A New Chapter Begins

As we left the beaches and volcanoes of Southern Nicaragua our next stop was to visit the two colonial towns of Granada and Leon. After the colonial history burst we planned to visit the highlands of Nicaragua, to a town called Esteli, and thus complete our set of the travelling hotpot of altitudes, climates and adventure. Although a very much subconscious decision at the time, in hindsight it was evident that we were searching. Searching for what, we weren’t sure; some energy, some drive to carry on, a rise out of a travelling slump that we found ourselves in, some passion and excitement at the wonderful cultures and views that we were experiencing. We had left Costa Rica a mere 8 days ago before entering the cobbled streets of Granada, but something in us had changed. We were tired. Tired both mentally and physically. The gregarious imposing churches were no longer exciting, intriguing or gregariously imposing. The lakes, volcanoes, hills, town squares, museums, local food, beers, cultures and people were either becoming common place or annoying. We didn’t have the enthusiasm or drive that we started out with, the enthusiasm or drive that bought us to these far off magical lands, the enthusiasm or drive to get excited about the next city or town. We wanted to give these amazing places more of our time and passion, but were finding it increasingly hard to find that energy as easily as waking up and being enthused about the day ahead. We were in the travelling blues! I’d been in them before, seen them before in other people, experienced them first hand; this weird phenomenon that around the three to four month mark of a long trip backpackers loose the focus and wonder what they are doing. Some of the time people come out of them; sometimes they don’t and leave early, other times people carry on in vain attempts to find the lost passion that they had when they first jumped off the initial plane into the adventure that awaited them. We knew we had to do something and spent a few nights over a few beers talking about what we personally wanted over the next 2-3 months. Our plans changed almost hourly, some purely through hypothetical conversations, some more defined and purposeful like trying to buy bus tickets to Panama, and others through research with twenty different flight prices and times open on the laptop. What did we want? We came to two conclusions. Firstly that we needed a change; be that in culture, lifestyle, or continent, and secondly that we needed an end date. We realised mentally we needed a stop point, not a vague open-ended season that we might be home, but a flight booked home, or at least to some next stage in our journey. We battled these inner demons for a wile before coming to the conclusion that travelling through Central America was coming to an end for us. With my mum and uncle arriving into Mexico for a holiday we used that as a date to meet up with them, and then devised extraordinary plans afterwards of myself flying to New Zealand then onto Vancouver to see my sister and friends respectively, with Han flying to Tel Aviv to visit a friend who had moved there previously and she hadn’t seen for a while, before both meeting back up in the UK near the end of February. Suddenly our journey to far away lands sprang back to life. We had an end point, a focus, a drive, a goal to work towards; the grass started to grew greener on our side of the fence, the sun was not a hot sweat inducing annoyance, but a warmth giving ball of energy, and we were once again motivated, intoxicated with excitement of what was to come and what had come to pass. We made future plans...

Nicaragua – The Beginning

Nicaragua, the largest of the countries in the Central American isthmuses, a very much up and coming destination for backpackers and holiday tourists, is often cited in magazines and websites as a top holiday destination to discover and explore. It was a renewed sense of adventure that we passed through customs and border control relatively hassle free, jumped on a bus after shoving off insistent taxi drivers, and made our way to San Juan Del Sur. Zipping past kilometres of wind farms that had been constructed in the last couple of years as part of the governments promise to decrease air pollution, we passed the hour happily scenery and people watching from our old American yellow school bus. We were heading North along the Pan American Highway with views of two majestic volcanoes on our right, with the Pacific ocean somewhere in the unseeing distance on our left making our way to Rivas, a city where we were to change buses for another smaller local bus to our final destination. After jumping off the bus and walking to the other bus station, we were, as usual, harassed by a host of taxi drivers who had dollar signs in their eyes as they saw another two gringo’s. We had read that often it can be cheaper if you get four of you in a taxi from Rivas to San Juan Del Sur, so we bartered and negotiated a price that we were willing to pay for two of us. Sure it was more than two bus rides would have been, but it would be direct to our hostel and a lot more convenient and comfy. Being surprised by one taxi driver who seemed considerably cheaper than everyone else, we checked, double checked and triple checked the price and destination, but he seemed to be sticking to the low monetary figure, and we figured that he just wanted the business. Move forward 5 minutes and you would have seen me leaning out of a taxi car door as it trundled along a busy street, slowly but perceptively moving into barren areas, shouting at the taxi driver to stop and causing a commotion, as Han fretted over a large knife the taxi driver had just displayed on the seat next to him. Magically and amazingly the price had just doubled as soon as we made about 100m from taxi rank that we were understandably unwilling to pay. Shouting in our pigeon Spanish that we wanted to get a bus and let us out, it was with nervous requests that the taxi driver got out and opened the boot for us to get our bags. We walked back the 300m to the bus station; we were surprisingly calm and serene about the whole situation. If we had managed to get to more desolate areas a couple of minutes further down the road, things might have been different, but opening the door and shouting whilst still in relative busy streets seemed to have sorted out the situation and 10 minutes later we were on a bus to San Juan Del Sur reading the guide books about the up-and-coming surfer beach town. Over our two nights at this black hole of a down under backpacker area; Aussies seemed to converge on the party driven “Funday Sunday” town to never escape and be lost in an eternal struggle of finding themselves on a bus out of there but not missing the next big party, we stayed at a hostel with an amazing infinity pool overlooking the ocean that was renowned for parties, as well as a downtown sandy floored type A backpacker abode. The main highlight though was the main reason that we wanted to visit the area, the Olive Ridley Turtles and their arribadas. In only 7 places over the world a phenomenon known as an arribada happens; thousands upon thousands of turtles converge on...