Sunday, February 17, 2013

Aventura de Nicaragua Day 1: Masaya

I should mention that I had a bit of a scratch in my throat on the flights down. It incubated for a few days as just a little sniffle but has now matured into a full-blown head cold. Not the worst I've ever had, and I have no doubt that I would feel a lot worse if I was hunkered down in Madison rather than enjoying the tropical warmth here.

Seasickness update: still haven't gone anyplace since another ferry was run aground in the high winds... And it's in our way a bit. So no problems yet!

Anyhow... On our first full day in Nicaragua, Cesar (pronounced Say-zar for all you gringos out there) met us at the hotel where we had breakfast in the beautiful courtyard with avocado trees, coconut palms and parrots on display.

We then drove straight away to Volcan Masaya, a national park situated around an active volcano. So active in fact that they issue hard hats as you enter the park. An eruption a few months ago forced the closure of part of the park.

All we saw was sulfurous fumes rising from the crater. So, yeah, pretty awesome.

We hiked around for a while and looked at the adjacent dormant crater as well. Lots of interesting vegetation up there, no trees near the top since the solder from the volcano produces acid rain, only grassland plants survive. Including a grass that looked a whole lot like little bluestem.

Then we went here for lunch:

And this happened:

I the parking lot of this restaurant there was an almond tree. Turns out that there is a fruit you can eat in the outside of an almond. Like many of the fruits here, it tasted more like a veggie than a fruit, a concept that's hard for us North Americans to wrap our head around.

I don't seem to have any more photos available from that day because I whipped out my good camera. But it went something like this:

We drove through the town of Masaya and enjoyed a short walk through the town square. Then Cesar got us a variety of local fruits, and drove us up to a scenic overlook over Laguna de Apoyo and ate probably 5 kinds of fruit I've never seen before. Many we're bitter and a couple were quite astringent. I can't say I liked them all but I'm glad I tried them.

On the way to Jinotepe where Cesar lives he drove us through several small towns to give us a loo at what village life was like in Nicaragua. The shops are all very brightly painted and often covered with the logos of the products they sell. The residential building range from quite nice houses to makeshift shacks, but most are small, tidy, sturdy looking building which are mostly open to the air.

We got back to Cesar's place and reassembled our bikes. Then out to dinner at a local bar in Jinotepe. I saw a lot of new things on Wednesday, and it was quite a lot to take in.

-- Posted from the trail

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