Saturday, March 20, 2010

Honduras_Costa Rica (Liberia, La Fortuna, Monte Verde, San Jose)

Crossing the border of Honduras into Costa Rica was really easy and a very different feeling. At the costa rica border, queues were formed in a very orderly manner. The buses awaiting at the entrance were also forming neat lines and it was air-conditioned! -- I guess in all places that has large groups of tourists coming in all the time, there is much more scrunity on the small detaisl such as queues and orders.
With my immigration pass stamped, I quickly bought a ticket from the bus ticket guy and made my way to my first stop: Liberia.
Some information about Liberia: In this town lives over 35,000 people. Liberia is the capital of the Gunacaste province. It is known for its churches architectual and its national parks but most tourists by pass liberia to go to the beaches such as Tamarindo, Playa de Coco , playa hermosa etc etc ( Europeans and US citizens love it there! )

And what greeted me along the way was the wonderful amount of greenery all around.
It reminded me of the fresh air in Munnar India. Loved that place totally.
And the wind turbines that was planted along the way created a very countryside feeling which I liked.

Finally reached the town and loved it immediately. I love all the small dainty towns- because it gives you an atmosphere of relaxation and friendliness. ( Alot of people had said I look like a guatemalan so when I was there, everyone spoke to me in spanish hahaha) Searched around for hostels and realised that most of the hostels had rooms for two, so even if it was only me, I need to pay the price of 2 which was not worth it for me. So I searched around for places with dormitories and I was so relief when I finally found one after 15 minutes of searching - thank God for small towns. Put my bag down and started roaming around-
Loving the decorations all around for an upcoming celebration

sat chilling in front of the church , appreciating its architectual and surroundings

and witnessed a wedding in procession for about an hour or two,

and looking at small children play in the playground nearby and them bouncing on a trampolin. Did I mention alot of Central American children are very beautiful and most are of mix heritage because of the US peacecorps who came, travellers who comes so often and the different roots such as Indian, Chinese etc. They are so beautiful - some with long eye lashes, some with such nice skin color, some with such sweet smiles etc etc

Felt hungry and so I decided to find the famous local food store before it closed.
Really yummy as usual. - black bean rice with huevos and banana chips

After dinner, drowsyness came over me. Decided to sleep and prepare for the travelling for the next day to Monteverde.Because the schedule for the buses were not fixed and only could be known in the morning, I made my way once I woke up at around 8am. Realised I had missed the morning bus to Monteverde and had to wait till around late evening, I tried to plan of what I could do. Searched through the guidebook and decide to go to La Fortuna for the famous Arena Volcano and the natural hot spring which was indeed an eye-opener, the place though touristy, is really nice. Imagine seeing red lava flowing out from the volcano and natural hot spring out in the forest. More will be explained later :)

Upon arrival to La Fortuna, founded the youth hostel Gringo Petes that was recommended and indeed it was quite a lovely place to stay at though the toilets are a little small.They have individual big lockers for you to safekeep your things which is very useful and good for a hostel to have since for 3/4 of the day you would not be there.

Quickly asked the hostel regarding the tour to the Volcano and the hot spring. It was arranged. It was not cheap but it was not expensive either. Most of the tours start in evening so I made my way exploring the town.
Before though, I went to find some food to satisfy my hunger.
Looks similar like the rest. But this time its black bean rice with sweet potatoes.

Spotted the misty volcano because of the rain ( wondered whether it would affect the lava flowing)and the animals that were in the fields and the murals of the town

Time flew pass and soon it was time to go back to the hostel for the tour
first we stopped by a forest and had to trek a little through a trail and come up to a shelter that had a few groups there as well. The tour guide then pointed to a pitch of darkness from afar and said that you will be able to see the lava spewing. ( I was thinking to myself, what!?!?) But after 1 hour of waiting and feeding of mosquitos, the tour guide announced that because of the rain we are unable to see the lava. I was a little disappointed because I have never seen it before. As we drove off on the way to the hot spring. Suddenly he stopped and asked us to get out of the car and bring our cameras along. I looked up and Oh my,first there was red liquid bubbling then it started flowing out with steam all around it.

