I´ve made the official leap from central america and am now in south america. i left nicaragua with very mixed feelings. granada, nicaragua was an amazing place to spend a couple months. even though i was ready to move on after working 6 weeks at bearded monkey and volunteering with La Esperanza, i do miss everything about that place...
my last night of work was St. Patty´s Day. didn´t do much work really, but it sure was fun! from work went to a party at some friends at la esperanza. always good times... it was a fantastic way to say goodbyes and get ready to move on.
Garreth and i left granada and headed back to Ometepe. Stayed at Santa Domingo on the beach and just relaxed. getting around the island can be challenging. we attempted to walk to merida. due to our usual late start, we basically walked for a few hours in the heat before being forced to jump on the last bus back to Santo Domingo without actually reaching merida. it was a hot dusty walk, but we did get to see a local farmer, 'transporting a bull'. yeah that was cool. he had a rope tied to the bulls head and basically it would start running off the road or just stop in the middle of the road. so the farmer would 'help encourage the bull to get going' and it would run full speed down the hill that we were walking up. we decided to give the bull plenty of room and just watched the show.
there are plenty of fincas (farms) on ometpe. we had the great pleasure of finding some lively english guys (whom we met in granada) on finca benito, just a stroll downhill, through the woods, over, under and around the barbed wire fence from finca magdelana. we managed to pick a great day to show up. they had just killed a pelibuey (looks like a goat, but is anatomically a sheep) that morning and were preparing a feast with plenty for all that night. they quickly put us to work with the important task of walking to the nearest town (about 30 minutes each way) with empty packs to bring beer for the festivities. it was a great night sharing tales and eating a tasty meal around the campfire.
i´ve now tried pelibuey meat as well as heart, liver and kidneys -heart is best, ants --they DO taste like carrots and iguana...well i´m not sure what else because many menus have carne de rez --not sure what kind meat it is exactly...
Ometepe was one of the few places i visited twice. both times were great, but once you get on the island it´s difficult to leave. literally. the first time there was no early bus to the boat, so i waited by the side of a dirt road for 3 hours. first the locals told me the bus was running late adn then the story changed to it will come in maybe an hour. finally a packed little minivanish bus came. it was packed full and i think the locals didn´t expect me to get on. yeah right! i hopped on that thing and endured the bumpy uncomfortable ride for all it was worth. until they told me to get off in the middle of nowhere for another bus that i had no idea was coming or not. luckily a real bus(colorfully painted school bus) came and i was able to get to myogalpa and back to mainland.
the second attempt to leave was similar. no bus, so we started walking to the next town. after walking forever (ok maybe 45 minutes to an hour) in the heat of the day, a truck stopped and let us hop in back. SWEET! unfortunately it wasn´t that easy. it seems the locals have an ongoing disareement with the municipality about boats leaving the island or something to that effect. so they had blocked the roads. after a couple hours in the back of this truck, driving on the beach, up a 'path' of huge bolders, taking back roads, meeting yet another road block we finally made it, but of course had missed the boat and had to wait a couple hours for the next one. i must admit i was really impressed with both the locals demanding to be heard and the family that would not give up on finding an alternate route. i think if americans were more involved in the world around them, things could change dramatically. anyway it was great to see the entire island.
made my way back through costa rica. spent a couple glorious days in san jose before heading for panama, alone again. wasn´t too eager about panama...other than seeing the panama canal (which is truely amazing), and finding a boat to colombia i didn´t have many expectations. i was pleasantly surprised. bocas del torro was great for some partying (great happy hour) and beaches. panama city was amazing. people compare it to miami with all the high rises next to the ocean. stayed at this hostal that was on the 8th floor in the middle of the city with an amazing view & met lots of great people. i ended up travelling to colombia with a couple people i met in panama. phillip is from austria and was determined to get a job on a boat to colombia. i glued myself to his side and we went to numerous yatch clubs trying to find captains to take us aboard. no luck. probabaly a blessing in disguise. heard lots of stories about boats that were packed with too many people, not enough food for the voyage, being seasick for 5 days straight and even a couple guys who decided to get off the boat after the first day because it was too dangerous to sail. not to mention the very real threat of pirates, my not so great swimming skills, and non interest in hiking the darien gap, flying was a better option.
i ended up flying and travelling with a girl from switzerland named sabine, whom i´ve been travelling with for the last few weeks. looking down from the airplane window, seeing miles of endless ocean peppered with tiny white dots (i assume those were boats) i must admit i was happy to be flying and not tossed around like a ragdoll.
walking in the main plaza in cartegena, colombia a guy walks by saying -- coca? cocaine? cocaine! COCAINE! yep must be in colombia. after talking to many other travellers i decided to add colombia to my list of places to visit. everyone insisted that it´s not as dangerous as all the news reports in the states would have you believe...and i agree. so far colombia has been beautiful and most people are very friendly. of course there are plenty of people (especially travellers) that hate americans and that can be uncomfortable, but i don´t have to be everyone´s friend so that´s fine.
arriving into cartegena, colombia was so easy. people were friendly and things were farily simple. the old town is beautiful with colonial buildings. it´s enclosed in a wall with cannons on the outer edges to protect the city back in the day. tons of public art and great music and dancing clubs. the street food is amazing. i LOVE arapas. a corn like dough fried and stuffed with cheese, only 1 mil - about 85 cents (i think i had 2 everyday i was there). i was there during semana santa (holy week, easter) and met so many colombians ready to party. they know how to party. use your imagination. colombia. crazy good times.
made my way to taganga, mellow fishing village with an amazing number of israeli travellers, (menus are in spanish and hebrew). from there headed north to park tyronna. after an hour bus ride a 2 hour hike, you find some of the most beautiful beaches in colombia. slept in a hammock under the stars, truely peaceful...well except for the falling coconuts. seriously no joke. apparently people (mainly tourists) are killed by falling coconuts. makes you think twice about where to hang your hammock.
just got to medallin, colombia yesterday morning after a 16 hour night bus ride...shit man south america is HUGE. i´ll have to get used to long ass bus rides and stock up on the valium. cool town with a few colleges and the only metro in colombia. started raining last night and still coming down today, so it´s a good day to do the email thing. plan on exploring the city tomorrow and looking in to paragliding here too. fairly inexpensive. will be here for a couple/few days before heading to bogota and south towards ecuador. finally replaced my camera, now i just need a memeory card and hope to post new pic soon. ciao