The exchange rate is C$28 Cordovas to $1 US Dollar, after exchanging money upon my arrival I learned that everyone in Nicaragua takes, and prefers dollars, go figure. Finding my father at the airport was pretty easy seeing that Managua has 2 baggage claim belts. He asked if I had any bags to wait for, unconscious of my backpack already loaded on my shoulders. There were more than enough taxi drivers soliciting rides, after a classic bargain exchange we were headed to Masaya for $25. We arrived at Casa Vega an hour later. The streets were quieter than I had expected for 10pm. Our room was $40/ $20 each, over priced seeing that they were having a water problem and we actually had no running water in our room.
Woke up early. After breakfast at a cute café called Kaffe Café we walked to the bus station to catch a local to Laguna de el Apoyo. The bus station was overwhelming. There were fruit and vegetable stands everywhere, mixed with trash and sporadic dust gusts. It was a challenge to see past the wild colors of the moving school busses and every time I seemed to focus my eyes something else would catch them, drawing me away from my current walking direction. After asking a few people where the bus to Laguna Apoyo was in my broken Spanish we got pointed in the right direction. We snagged seats and I couldn’t stop staring out the window, this place was so visually intruiging, most colorful and unique busses in one area I have ever seen. As we waited to depart our hang time was pretty typical, many different vendors coming on and off the bus, selling snacks I’ve never seen before, looking like odd shaped pretzels or popcorn. Lots of drinks, stored in plastic bags, sold with a straw that you simply poke through.
The bus stopped at the top of the crater. It was a 30min walk down to the lake. We spent our afternoon at a place called Laguna Beach Club. It was $6 for a day pass which included kayaks, sun chairs, standup paddle boards, ping pong and wifi. The grounds were really well kept, bathrooms extremely clean and they also have a restaurant/bar with great smoothies. We kayaked a little around the crater, with the wind it was more of a challenge than I expected. I would have been alright with staying down on the lake a night, but I only have 7 full days in Nicaragua so pops and I are on a bit of a time crunch.
We ended up hitching back to town, less than 24hrs in this country and my dad has already got me hitchhiking! We went to this cultural dance performance they have on Thursdays at the Mercado de Artesanias that night. (I’m only including it on here to warn you it’s a waste of time and money.) For sure go there during the day for the market, just stay clear of Thursday night.
After breakfast we grabbed our packs and headed to the bus station. Swung by the market so I could get a vase I had seen the day previous that I wanted. The bus from Masaya to Granada was a bit over an hour and cost a total of C$10, which equals about 35cents. SO CHEAP. I love public busses in countries like this, they’re so vibrant and interesting. There’s the driver, then theres the man that works for him that’s stationed at the back of the school bus that’s helping load and unload everything from the top of the vehicle; from metal piping, to baskets of fruit, to suitcases, to bicycles. You would think they only weigh a pound the way he lifts them to and from so effortlessly. The bus station in Granada was small in comparison to Masaya. We wandered around looking for Hostel el Momento, getting directions and still somehow missing it we arrived just in time to snag two of the last few beds they had in their dormitory. (There’s a huge poetry festival going on in the city so many hotels and hostels are booked out.) Momento is conviently located next to the center square so walking around and seeing a lot of the city before our 4pm tour pick up to do the Isletas Islands was easy. Also great thing about our hostel is its right next to Dannys Tours who have great prices for tours and private transport.
Islet Islands were…interesting. I don’t know if its maybe because I live on an island, or that most of my trips are planned around visiting islands, but I just wasn’t impressed. We, my father, a cool girl we met at the hostel named Arianna, and myself, did a 2hr sunset tour around the Islets (price of $18). The lake was grey and choppy, one would think it was the ocean if you hadn’t been told beforehand it wasn’t. There are even sharks in it. The small islands weren’t that beautiful but were owned by some of the richest families in Nicaragua. The view of the sunset from the lake though was quiet a spectical. Seeing the pinks and oranges dance above one of the 17 volcanos in the country was a sight making the tour completely worth it. Coupled with the fact that when you take the sunset tour you get to see the numerous about of different types of birds that live on and around the lake.
Had dinner at this delicious spot called Pita Pita, it was SO good. After that Arianna was game to check out a place called The Treehouse. One of my good girlfriends from LA had told me she went and had an absolute blast. We took a 9pm free shuttle from the town square out to the treehouse. It was entertaining to put it lightly. I felt like I had walked into some party where I would never catch up, also couldn’t pin point the drugs people were rolling around on. The treehouse itself was interestingly built and a great concept. The music was good too, just the crowd was a bit to overwhelming for me. People were disasters and men were on the prowl. Felt like I was in some horrible tinder dream where I couldn’t swipe left fast enough. The good news was the dibochery was entertaining enough to pass the time till the next shuttle (at midnight) went back to town. We got back to the hostel at 12:30am, asleep at 1am and then I had to wake up at 3:330am to head to the airport at 4am with pops. It’s the morning of Day 3 and I already don’t know what actual day of the week it is, travel mode in full effect.