The feeling of seeing that happen before your eyes is awesome. It also made me pray for the people who stays near volcano because seeing the volcano spew, I cant imagine how some town were envelop in lava when their volcano erupt, taking away their things, their lives and turning them into ashes.
Capturing the sights with our camera, we made our way to the natural hot spring ( it was like a mystery). He brought us to another forest, then told us to follow another trail, we were told to climb down some stones, and before us was a stream. Told to strip to our basics, then walk in slowly to the edge then jump in ( it was a little scary because the water was rushing along and the area where we were told to jump in, we initially did not know the depth and not knowing what was in the water.) and lucky me, I was chosen to go in first. Thank God nothing was there. The water was warm , not hot. but still the feeling of being out in the opening under warm water was still quite comforting. After half an hour, the tour guide called us up where we all quickly tried to change.

Felt really really sleepy then so I am thankful this was a tour where i could sleep and not worry because it will stop directly in front of my hostel.
La Fortuna was a good place to be for me :)

The next morning, I left for Monteverde which was famous for its adventure activities like rafting, bungee jump etc and its cloud forest. When I got to Monteverde, I went from one hostel to another but it was totally packed to the brim. ( please book beforehand, most of the hostels are fully booked for most of the period, its a tourist town)Finally I pleaded with one of the hostel lady and she helped me recheck and told me that there is a lady that will be moving out in the evening so I can put my bag in her office while I walk around then come back and move back in during the evening. However because the room was booked for the next day, I needed to find another hostel. At that moment, I was so thankful for that lady. It was the hostel with the internet and reception room upstairs and seperated from the hostel living rooms.Went to the vistor arrival center to find out about the timing to Monte Verde. Realised that they charged us by per one-way ride. It was too early in the morning to walk so I booked a one-way ride to the Santa Elena cloud forest and then decided to walk back after since I had the time and could explore the area as well.

In the morning was the first group to reach the Santa Elena cloud forest. Was wonderful being in the forest all alone. Just exploring. Following signs. My aim was to reach the highest that I could.

Some very interesting sights
1. Bleeding barks\

2. Interesting flowers/fruits

3. nice birds

With my feet filled with mud and being close to the top, I ended my trek up.

and began my walk back to the town. It was a fantastic idea. Loved the exploration
The fields,

The art shops

Finally got back to town after 2 hours plus 3 hours of walking.Rested my weary back. and quickly went to find another hostel to move in to spend the night. Found one by God's grace. The weird thing was that the room ahd 4 beds , 2 were occupied by 2 males and I was the only girl in the room. Shouldnt it be seperated? Well could not complain , was too tired. That night, the wind howled and blew and it was so cold. And they did not have hot water for the toilet on the first floor. The wind was so strong till the roofs kept rattling and the doors keep slamming shut even though we have put on the ledge and I could hear the wind howling in my ears because my bed was near the window.
The next morning, I made my way to San Jose for the plane back to Guatemala and then back to Monterrey :)

This ends my trip in Central America, I had fun and also scares travelling alone. But the experience was really well-lived. Thumbs up!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Having crossed the border from Honduras to Nicaragua, which was relatively smooth, I tried to find the bus stop that had buses to Esteli, the nearest town from the border. According to the guidebook, there was an even nearby town Gausaule but it was a very messy town that had nothing so I decided to go to Esteli instead. I enquired and was told that I had to wait for the bus at a shelter that was at the corner. After around half an hour, the bus arrived. I got onto it , thinking it would go immediately, but it stopped and waited for close to an hour, I supposed there was a bus schedule that it followed.

Nicaragua is one of the poorer countries in Latin America-By the statistics, it concludes that almost half of Nicaragua's 5.67 million people live below the poverty line, and that it has the 3rd lowest per capita income in the Western Hemisphere. Nicaragua had a long civil war during the 1980s. It was the government that was socialist. As such, the U.S. massively supported the guerrillas, and also enacted a trade embargo that strangled the country.

