The Boom and Inland Nicaragua
After exploring the Bay of Fonseca Rachel, Nicola, and I had another great sail into Marina Puesta del Sol, located in Northern Nicaragua. The marina and the surrounding surf breaks of Aserradores are pretty amazing, and only in recent years has this part of Nicaragua become a tourist destination. It used to take over three hours of driving down dirt roads to access this section of coastline, but today it's only a little more than an hour from the nearest city. There are only a handful of hostels and hotels for visitors to stay at and very few places to get supplies, cash or fresh food. When we first arrived at the marina we had very little information on the area and only knew that it was a good place to stop, refuel and possibly leave the boat to do some inland travel.
The marina made our lives pretty easy by organizing to have all the officials come down to check us into the country (for a fee of course), and they offer two two pools, a nice restaurant with American prices, laundry machines (although they were quite rustic and sometimes out of order, we even found a dead bat in one), and a cruiser lounge to hang out in and work on projects. We spent our first two days there relaxing by the pool and cleaning up the boat before we actually made the walk down to the beach for a sunset stroll. That walk changed my whole opinion about the place. The marina/hotel also owns a large beachside cabana with an infinity pool overlooking the ocean, with some pretty amazing surf right out front!!! Warm weather, a long sandy beach and waves with a perfect offshore breeze, it felt like we had found paradise!
For five days we settled in as surf bums, spending the days surfing, swimming, and doing yoga in the shade of the palapa. Okay, there was some boat work thrown in there as well, but after five days we decided that since we were paying to dock the boat we better make the most of it and began making plans for some inland travel.
Traveling by boat is great, you take your whole house with you, but one of the most frustrating parts about sailing is that you’re often limited to seeing only the section of coastline that is accessible and safe to anchor. Very rarely have we had opportunities to take overnight, inland trips. Marinas can be costly and there have been very few anchorages where we’ve felt safe enough to leave Agape behind for a few days. So, when we find a cheaper marina we try and take advantage of having Agape safely tied up in a slip and get off the boat to see more of the country we are visiting and learn more about their culture .
Luckily for tourists in Central America, the public transportation system is amazing! It seems like you can pretty much catch a chicken bus, shuttle or colectivo anywhere within the country for basically pocket change. So the three of us spent some time searching the Lonely Planet guide book and Google to find a few places of interest, packed our bags and found out what time the next bus would be leaving the village.
In the morning we caught the 7am bus right out front of the marina. Five hours, three buses and a taxi ride later we arrived at the Monkey Hut, a hostel right on the shore of Lago Apoyo.
It doesn't take long to "see" a lake, and although this is a great place to relax and read a book, we really were looking for something a bit more adventurous. So, after only one night we decided to head to Lake Nicaragua and the island of Ometepe.
While researching exciting places to see, we also look for opportunities to help and give back. One of the places we found along the way to Ometepe was Hogar Belen Managua, an orphanage and school for disabled children in and around the city of Managua. On our way from from Lago Apoyo to Ometepe we would drive right through Managua, Nicaragua's capitol. We had decided to leave the lake early in the morning so that we could spend the whole day in Managua with the children there and help them in anyway that we could.
As is often the case when we reach out to these groups, their needs are generally all practical and easily attainable. Diapers, wet wipes, sanitary pads, rice, beans, cooking oil, eggs and milk were just some of the simple items that they needed. We loaded up our grocery carts with as much as we could and headed back to the home where we spent several hours sitting, holding and playing with the children there. These are always some of our favorite times and even though we try to give, we often receive so much more.
As the day drew to an end, we caught a bus from Managua to Rivas where a seemingly 100 year old, listing ferry would take us across Lake Nicaragua to Ometepe.
When the old diesel started, talking was no longer possible as the defining noise from the engine left even raised voices inaudible. As we rounded the break water and started to push our way through the fetch of the wind swept lake, I made my way up top for sunset and to hopefully protect my ears from the acoustic assault down below.
An hour or so later we found ourselves in the small town of Moyogalpa on the island of Ometepe, trying to figure out where we would spend the night. After finally finding a hostel, we dropped off our bags and headed to dinner. In the morning we got a taxi over to Santa Maria and a hostel right on the water called Caballito's Mar. This was a quiet spot away from the main tourist hub and they had horses we could ride up to a waterfall near by, it was also cheap and the nicest of the three hostels we could choose from. We were not disappointed, the food was delicious, they had beers cold and even had decent WiFi.
After three days on Ometepe and paying for almost two weeks at the marina, it was time to start thinking of heading back to Agape. Unfortunately it was also time for Nicola to be heading home and she would not be traveling back to the boat with us.
We caught the ferry back to Rivas and a taxi to Granada where we’d spend two nights organizing our busses back to Agape and Nicola’s flights back to England. We loved having her onboard and look forward to future adventures together!