.
No Mas Samosas – The overthrow of Samosa is celebrated in this mosaic. See if you can spot John Lennon, Simón Bolivar, and Martin Luther King.
Gigantona – Winner of a yearly contest.
Turtles in an art museum.
A MYTHIC FIGURE – I forget the name of this gruesome creature, but she failed to know a man in her lifetime due to her unsightly countenance. To seek revenge after death, she lured men to their doom with her unwieldy and pendulous breasts, inevitably suffocating them with said protuberances. Most of the figures in the museum were cheesy and poorly executed, but this one was kind of disturbing.
This is the place you get to sandboard down a goddamn volcano!!!
PELTIER AND JOYCE
Here’s a little memorial to the people who slid into the active volcano on the hour hike up. Just kidding.
SHOWING OFF MY REI GEAR
JOYCE GETTING SERIOUS AIR
Minor burbling on the lower right. Some idiots were down there mucking about earlier.
Some nice Brits who followed us down on foot.
READY TO GET MY ASHES HAULED
A SLOW START
But I got ripping at the end and finished up with a massive amount of volcanic grit in my mouth, beard, and shoes. Poor Joyce had a hell of a time getting it out of her hair.
One off the bucket list that I didn’t even know was there.
ANOTHER GOOD DAY
MASAYA – ANOTHER CRATER ANOTHER DAY
Looks like a spot “Jabba the Hutt” from Star Wars might use to dispose of his enemies.
BATIDO’S – Another juicy stop on Peltier’s Magical Mystery Tour.
BAHOO – A famous Nica family dish only available in three restaurants. This was in a small stand in a market, but it was seriously delicious. Flavorful meat with two types of plantains and sour shredded cabbage. Super delicious.
NICARAGUAN POTTERY – This is one of the best guys for pottery. He’s been invited to Europe to show his pieces. The prices are amazing for the quality.
GRANADA – This is where we part company with Peltier. He dropped us off after helping us find more than suitable lodging. This guy made Nicaragua a no brainer.
A quick ride around this colonial town.
The old train depot.
Backpacker’s Inn – Don’t let the name fool you. This is a converted luxury hacienda with 20-foot ceilings in the enormous dorm rooms. No bunk beds and super comfortable. They also offer private rooms with a dip pool just outside your door.
SKYE – My Canadian companion on this ill-fated leg of my trip.
Ometepe Island – One of the largest islands in the world on an enormous freshwater lake. Lake Nicaragua is a hundred miles long.
The view from Hacienda Merida – So far so good, but in the middle of nowhere.
HACIENDA MERIDA – After reading their welcome sign and moving the letter I in their name I was able to decrypt the underlying message. I determined that the place’s true name is Hacienda Mierda or for those of you unfamiliar with the Spanish vernacular, SHIT HOUSE. Rule #1 don’t stay anywhere without checking with Peltier.
To make matters worse, this feces festooned menu of multi-species bowel movements presides over the property’s dining area offering it’s guests a daily smorgasbord of e-coli garnished delights from which one can choose to lose one’s appetite at any given meal.
MORE FREE APPETIZERS – If the craptastic sign didn’t put you off your meal then maybe one of these supposed Ecobottles will turn your stomach. I can’t really identify anything other than the cigarette butts in this container, but I don’t want to see it while I eat.
MORE DELIGHTFUL DECORATIONS TO WHET YOUR APPETITE
This row of sealed waste is right in front of where you order your food and adjacent to the dining room. Now the owner has some sort of scheme where he’s trying to sell these bottles of refuse so he can build houses out of it. No worries just don’t stack it where we eat. And if the place is awash in feces, how about having some antibacterial lotion handy instead of all of these reminders of how unsanitary everything is.
ECO LOUNGE – Just what I want to sit on – A filthy tire – Wonder if they offer a massage with recycled motor oil.
SAVING ENERGY – Leaving uncoiled hoses to snake their way around the grounds.
An unused wheelbarrow blocks a path giving the impression that they are on the job, but the leaves remain untouched in keeping with their energy-saving principles.
On the right is my door. On the left is a shitload of ugly old mattresses. That’s classy. I don’t know what happened to me in that place, but I didn’t wake up until the next evening at which point I barely was able to consume food. Same problem when I woke up the next morning.
If that wasn’t bad enough, the jug-eared putz who owns the place comes over and shoves one of his bottles of trash in my face and asks me for money for the thing. I simply told him I had no intention of paying him for grossing me out no matter how altruistic his intentions. He went on to lay his eco-trip on me about how this is everybody’s problem. Yadda, yadda, yadda. Man, that guy was lucky I was ill. Even though my sink was fitted with a toggle style water saver the shower’s hardware was shot, and when you shut it off it took five minutes to shut off. Oh, the hypocrisy! On the way to the ferry, the chatty Cathy never shut up and had the poor taste to bring up Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky mishap in a far less tasteful manner than I am referencing here.
I couldn’t get off that island quick enough which is a shame, because I am sure there are nice places to stay where you don’t have to place your used toilet paper in a wastebasket. I suppose it did lend credence to my Hacienda Mierda moniker. It also lent a nice authentic aroma to the room. Yuck! I went to summer camp for three years where it was outhouses all summer long, but at least you didn’t have to smell them in your cabin. I’m not squeamish, but Hacienda Mierda just grossed me out completely. And to that babbling, sanctimonious, Cuban transplant…..EAT SHIT.
Comé mierda, Baby!
San Juan Del Sur
COCO AZUL – Cute friendly place with a fantastic free breakfast. They are the first place that I have encountered in Central America that knows how to make scrambled eggs. All the other places make something that resembles over-salted chopped up fried eggs and the result is virtually inedible.
Room For Six – One Occupant – Me
DELICIOUS TORTILLA SOUP – After four days my appetite returned, and I consumed this food without having to make an effort. After blogging for an hour, I ordered some creamy chicken penne pasta. It should come as little surprise that El Barrio Cafe was a recommendation from Peltier, the purveyor of enjoyment in Nicaragua.
In the evening I hit a place with a good bar band, and enjoyed some classic American rock, Ramones included. Hallelujah, I’m back!
A pretty and quiet beach town during the day, but a bit of a madhouse at night. On the way back from dinner last night, I was accosted by a urine soaked, transvestite prostitute that I had seen earlier in the day sleeping one off in the shade. He/she dug into my shirt pocket until I managed to break free. Needed a shave too. Gross! The good restaurants here are overpriced. Whatever beauty this place holds is somewhat offset by its seedy underbelly. I guess it’s a great place if you’re drunk. Looking forward to Costa Rica.
At this rate, I’ll be in Europe by July.