Arrived into Esteli, the atmosphere was very peaceful and nice.
I quickly made my way to get a room in the hostels. Thought it would be near but it wasnt too near and with my heavy bag, I was perspiring by the time I got there. Managed to get a room in a hostel that was in a house . Inside the room was a bed and a chair. Thats how basic it was. Not that I minded since I was only going to sleep there for one night.
Population: approx. 215,000 people
Location: northern zone of Nicaragua, north of León and south of Madriz
Attractions: tobacco production, waterfalls, natural reserves, archeology, arts and crafts
Spent the remaining of my day exploring the city.
Loved the murals on the walls in the streets.

Loved the food that was simple yet delicious
I found that the food in central America is very similar one way or another

The next morning I went to check out the buses that was going to Granada.My Favorite place - a must-go- in Nicaragua!
In the bus, God just reminded me how indeed he is with me along this whole journey.

And it was really interesting seeing a lady holding the chicken in her arms and coming up the bus.

What greeted me in Granada was its beautiful colonial buildings.

I loved the whole atmosphere. Its definately a good place to chill and relax.
My stomach then started to rumble, and so I quickly tried to find some food to ease the hunger. New names were on the menu that I have not seen yet, so I pointed at whatever she was making at that moment of time for another customer. Hoping that there was no pig skin ( which central americans and mexicans love) in it. The dish that I ate was vigoron - and I loved it - though it was quite expensive. It had pieces of tapioca ,shredded cabbage and sauce with lime. It was yummy.

Eating my fill, I made my way to Lake Cocibolca also known as lake Nicaragua. It is known as the 10th largest fresh water lake and I heard you can eat a number of local food there at affordable cost. Families crowded the area , some lying on their mats, some sitting on the benches with some sellers selling local snacks.
I spotted the look alike ice-kachang that was just ice with syrup. Yummy but really sweet. It was great eating and chilling there for the rest of the day with the breeze blowing at you.

The next day in the morning, decided to check out the Masaya market which was about an hour ride from Granada.
Bought some very nice symbols carved leather belts, some pouches and pencil boxes weaven items with the word Nicaragua - very worth the money. Should have bought more.

Reached back at Granada at late noon and decided to find a bus to go to Laguana de Apoyo and do some simple snorkeling as suggested by the guidebook. Went to my hostel reception to enquire about it and was told that I could catch a bus there to the bottom of the volcano crater (NOTE: Remember to check with the bus driver when is the last bus back to the town Granada) but because of the infrequency of the buses to get to the top/entrance, it was advisable to get a taxi.

Being on budget,and my love of trekking, I decided to walk up the hill and just hope that the bus would come. After walking to close to 1 hour, the bus still had not arrive. I tried to then borrow bikes from some small boys but they demanded money for the rental of the bike which was close to that of the taxi. They mentioned by walking it might take another 4 hours or so( which I kind of expected it) and that by then the sun might go down and its dangerous to go back down in the dark. I considered that but decided to continue climbing to a certain timing when I feel that it might be too dark to continue climbing. After close to 2.5 hours of climbing, I suddenly heard the chugging of engines, looked back and - ooo! the bus!- I quickly tried to wave it down. The bus stopped and I happily made my way up to the volcano crater. Upon arrival to the top, I realised I had to walk down the slopes to get to the water. Decided then that it might be too dark then to go down and get back up. So I just took pictures of the lake.
Should I have brought my belongings, I might take the risk of climbing down and then staying at the Beard Monkey or Oasis that laid just beside the lake. But I was told that needed to be pre-arranged too. The scenary there was really amazing and it felt worthwhile for all the climbing.

Along the way up, spotted the cows too.

As the night fell, I made my way back catching the last bus back to Granada.

Ate some prata alike as my dinner and rested my weary legs.

Granada marked the end of my nicaragua trip as I made my way to the border crossing of Costa Rica the next day
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...