Nicaragua

Like many Central American countries Nicaragua has an unsettling history of war, corruption and foreign intervention/exploitation from both government and corporations. The return of Daniel Ortega and his far left political tendencies appeared to be benefitting the country in many ways from what we observed.  Foreign aid money had been used extensively in improving transportation as main roads were equipped with good pavement, wide shoulders, and dedicated bus pullouts, something we hadn’t seen for some time. Schools were highly visible along the roads and filled with excited children. It would be easy to get into a debate about leftist politics here but rather we only want to express that while the country is one of the poorest in the America’s by GDP there were definite signs of improvement and these were only a few examples. This trend of leftist politics is an interesting subject as many countries in Latin America are heading this way, think Venezuela, Bolivia and of course Cuba. It should also be noted that politics aside the Nicaraguan people are extremely proud of their country and extremely insightful into the current affairs of their home. Friendly and approachable the majority would want to tell us about their country and help us find our way.

 

Our first stop for the night in Nica was in the town of Condega. This town and our experience here is the epitome of bike touring, at least for us. Far from the pages of Lonely Planet  towns like Condega don’t get the gringo traffic and simply are your typical working Nicaraguan towns. The short distances traveled by cyclists means that we often end up in these type of towns. Condega from the highway was like many other small towns we had encountered in Central America, busy, loud and dirty; filled with tire shops, oil change stations, food venders and people selling everything imaginable. However, once you turned off the main road and headed for the Plaza Central, it was completely different with a feeling of tranquility you found a well manicured park,  a charming colonial church and smiling people going about their day.

 

We aked a friendly local where we could find lodging for the night and we were directed towards a quaint, off the main path family owned hospedaje. Our room was simple, mainly just a bed, our bikes were stored in the garage which also dubbed as one of the daughters bedrooms and we shared the bathroom with the rest of the family. Staying in such close proximity with the other people in the house we got a small glimpse into their lives, the house was filled with children’s drawings, homework achievements and shelves upon shelves of books covering classic literature to current political affairs. One of the most charming features of this little family home was their beautiful roof top terrace with intricate mosaic tile work and a stunning view of the town and the nearby hills where we could sip a beer after a long day of cycling and check out the local and very different Nicaraguan bird life.

 

View from roof top

Sippin’ a beer and enjoying the Nicaraguan birds in Condega.

 

Our cycle journey in Nicaragua wasn’t an extensive journey, however this country remains one of our favorites. After Condega we started to hit more of the countries well known areas like Esteli, the colonial town of Granada, Isla de Ometepe and it’s stunning volcanoes.  In a total we spent only about 2 weeks in the country and cycled only about 4 days as much of our transportation was by boat as we crossed the massive Lago de Nicaragua which accounts for over 1/2 the distance we covered in Nicaragua all together.

 

Pictures speak louder than words of our journey here:

 

Sipping batidos in Masaya

Enjoying a mint, ginger and orange juice shake in the central square of Masaya.

 

Hiking Volcan Mombacho

Volcan Masaya

The active Volcán Masaya

 

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View of the islets on Lago Nicaragua from the back side of Volcán Mombacho near Granada.

 

Granada

The colonial town of Granada.

The colonial town of Granada, an example of some of the stunning architecture.

Isla de Ometepe

Bikes on a boat

Bikes loaded alongside plantains and other cargo on the 4 hour crossing from Granada to Isla de Ometepe.

Volcán Concepcion

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Paul (France), Marie (USA) and us at the VERY top of Volcán Concepcion, the highest volcano in Isla Ometepe and still active.

 

Decending

It was amazing how much the vegetation changed as you climbed high through the different eco-zones up to ~1,600 m (view on the way down).

 

Isla de Ometepe

View across Isla de Ometepe to the other dormant volcano.

 

Cycling Ometepe

Paul and Mike cycling along the tranquillo roads of Ometepe

 

Kayaking

A group of us kayaked from Merida (a small town in Isla de Ometepe) to the mouth of the river to do some evening bird watching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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