A group of us all ended up leaving Leon together and making our way south by a couple of collectivo's to Granada. The adreneline of yesterdays thrill seeking worn off, we were all feeling the effects of being on the road long term and looking forward to a few chill days doing not a whole lot.
Kylie found us this great little hostal called Entre Amigos, and for $5 a night, it was perfect! The lovely guy on the front desk pointed us towards a place called the 'Garden Cafe' which was heaven. Fresh green vegetables are pretty hard to come by in this part of the world and we all gorged ourselves on the delicious homemade, western style, salads and wraps.
During our stay a couple of other girls heard that there was a local baseball match on at the stadium, so we all decided to head down to join the locals. When we got there though, there was a game on, but it was more of few kids throwing the ball around than what we had been expecting. The security guard told us there was no match until next week but let us in to have a look around and watch the kids playing. Kristine, yesterdays speedy demon, is from Norway and since it was Norway Day back home the next day we headed to the supermarket to stock up on ingredients for a champagne breakfast. Pancakes with maple syrup, bacon, scrambled eggs with chives, salmon, toast, and champagne with strawberries - Happy Norway Day!
Happy Norway Day!
The local baseball stadium
We had hoped to visit one of the local volcanoes at night to see the lava, but due to a fire a while ago the trail had been closed so it wasn't to be. I sometimes feel guilty about stopping and doing nothing while we are away. We are in these exciting new countries and it feels a bit like if we have a 'do nothing day' that it is a day wasted. But I need to remind myself that if it was a 6 month period at home we would have down days, and we actually need them to make sure we are still refreshed and excited when we do see new things. So we spent a lovely couple of days catching up on movies, doing laundry, eating and drinking and just generally chilling out.
On our last day in Granada Ty, Paul and I headed to Lake Nicaragua for a boat ride around the isletas. There are 365 islands of volcanic origin which were formed when the Mombacho Volcanoe blew its top thousands of years ago. Most of the islands are covered with vegetation and are rich with bird life. We even managed to spot a couple of little turtles lazing on a branch. Some of Nicaragua's wealthiest families also have holiday homes on the islands so we had a good nosey as we went past. I do feel sorry for the inhabitants of one island though - a group of monkeys! The island is SO small and they are effectively marooned there as a tourist attraction by the nearby restaurant. Its not even big enough for them to be able to scavenge for food and they rely on the restaurant owners to bring food over to them.
Next stop: Costa Rica
Apart from the Copan Ruins and the Bay Islands, Honduras doesn’t have a huge amount of tourist infrastructure so we decided to head south to Nicaragua. The only long haul international bus from northern Honduras leaves at the really inconvenient time of 5.30am, meaning that unfortunately we had to spend another night in our not-so-favourite town, San Pedro Sula. This time though we stayed at La Hamaca Hostel, a huge improvement on Tamarindo Hostel.
After a stop to pick people up in the capital, Tegucigalpa, we headed to the border with Nicaragua. Ticabus sorts out all the paperwork for you when you cross an international border (sneakily charging an extra $5 for it) but even so the border crossing was a very slow, very hot, 3 hour process!
We were pretty glad to finally arrive in Leon, although it was a bit of a surprise to find that our dorm room had two week old baby kittens in one of the lockers, even if they were ridiculously cute.
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Peering over the edge
Leon is an old colonial style town. Due to the university presence it is a bit of a student town, but apart from the biggest church in Central America, doesn’t have a huge number of attractions. The main draw here is boarding on Cerro Negro, an ominous charcoal-black volcano. We were excited to find that our travel buddy Kylie, from Cuba, and another couple we had met in Semuc Champey, Christine and Nick, all arrived on the same day so we all signed up for the next afternoon. Bumping our way along the dirt road everyone in the back of the truck admitted to a few nerves about what lay ahead.
Volcanoe boarding is rated as number 2 on CNN’s thrill seeker's list and basically involves flinging yourself down the side of a volcanoe on a piece of plywood as fast as you can. While Im a bit sceptical about the order of some of the other activities on the list, this definitely deserves to be on there somewhere! After a steep 45 minute walk up the gravely path, where at one point the wind was so strong I felt like I was going to be blown off the side, we made it to the top of the volcanoe. Donning our sexy prisoner-orange jumpsuits there was time for a few photos before our safety and instructions briefing and then it was time to go! Peering over the edge it looked so steep! The descent starts on a 38 degree slope, increasing to 41 degrees as you go over a drop halfway down. Tyro, the crazy bastard, hit a top speed of 85km / hour, winning the title of fastest guy! Only 5km slower than the Guinness world record! Despite her nervousness beforehand Christine took out the title of fastest female at an awesome 75km / hour! Speedy demons! I on the other hand clocked a rather more moderate speed of 25km/ hour – although I swear I was going faster before I reached the radar gun!
Back on the truck we all toasted ourselves and the champs with some ice cold beers, before a few celebratory mojitos back at Bigfoot to finish off the day. A massive bucket list tick!
Next stop: Granada
In our sexy getup haha
Ready, set, GO!