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After some medical fun in Honduras (see this post, it will open in a new window) we prepared ourselves for a border crossing. The Honduras/Nicaragua passage was rather simple or we are finally getting the patience to navigate the systems effectively!
We crossed in the north, which allowed us to remain in the mountains. The temperatures at these elevations were better, and there were many things we wanted to see. The first thing we noticed were the wide, clean roads. Then we encountered this brief traffic delay. Although the tree had fallen across the road, the men quickly hacked away all the branches with machetes and dragged the tree into the cow pasture for further chopping. Traffic was stopped patiently for about 14 minutes. No horns, no road rage, no hassles.
The city of Ocotal was a great start as we settled in to a private yard/campground high above the city.
Then we drove on towards some hot springs for a meet up with Ian Dow and Dino in their converted ambulance. Clicking on these links will take you to stories about Ian and his ambulance. He has a great rig, a funny dog, a good appetite and the hot pools were nice also!
As it was time for some city services, we parked in Esteli. This is a beautiful little town with industry, education, culture and services. We parked in the street in front of a hostel, which gave us wifi, bathrooms and water refills. Although it wasn’t always quiet, and our bike was vandalized, we found it to be a good spot for a few days. Laundry was washed at a lavanderia around the corner. Groceries were restocked from local supermarkets and the mercado. We visited the central square with a beautiful church. We saw their community center that is located near a huge soccer stadium and includes a fancy playground, a very nice library, free wifi and a museum. Respect for a community that values the residents enough to invest in this type of infrastructure. And it was great to see residents using the library, the free wifi and maintaining the facilities! The museum was a decent little place with a varied collection of items from a variety of themes. We learned about the involvement of the locals in the Sandinista uprisings. Nicaragua, much like El Salvador, has suffered from devastating civil wars in recent history. In case you missed it, this link will open to a post about the El Salvador civil war that we learned about during our visit.
This little museum also had a great deal of information about the rock carvings in this region of the country. This little fella is the mascot of the region, and appears on many flags and signs throughout town. It was interesting to read the explanation in English.
The museum also had a funny little display of money from around the region and world. Look closely to see an American two-dollar bill on display, that made us giggle. After our city services were wrapped up, we went to explore a special rock art area in the mountains. A long, bumpy, dirt road led us to pine trees and the start of a hike. We took Zeb and walked across farm fields through a valley to a little enclave of homes. There we met the man who has made this his life work. Here is a link to a blog that will tell you more about Alberto, the artist. Click here to open this in a new window. The pictures I took do not do it justice, but the movies help give some perspective.
It was such a joy to locate this place. We were rewarded for our long, hot hike and reminded that these are the reasons we travel the way we choose to. Finding these rare treasures are the gems in our daily lives!
This had been a partial day excursion, so with the time remaining we found a nearby waterfall. A short walk into a dusty canyon revealed this beautiful paradise. Zeb quickly jumped in for a drink as we sat down to soak up the incredible rocks and plants around us. Before long he had located a stick and was in full play mode. But look at that incredible waterfall behind him. And the rock wall just dripping with ferns and bromeliads.
Just before dark we hiked back up the dusty canyon path to our campsite. This is dry season in this area, and that means things look like this almost everywhere. Even these cows were feeling the heat and dryness as they walked to their pasture for the night. This particular cow must be a mischievous escape artist. This yoke prevents her from escaping through a fence.
After a quiet night in the hills, we drove to a cigar store to check out Nicaraguan cigar information. We learned a lot during our visit, and bought some gifts for friends while we were there. They do not roll the cigars at this location, but they do make the beautiful wood boxes by hand.
The next mountain town on our list was Matagalpa. We found a street camp there, just in time because the street erupted into a giant religious procession. A couple hundred people were walking and chanting. In the middle was a giant Jesus being carried. Along the edges were alter boys collecting donations from the onlookers. It was quite a spectacle.
Then in a small village named Chaguitillo we negotiated some narrow, dirt streets in order to find a little museum focused on the rock art carvings in the area. This museum had more information than the one in Estelli. And for a small fee we could hire a guide to lead us on a lengthy hike to the rock art. But Geneva’s foot pain and the heat of the day conspired to make us settle for the exploring the museum only.
The next camping location was a real treat! We wanted to see the ruins of Leon Viejo (the old capital city of Nicaragua) and using iOverlander we found a place to park right on the edge of the lake. With Momotombo Volcano puffing away in the distance, we could watch the busy shoreline as it bustled with activity and commerce. Fishing, trading, drinking, eating- this was a bustling economic center!
This village turned out to be interesting. And we learned some cool stuff at the ruins of Leon Viejo. But this is getting too long!
There is a lot more Nicaragua to tell you about. Be patient as we search for internet service to upload these stories. Sign up below to receive these in your email. And share them with your friends who may be interested. We appreciate knowing that someone is reading and following along!