Sunday 15th December
Motorbike ride to nature encounters.
After yesterday’s little cycle ride we wanted to see more of the island but decided the best way to achieve this was by hiring a motorbike to ride.
The island has a road that goes all the around it in a figure of eight around both volcanoes but only the east side of the main volcano is sealed. We headed around on the sealed road to a town called Altagracia, we thought this town may be bigger but it wasn’t. We only had a short wander around the main plaza and I managed a second breakfast of chicken and chips.
Ginette – Gary really has got hollow legs, we rarely go more than 2 hours before he declares he is hungry.
We headed to a waterfall walk another couple had told us about, this was on the east side of the second volcano and we had about 10 miles of bumpy dirt road to contend with.
The waterfall walk to Salto San Ramon was a bit of a climb which translates to a 3 hour round trip some of which was over a rocky stream bed but also through a rainforest. The waterfall was very high and up a steep cliff so it made for an awesome sight. To reward our effort there was a small shallow pool to cool down in.
The nature on the walk was the best bit. We had 4 or 5 encounters with Monkeys of different breed and we could hear a howler monkey in the forest. The bird we have been trying to take photos of around the island put a photo shoot on for us and we know now it’s called White crested Magpie Jay. We also watched an army of ants on the move, there was so many you could hear them.
We had our packed lunch at the lakeside on a jetty watching a young teenage boy heard his few cattle down for a drink on his horse.
To break the journey up going back we had a break on a hilltop cafe with views over the lake and the second volcano. And finally we stopped at Punta Jesus Maria again, the black sandy outcrop to watch the sunset.
Monday 16th December
A trip to the seaside.
We grabbed the ferry back to the mainland and while in the port town stopped at a hotel offering parking to check whether they would keep our cycles for three weeks while we travel back to Mexico which they can.
We had a 10 mile ride down the Pam American highway then another 10 miles across to the coastal town of San Juan De Sol. I was hungry and we found a shop on route and devoured a pack of biscuits.
Ginette wasn’t feeling well so took to bed for a rest, I had a spot of sunbathing and sea dips in this dead calm horseshoe bay. I was busy reading and only just noticed the tide lapping at my feet in time, by now the local bar had some beers with my name on them.
Ginette – I had another kidney/urinary infection, not pleasant but nothing serious. Once the drugs had kicked in I was able to join Gary for a beer to watch the sunset.
Tuesday 17th December
Exercise by the sea.
Ginette was not well last night, she has a kidney infection so after breakfast went back to bed.
I found a fish market and having purchased some prawns left them marinating in chilli and garlic.
I went for a walk up a hill to the left of the beach, not vert pretty at first as I had to walk past some very poor homes with barking dogs on leads lots of rubbish and smelly waste water running down the mud track. The track was trodden but you could tell it was not a popular walk. There were some view good viewing points of the bays at the top but the paths were overgrown and I had to walk along with my anti spider web branch in front of me and was on constant snake look out.
I met Ginette on the beach were she was recuperating.
After lunch restless me had another trip, this time I ran to the right side of the beach up to a large Christ statue, the hill climb was pretty steep and my run was not much faster than a walk but I made it to the top. There was a charge to go in to the viewing platform at the Christ statue and I nearly didn’t bother but after the effort getting up the hill I paid the fee. There were some good views across the bay and some information about the statue but all in Spanish.
I finished the run with a work out and stretching session on the beach, normally I wouldn’t do this in such a public place but there was hardly anyone around and one of the ladies nearby was already into her own routine. It’s great to be able to run into a warm sea to wash the sweat off.
Ginette – It can be hard work having a puppy for a husband, I felt exhausted and washed out and he was boucing all over the place. At least he was a good boy and took himself off for some exercise. I managed to finish my book in piece.
Wednesday 19th December
Up at 5.30 to ensure we caught the bus, as it happens we were hustled onto a bus as soon as we approached the bus stop getting on in a rush only for the bus to stop in another street and wait till 7am to set off. This bus took us straight to Managua so all good.
We took a taxi the 4 miles across the city to our next bus station (we had a big bag which wasn’t easy to carry).
