How we had a rest in a garden under the volcano Masaya and in a hostel under the volcano Concepcion.
The road from the beach is nice, long and without traffic which is the reason why we do it whole on bicycle – there is nobody to stop. We sleep in Leon, which is one of the main attractions of the country but we visit just firemen and gas station (this happens when we “study” in advance what we should see :D).
We get a perfect hitchhike ride to Masaya but the last 10km uphill we bicycle. The village Catarina greets us with stands selling “artistic” accessories to the garden, plants and there are also many many wooden furniture makers.
After 2 hours we find our today’s place to stay – finca (garden) which we found through warmshowers (something like couchsurfing for touring cyclists). Julio takes care of it and right at the beginning he makes us a tour and explains that the banana fruits grow in 3 months, one just sucks the nuts from fresh cocoa fruit and not chews it and that the tomatos are here two times a year.
We begin to be hungry and go to explore the surrounding to find the best deal. The winner is a nice lady next door selling quesillas (tortilla filled with cheese, onion and sauerkraut with cream on the top). We also talk a little with her. Jan asks stupid question: when is cooler here? And she (maybe just with finished basic education) puts him down with “logically in the rainy season, when is less sun” …
It starts to rain so we don’t put our tent and just spread our sleeping mattresses inside of the small shed. Everything is great but the ants which are everywhere and bite, confused beetles which hit everything in full speed (especially my hair and then they get stuck there), mouse which crawls around the room, bat flying around above our heads and lots of cockroaches which live inside the latrine (they make the latrine-activity impossible). And after all it is cold in the evening and when I ask Jan to heat me, he just advices me to do 40 knee-bends and 20 push-ups. So I get what I wanted – different honeymoon :D. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and I fall asleep with a wish to get up as a Bear Grylls.
It’s morning, first rays of sun spread around, latrine inhabitants are sleeping and I think it’s quite romantic here. We spend the day washing clothes, sitting, talking (sometimes one needs to be lazy). The next morning we meet Douglas – our host – and he offers us to stay as long as we want :). In the afternoon we go for a “small” trip to the lagoon Apoyo – which turns out to be 40km with killing steep uphills. But the water is great and we cool down. We talk with volunteers from Germany who have a good point about the garbage: natural packaging (leaves, coconut shells) were replaced by plastic but nobody explained the local people that the time for degradation of these materials in nature is many times longer. With a small preparations is the night much more comfortable – beat the ants out from the sleeping bags, go to toilet during the day, buff in the hair and cap covering the face :).
After enough sleep we are ready to get to a “close” volcano. In first 30km we get lost couple times and then the locals send us on a dirt road to the crater. Half of the ones we ask say it’s just a road to a viewpoint and the other half confirm that this is the road to the top – we will see. We end at a hill from where we can admire the volcano in a distance and a nice hilly surrounding. We spend another while driving on other dirt roads and looking for the correct path to the volcano but without success. We return to the paved road but this 2 hour offroad has been the nicest riding in nature during our travelling.
The road goes down and we can enjoy the panoramic view – the country around Masaya is amazing. We buy a pineapple juice which needs to be mixed with water and sugar before drinking.
We get to the gate of the park around 4pm so there is only 1 hour left to go to the crater and back – 5km of steep uphill with parts where we need to zig-zag the road. At the top we get applause from visitors in a car and because Jan is a little behind me, they add “you are great, but she won” :). Steam rises from the crater and its depth and steepness totally amazes us – this is the first time we see a real active hole into the earth. It’s not possible to climb up to the cross above the crater because of safety so we don’t spend much time there and enjoy the fast downhill. We still have 30km to do and 10 from that is uphill, only 1.5 hours of daylight left, my front wheel is probably punctured and deflates slowly, Jan has a broken spoke and the storm clouds are coming – we will see if our angels will help us also this time!
We arrive to the finca almost in dark night, with the first rain drops and a lightning is illuminating the whole sky. We are totally destroyed – and this should be a rest! :D. The last surprise is the pineapple juice which is actually really fermented and even after 2liters of water and a pound of sugar still not drinkable.
We repair the bicycles in the morning, load the panniers, thank for everything and with “a lot of energy” we start pedaling towards Ometepe island in the largest lake in Nicaragua. The road is for 2 days and the first night we sleep at the firemen station in Rivas where the old captain is questioning us but we don’t understand 90% of what he’s saying :). We also meet another cyclist – John from USA – who travels just with a small backpack (don’t we have too much stuff?!)
The ferry takes us to a town called Myogalpa. We check probably all the hotels there and finally decide for one and Jan can go directly to bed (actually he spends more time in the toilet). With a fever and diarrhea he gets some antibiotics in the pharmacy (without a prescription, without seeing doctor) and even when he’s better in the next days, the Nicaraguan rum Flor de Cana will stay untouched for the next week… on the other hand we finally have a real rest.
During a small trip around the big island we enjoy the perfect views on the volcano Concepcion but after having Acatenango in fresh memory we don’t even consider to climb up. We bath in a stream, visit a reservation where we meet Maya (neighbor from Guatemala) and see monkeys which almost pee and shit on Jan, we bath in the lake and then I realize that the black sand which is all over my body isn’t the volcano dust but small crawling bugs (!) and on the way back we try nacatamale (typical food served just on weekends which is similar to Guatemalan tamale).
In the hostel are parked other two good bicycles so we know that there are 2 other cyclist around – girls from Switzerland cycle from Cancun to Costa Rica and on the way they collect money for supporting the children in Jiquilillo (the same village where we visited Dennis). Till late night we talk also with another neighbors and after so much beer it takes time to get our stuff packed the next morning. We catch the afternoon ferry which is 2-times so expensive then a smaller boats (but they don’t go today) and we sleep again at the Rivas’ firestation.
Last day of bicycling to the boarder we see a lot of wind generators and many flowering trees. Last 5 controls with showing our passports and … Costa Rica!