Well, today we decided to get up nice and early again. This time at 5 am so that we could walk to the bus station by 6:30 am to catch the bus to Las Penitas, which is a little itty bitty beach town. We had arranged a tour there for the two of us to go on a lancha (think old canoe wtih a motor strapped on) tour of the mangroves on the reserve of Isla Juan Venado. The bus was better than expected when we got on…little did we know that we got on at the start, there were many people to come. Better than that, it´s still school time here in Nicaragua, so we ere quickly joined by about 50 kids in white and blue headed off to school.
We arrived at Las Penitas around 7:30am and were dropped off right in front of the hotel Barco de Oro who would provide our tour. Jonathen (pronounced hahn-a-ten) introduced himself as our guide, and speaks very little English, making Ryan´s trip a little less relaxing than mine. Haha!! Jonathen showed us where to go to pay for the entrance fee into the reserve and then we boarded the lancha and set off.
Mangroves are really cool. The grow just off the shoreline of this little swamp-like area, which is actually salt water fed from the pacific ocean. They grow on shore but they shoot off roots from their branches that grow down into the water to supply nourishment. The ones that have been growing a while are an amazingly intricate web of roots, and make for great photos, as well as a great hiding spot for random critters. On our adventure we saw several types of heron, giant white egrets, huge king fishers (by Canadian standards), iguanas (one of which fell off the tree into the water when he heard us coming, so funny!!), and the two tiniest crocodiles on the planet. One of the crocs was a baby, the other about a year old according to Jonathen. It was probably a good introduction, as later in our trip we will likely be encountering Caimans, so this way we will work our way up.
The trip in was exciting, looking for animals and snapping photos. Jonathen then docked us on a muddy stretch and let us off to walk across to the ocean. He left us alone for a romantic time on the beach – Ryan played in the waves for a bit and we took a walk to find the perfect souvenir seashell. Once the time was up, we went back to the boat and headed back toward the town of Las Penitas. We thanked Jonathen for providing a great tour (he was fantastic), and then went for a quick ¨Coka¨at a local restaurant before catching the bus back to Leon. A quick side note, if you are interested in doing this tour, don´t go with the big tour companies, it´s way cheaper to get to the town by bus (and really easy, get on at the first stop and off at the last one) and find a local, they will give you a nice long, private tour for half the price of what others charge.
On our way back to Leon I (Lindsay) began feeling a little off, but being the trooper I am, we walked back to the hostal and ditched some stuff before starting our afternoon walk of Leon to take pictures and run some errands. This didn´t last as long as expected, as off turned into sick. So we quickly made our way back to the hostal so I could crash, Ryan stayed for a while but then decided to head out for his own little adventure to take some sunset photos and find dinner for himself. (enter Ryan here…)
I headed out down our street and took some awesome light photos of the street we walked up and down most of our time in Leon. Nice for memories and looks cool. Eventually I ended up at the Catedral which is the giant church beside the park. It looked awesome in the sunset light and I took many a picture until I met Francesco.
If his story is true, I´m undecided at this moment but I liked him nonetheless, he is going to University for what I think we have translated as some sort of naturopath medicine. He works on the street shining shoes to make money for school and apparently lives on the street with no family, no shoes, and no food for the last two weeks. We chatted a bunch, I took his photo, gave him a few coins and then went on taking more photos.
I then started looking for a cool vendor in the park to get some authentic food from, easier said than done. They are all selling hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza. I ended up back at the cafe we went to the first night for a sandwich, beer, and great view of the catedral and park. The prices definetly reflect the view you get and not the food which is just ok.
While waiting for my food Francesco came over and we chatted some more in my broken spanish and his broken english which actually works ok if we know different words from each other. Eventually it was decided that I would buy him some dinner after I finished mine so that´s what I did. We went to the pool hall which apparently gives you more food for your dollar, which turned out to be true. He seemed to know the people working there fairly well which is where I felt that his story might not have been so true. Regardless he was a skinny guy with no shoes, very dirty feet and it cost me $2.50 to help him out. I hope he is actually in school and finishes, interesting guy.
I then made it back to the hostel and took care of my rather sickly in the stomach wife. Some friends we´ve met at the hostal happen to have some ciproflaxacin they got for free and weren´t needing and were near the end of their trip, so they gave it to Lindsay. It appears to be working quite well. We packed up, we attempted to do Laundry in a very small bucket, and had drinks and chatted for a few hours with the other folks we met at the hostal. Anna and Tim from Sweden and England, and Marco from Ohio. It was fun and eventually we went to the room to finish the laundry.
Thus ending our last night in Tortuga Booluda, which is an awesome hostal with tons of atmosphere and ameneties. Defintely come here, most expensive room is $26 a night and worth every penny.
Toilet paper here is weird…