We arrived at the bus stop 30 minutes before it was due to leave but unfortunately the bus was full. We enquired whether they had spaces for the following day and was informed there were no free spaces until the 24th Dec. We were directed to another bus service but on arrival we found that we full too, luckily we had an English teacher from Salvador also searching for a bus and he took us to another bus station in his pickup. Fortunately this bus had seats but would not be leaving until 2am YUK
We finally found a hotel to book into after haggling them down from 33 to 25 dollars.
Ginette – this is one of the jobs I find really difficult, especially as I know Gary feels uncomfortable with the process. On this occasion he was patient even though he was starting to feel Hangry. On this occasion I knew there was a hotel within a few miles at 20 dollars so there was no way I was paying $33.
Walking around the city was far better than our last visit. We wandered down a Main Street with about a mile of scattered nativity scenes of quite elaborate designs, took a stroll around plaza de revolution where there are Christmas decorations and 2020 new year signs. We found a park with a whole range of family entertainment such a merry go rounds, boating lakes, roller skating, baseball pitches, basketball areas and an assortment of play areas. A fantastic open space for the families to come and play.
We stayed around the park and Royal palace Plaza people watching, it was clear that a show was being prepared for in an open auditorium. The show included lots of different dance groups of various ages, we sat for an hour watching the dancing.
Once it got dark we walked back up the main road past all the nativity displays which got us into the Christmas spirit with all the lights and carol songs, it was almost as if each display was competing for the most attention.
We found a restaurant on this strip which had a live band and the guests were already up and dancing (it was only 6pm, but felt much later), after a beer and a rum (Rum was 50p beer was 87p) we joined in on the dance floor. Watching the locals dance was entertaining as all ages were up to very modern fast beat music (the type that usually gets rid of us old farts and only the youngsters stay on the dance floor) the men and women really know how to do the bum wiggle, some of the bigger ladies bum movements were quite hypnotising.
Ginette – It was a really enjoyable day, a big apology to El Salvador it has far more to offer than we previously thought.
Thursday 19th December
LONG travel day.
Up at 00.40 am and a walk to the bus station for the 01.30 check in for the 2am bus to San Salvador.
We reached the first border between Nicaragua and Honduras and had a queue to contend with. Along with our 52 seater there was also another coach, when we reached the desk we were lucky to have Hector (El Salvadorian teacher we had met at the bus station) around to help smooth over the language issues, once through the exit process at Nicaragua we then had to board the coach to travel the 100 yards to the Honduras border to repeat the queuing.
It turns out the Friday before Christmas weekend is a bad day to travel as every man and his dog was going home for Christmas so the checkpoints and roads were very busy.
Another hour or so later in Honduras the bus broke down, we sat by the side of the road for a couple of hours for a mechanic to bring along a new fan belt.
Later in the journey we pulled into a police checkpoint and had to empty all the hold luggage so they could check our baggage, this didn’t take too long and the search was a bit half hearted.
Reaching the Honduras El Salvador border we had an epic Alton towers type queue snaking inside the immigration office and was there well over an hour.
Back on the coach to El Salvador this time the Salvadorian police boarded the bus and collected our passports so the delay was not so long.
Later we were pulled over by the police again and the coach was searched by sniffer drug dogs.
Ginette – We finally arrived in San Salvador at 9pm, 6 hours later than scheduled, exhausted but chilled. We tried the first hostel, the only bed available was a double in the dorm room. I wasn’t keen on this, I imagined a double bed in the middle of the dorm with no privacy. So I dragged Gary across the road to look at another hotel this was priced at $60 a room 3 times the price of the double bed in the dorm so we returned to the hostel tail between our legs and booked the dorm room. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I feared, the bed had a curtain so we had a little privacy and the hostel sold much needed beer.
Saturday 21st December
A flight to Mexico City.
We slept well in the hostel, it was a small dorm room but the built in bunk beds had curtains across them so we had a little privacy. There was a man snoring a little louder than Ginette, when I mentioned this to her in the morning she said if she’d have known she would have tried harder, not that she’s competitive!
We did a dummy run of the bus journey we would need to take to reach the bus station for getting to the airport, it was near the historic centre so was not out of the way. The local bus cost peanuts but was really packed.
The bus dropped us off at the Center into the throng of a very busy market which looked as if it had expanded into side streets and what should be plazas, it was extremely busy with Christmas shoppers. We realised that this journey would not be possible with our bags and that we would need to get a taxi.
