Today was long but very enjoyable on the whole. We started the morning by awakening nice and early to Luis and Marta´s roosters again. Who needs an alarm clock on your watch just carry a rooster around with you. We got up, made sure our stuff was packed and then headed into the main part of the house for Desayuno (breakfast). Marta had managed to make Pancakes of all things. They were great of course and had the cool tasting honey that the bees make down here. A little after breakfast we said our goodbyes to the girls of the family, thanked them for a great time and then headed out for our horseback ride!
We were going to take our bags with us on a 2.5 hour horseback ride through Miraflor and then end up at the bus stop. We did exactly that. It was a great ride that started out very misty and cloud forest like which created some awesome atmosphere that we all loved looking at. The horses were all different of course, mine being rather stubborn at first and I don´t blame it as I had two back packs on me and my camera stuff and myself. Eventually we came to an understanding and I let him walk on the edge of the road which I´m assuming was softer. I tend to do the same thing myself. We had complete freedom with our horses as it wasn´t really a trail ride so we walked, trotted (not good with a backpack or ever really) and loped when we had space and could kick the horses into it. I was on the brink of a gallop but had to stop as my bag was going one way and I was starting to go with it. Lindsay will tell you that her horse, which apparently used to be a race horse, always took off when the rest of us would start to run and she had no control over it, kinda funny.
We saw some actual farms in miraflor, lots of cabbage, some coffee, Yuca and some other assorted crops. It was a lot of fun if not a little painful with the bags after a few hours. In hindsight we would have left the bags somewhere and just walked to the bus stop with them later. We ended up taking a 3 hour ride or so and then going to a bus stop a little farther down from the original stop. Luis let us off we thanked him for the weekend and the ride and then waited for the bus at the little corner store. It was more like little corner shack on edge of a farm but it did the trick with some snacks and pop and such.
When the bus came we started our long day of bus travel to Granada. The first bus from Miraflor to Esteli was very full. I ended up standing the whole way back for about 1:30. It was a lovely view of the guy infront of me and the dirt road periodically. Once back in Esteli we said bye to our Miraflor homestay friends, exchanged emails, and started to walk down the highway to the other bus station. We never made it. One of the buses to Managua we wanted was going by and honked so we waved and it pulled over and we ran across the road and caught it. This bus was also full. We managed to get Lindsay a seat after her bag fell on a cop whom didn´t seem to want to keep his seat after that. He was not the most friendly of fellows. I was able to get one a few stops later which was good as this ride was about 2 hours.
We got off early in Tipitapa, which is good as you want to stay out of Managua in general, and waited at the stop for the bus to Masaya with another women from the bus who happened to be a spanish teacher for tourists near Granada. She didn´t speak english but was really good at speaking spanish to tourists so I actually had the best conversation I´ve had yet as it was all with words I knew. We were getting the same bus so she helped us when it arrived. This bus got way full. All seats taken two rows of two seaters on an old school bus. Then the row filled up and then the row filled up twice and then the Ayudante came down the bus to collect the fees. It is a crazy system but it seems to work.
Got off somewhere in Masaya when our teacher friend told us to. Some other locals that were also getting off showed us where to wait for the Granada bus by the gas station. (Most stops are not clearly marked like home). We then were hustled into a little VAN bus that came along. We should have waited for the bigger version, but as crazy as this was it worked. Our bags ended up on the roof and us inside. The guy working the door was hanging out as we cruised the highway shouting out the destination as we packed this 7 passenger van with at least 13 people. It was fun to watch him collect money, pass children over seats, pull bags out from magic storage places all while periodically playing with his baby that was also on board (car seats don´t exist here either, much faster system, and if you ever got in an accident all the people would break your fall!)
We made it into Granada about 5 hours later from Miraflor only to discover that we couldn´t get all the way to the bus stop. Turns out we showed up during a festival we knew nothing about. It was something along the lines of a festival for the Virgin Mary, but was horse themed and had a Rodeo on the weekend. Essentially it was their version of Stampede. There were horses everywhere parading about, a stage on every corner of the park blaring music, dancers, food vendors everywhere, ohh and all the people in Granada packed into 3 blocks. It was complete and utter chaos! We needed to walk about 5 blocks east to our hotel pick for the night. We got blocked at every turn by mass amounts of people and horses. In order to detour around we ended up walking the most awkward zig zag route that was probably about 15 – 20 blocks by the time we got there.
Fully exhausted from the day of travelling we checked into our very expensive hotel for the night, $54 which is steep here, and showered. Promptly afterwards we headed out to be part of the massive party and find some food. On the way Lindsay got blatantly groped and I caugt a pickpocket trying, poorly, to pick my pocket. That was the worst of the evening. After that we wandered the park, watched the horses everywhere, listened to the stages competing to see who could pump the bass the loudest and had dinner from some of the vendors. We ate quite heartily for $3 including some drinks. Festival food is cheapo and good.
Finally made it back to the hotel and crashed. We decided we´re moving to a hostel for the next two nights that may or may not have bed bugs. We walked into it and checked with some folks and they said they hadn´t had any problems and the place was fumigating once a week. We´ll see if that´s the case. It looks sweet though. Hostal Oasis.
More to come… in Granada.