14th September 2015

14 – 16 September: Nicaragua – exciting tours, streets and encounters

After the anger over the arduous and tiring border crossings had placed something we just decided to jump on a tour through Somoto Canyon on Monday: on approximately 7km a mixture between walking along and in the river, a lot of swimming and even 2 mandatory hearty jumps from the rock in the depth – which I of course could not miss!

So for a change again some "action" of the positive kind. Six persons squeezed into a small car, we drove to the top of the canyon and then were allowed to change clothes in the house of the local guide Ricardo. Although he - as a guide – has sort of a regular income lives in a very simple even if not poor housing. Nevertheless, his wife has spoiled us with the finest Nicaraguan coffee. On the way he told us a lot about the canyon formation, flora and fauna. Until almost the end of the canyon we were practically traveling alone, but then all of a sudden a bunch of people, families with kids and grandpas’s: I had completely forgotten that it still was a holiday and therefor they spent their day in the canyon: splashing in the knee deep water or having a ride in small boats. They even could let themselves been moved through part of the canyon on truck tires in case the real canyon tour was to adventurous for them. Almost a homely image, families having fun and relaxing; again, no “sight” again from the "dangerous" Nicaragua.

On Tuesday then some street-action was planned. We had picked us a small eco-lodge in the mountains for the night and left the Panamerican Highway and focused on main roads. What here most of the time means"unpaved". Thus, from a total of 180km we could actually  enjoy about 120km of gravel road and have of course seen much more of the country and people that way. And I even had a successful river-crossing ;-) These roads need both more time as well as more energy, but they are all worthwhile and nice to drive anyway as normally almost no traffic. Almost no motorised traffic…. but you had to be aware anytime of chicken, dogs, pigs, cows or horses running onto the street as they are here in Nicaragua mostly free, looking for their food walking on the shoulders of the street. 
The last 5km up to the eco-lodge "La Bastilla" but then not for the faint hearted and I was more than happy that we have arrived before the daily storm: "funny" bridges, always coarser gravel and larger rocks and shortly before the lodge then concreted, round stones at a slope of about 25% and several switchbacks. But the effort was worth it, the eco-lodge absolute gorgeous in the middle of the rainforest, surrounded by small areas with organically grown coffee, corn, vegetables, etc. Belonging to the eco-lodge an agricultural school, where the young people of the small villages learn the land ecologically and economically to manage. The night of exception again without truck noise, dogs barking, fireworks and loud booming music but with the sound of crickets, bird song and the roar of the storm - but what made me again a little nervous, I imagined driving down the street on a wet road! But again I was lucky and the rain stopped just before sunrise and we drive down slowly and smoothly.
In Matagalpa I was then arranged to meet Judith, a former school colleague from the canton of school hours. We had randomly met shortly before my departure at work - after we had not seen each other for over 25 years - and discovered in conversation, that she would be at the same time in Nicaragua as I do. She however, not for holiday purposes, but as a member of Interteam. The hours while chatting on the here-and-now, our common school years and so past quickly. My original plan to drive the same evening to Léon so definitely off the table I had sworn never to drive in the dark. Cool, I was able to stay with the host family, where Judith currently resides. And by accident the same evening a choir from Brandenburg had a concert in Matagalpa, we naturally exploited and so spent a really nice evening.
Tomorrow Thursday it's off at 6 going towards Léon. I will have to drive around 160km to arrive in time to Léon. Pat and I have set out on the "Volcano Boarding tour". More on this in the next post.