Kelly (my other Canadian friend, passport intact) and I arrived in Granada. We checked into a cute little new hostel called Entre Amigos, then explored Granada. We also got some drinks at an interesting cafe called Sonrisas, where a large proportion of the staff are deaf. It took me a while to figure this out, embarrassingly, and there were helpful sign language signs all over the place. We did the city tour, including a climb up one of the cathedrals, where we got some nice pictures.

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We walked down to the water, got a coconut from the people with the two parakeets, and walked back, where we scouted out a dinner place. Since I had missed celebrating St. Patrick’s Day (climbing Momotombo), Kelly and I went to an Irish restaurant in Granada called O’Shea’s, where we ate shepherd’s pie (with cheese on top!!), stew, and Guiness. It was a good night, with a beautiful sunset.

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I witnessed a fascinating Semana Santa ritual that night – a procession of Jesus and the Virgin Mary through the streets. It was very strange to my Canadian eyes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wqVV87avxk&feature=youtu.be

The next day, we left early. The plan was to go home quickly to drop Kelly’s delicious cacao liquor from Granada’s chocolate museum off at my house, then catch a bus from UCA to Leon. It was a crazy day. We left Granada, arrived in Managua, got to my house, dropped off dirty clothes and alcohol, then went right back out the door after 5 minutes and went to Leon. We had to wait at UCA for a while because (Semana Santa) so many people were travelling. We got to Leon in good time though; just enough time to revisit Pan y Paz and get to Tierra Tours for our trip to Cerro Negro. That’s right, I finally did it. Kelly convinced me to go volcano boarding. With Tierra, we were only a group of about 8 people, all foreigners. The climb up only took about 45 minutes, but the wind was insane, and we were carrying boards, which kept getting caught in the wind. If we weren’t careful, we could have been blown off the side of the volcano. It looked a lot like Momotombo – black and suphury.

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At the top, we took lots of pictures and tried to stay on our feet. Then we suited up (full body suits with knee pads, elbow pads, and goggles). I happened to be closest to the edge, so I went first. I put my board down, sat on it, and… nothing happened. I had to really push to get going, and even then, I must have been doing something wrong because I made my way slowly down that volcano. It was cool though. When I got to the bottom, I watched everyone else come down – much faster than I had. Apparently it’s all about how you angle the front of the board. Some of the people coming down clocked in at 70kph! I think I maybe managed 25.

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That same day, we went all the way back to Managua in a shuttle from Tierra. Pricey (about $20 each, I think), but a great way to get home. It’s money that we would have spent on a hostel, anyway. We were dropped off at Galerias, the local swanky mall, where we got some food (Rosti Pollos), and a VIP movie (G.I. Joe), which entertained me far more than I had anticipated.

The next morning we went back to Granada and relatively promptly caught a shuttle to Poste Rojo – a treehouse hostel on the side of Mombacho. We really did spend a lot of time in buses…

Note on the shuttle: it was a truck with a cage over the bed so it could carry 20 20-somethings up a volcano.

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Note on my friend Kelly: a 5’9”-ish blonde Dutch woman who makes me look like a local. Sometimes Kelly felt uncomfortable with how much she stood out. On one of the buses there were two young boys sitting in front of us who would occasionally turn around to stare at our freakish chela faces. It was a little disconcerting, but also a little cute.

Poste Rojo is remote, quaint, and relaxing. There are more hammocks than chairs. People are there to party because there’s not much else to do there, so Kelly and I only stayed one night. While there, we managed to find the canopy tour zip line ($27 per person, but it consists of several kilometers of cable, and we had fun with the guides who got us to zip along with our arms outstretched – it feels like flying – and upside down – it feels really uncomfortable). We also saw howler monkeys in a tree when we got back to the bottom. The walk there from Poste Rojo was a couple kilometers, but it was a nice walk, and on the way back we a group of locals playing football in a very dusty field.

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Also staying at Poste Rojo was a group of young expats who live in Leon. We chatted that night, and collectively decided that we wanted to find this place called Aguas Agrias the next day. It took all morning to figure that one out. The hostel advertised it, but nobody seemed to know anything about it. We ended up asking the guard, who arranged for a couple of caponera drivers to take the 8 of us. We got cozy, 4 to a caponera, and took off. It took about an hour to get there, on rough dirt roads, but with great views of Mombacho along the way.

The Aguas Agrias itself was gorgeous. We were so glad we had put the effort into getting there. It’s clearly not a tourist hotspot, but it was crawling with locals. Since it was Semana Santa, I would guess that it’s not normally as crowded as it was that day. It’s a spring-fed little river at the base of Mombacho that’s an oasis of green in the middle of the dry season in Nicaragua. It was lush and watery and very paradisiacal. We swam, read, walked around, and took pictures.

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We rallied our caponera drivers and headed back towards Poste Rojo. Because it was Semana Santa, the buses weren´t running as frequently, as to get back to Granada, Kelly and I had resloved to hitch a ride or hope for a bus. Instead, our caponera took as all the way. We were probably sitting in that thing for about an hour and a half. When we got to Granada, we had difficulty finding a hostel. Semana Santa strikes again. We checked out about 4 different hostels before we finally found one that only had two beds available. We snatched them up but quickly offered one of the beds to another girl who arrived minutes after we did. That night we got pizza and went straight to bed. The hostel we stayed at was called Casita, and despite being lucky to have a bed, I wouldn´t stay there again. Every hostel hosts the occasional inappropriately aged hostel visitor, but this one had more than its fair share, and it´s not a comfortable atmosphere. We only stayed one night so it was okay.

TBC