The market experience was unexpected but a good experience, some of the stall owners actually grabbed our wrists while talking and trying to get us to look at their goods. Ginette wasn’t keen on this but it was harmless and when they realised you couldn’t understand them they had a good joke with their friends with giggles.
We broke out of the mayhem in front of the Palace and cathedral, a pretty area with Christmas decorations all around.
Back at the hostel to collect our bags we decided to see how much a taxi would charge to get us to the bus, fortunately it was only $8, not cheap but it would save us the hassle of navigating the market.
The bus was packed and we had to stand for the 45 minute journey, we were the only Europeans and the only two to actually get off at the airport.
Ginette – the children on the bus were mesmerised by the two of us, we are much taller than the average Central American and of course with my blond hair and Gary’s beard we make an unusual sight.
Our flight left at 9.30 pm, we had a couple of hours to kill in the airport and only just managed to get something to eat as all the shops and cafes were closing.
We booked into a hostel Zocola, we arrived at 1am by taxi as public transport stopped at midnight, first impressions were not great. There was no sign at the front of the building, our room has three steel framed singled beds and looks like something from a prison TV program. Fortunately it’s so late that Ginette has just settled into bed before the guards come around and put her in the jankers
Ginette – If I hadn’t been so tired I would have kicked off, I had booked an executive double, but apparently there were none available. It had been a long day so I put a positive head on and found some positive points :
3 beds meant we had one each and one for playing in
breakfast was included
we had a roof terrace and the hostel looked clean and was in a central area of the city
Sunday 22nd December
Mexico City and the missing link.
We used the metro, which is a great cheap way to get (at only 25p a ticket to anywhere) to the museum of Anthropology which is set in a large park. The walk through the park saw last lots of street vendors and cafes. It was a chilly affair as the temperature was around 14 degrees and we are not used to being under 30 degrees.
The Anthropology museum is huge, it is well laid out and you can move from each exhibit in a near chronological order of history. However we were both tired from the trip from Nicaragua and lack of good sleep so we got bored of trying to concentrate after 2 hours, you could easily spendall day in the museum if you had a mind to.
Something that Is becoming glaringly obvious as we visit all these ancient sites and museum is the lack of real evidence of how the human race evolved. We have the theory of evolution and the experts are still arguing about whether we are evolved from Gorrilas, Chimpanzees or Orangutans (I have researched this and there is still no agreement) I have noticed that the older (1000bc ish) clay ornaments have humans depicted with large eyes and strange body shapes and feel the scientists are ignoring the obvious answer is that an Alien life came to our planet to breed here. Hence the reason no missing link or LCA last common ancestor has been found. I am not saying evolution and survival of the strongest is not a true theory but surely looking at the ceramic evidence and sudden leap in technology with pyramid construction how can the alien concept not be considered.
Also it would go a long way to explain Ginettes uncanny ability to know who it is that’s calling before answering. Experiencing pain when Hayley is in pain and predicting things that are going to happen.
I am not saying this is what I believe, I just think that if this was the angle the scientists took then it would be really easy to make a museum with a timeline that could be made to give strong evidence to back up its theory (bac to the ancient pottery of alien figures) after all the current belief is still just a theory.
The streets and parks were full families, friends and lovers, we took a busy metro to the centre getting off near the Palace and main plaza. The plaza has a stage set up and the buildings nearby which in their own right are great looking architectural sights have been spruced up with Christmas decorations.
We wandered the central area being bumped and jostling along in the crowds. There was a lot of street entertainment round, we particularly enjoyed a street blues band and watched them play for ages along with a large crowd and two couples dancing. In each couple the man was elderly but sprightly and with great rhythm, I estimate one at 70 the other at 80 years.
We hung around till dark so we could see the main plaza lit up, as we reached the plaza the stage and stands either side was being filled with children all dressed in white. By 7 the music started in the form of a small orchestra and all the children singing and moving in time. It was lovely to watch and listen to this free show along with a huge crowd filling the plaza.
Unfortunately as we are both pretty knackered we had a little spat this evening, we don’t have them often and they are never big but all the tiredness from travelling the last few days takes it toll.
Ginette – You will be glad to know as I write this we have kissed and made up, it is Christmas after all.
We hope you all have a lovely Christmas, the next blog will not be posted until the 12th January as we are taking a break from our adventures and spending time with Hayley in Cabot San Lucas.