Today has been our very first lazy day. We slept in until 9am – unheard of!!! Actually, it was more like 8:30, then a lady phoned home while seated outside of the window to our room and proceeded to speak in what I think was Swiss-German very very loudly. Meanwhile, it was nice to get some extra sleep, and finally bearable to do so in the much more temperate climate here in Esteli.
Once we woke up, which seemed to take a lot of work this morning, we showered – which was an adventure in itself. Before coming to Nicaragua, we had read about the way they do heated showers – basically they run eletrical wiring to the shower head itself to heat the water as it comes out. Our research cautioned touching the shower head once the water is running, as most of the shower heads are metal…whose bright idea was this? We walked into our bathroom at the Hospedaje Luna only to find electrical wires running to the shower head…uh oh! Luckily we survived, the shower head here is plastic (it´s like they have learned!) and it was quite nice to get clean and not instantaneously emerge from the shower and be covered in sweat.
Before leaving the hostel for the day, we set up the next part of our trip: a homestay with a family in Miraflor. Our options were limited due to our need to leave the homestay on a Sunday and take the bus to Granada, so we ended up only having one choice of family to stay with. Meanwhile, the description of the family looks good, so we are excited. There will also be another couple staying there who we have met at our hostel, the woman is from Verdon MB!!
Miraflor plans in order, we headed out of the hostel and meandered our way to El Quechito on the recommendation of one of the hostel staff. The breakfast was very good and super cheap. Don´t have chocolate milk here, it tastes nothing like what we´re used to. I didn´t really like it. The Guayaba juice was tasty though…we´re not really sure what a Guayaba is, but it is yummy! And the place had a great mural on the back wall and some nice art work lining the walls, very authentic. Oh, and all of this tastiness and ambiance only cost us $4 USD – SWEET!!
After breakfast we wandered the streets of Esteli looking for nothing in particular. Ryan is looking for a pair of shorts to replace the ones he somehow ripped, but no such luck yet as they seem to only sell American Eagle for the same price we would pay back home. We stopped at a couple of bakery´s throughout the day to pick up a random danish and drink for about $1. We also found El Punto del Encuentro – took a little work to find but was worth it. Doesn´t look like much from the outside, but just like the Lonely Planet book said, once you wander down the corridor they have a great little set up in the back with tables in a garden area. Ryan had a litre of beer…that took a while, and I sat and sipped a margarita (apparently they don´t have Pina Colada´s right now, boo!!). The litre of beer cost $2, Ryan was pretty pleased with himself. We passed many merchants and checked out some of their stuff, but most of it was either junk or American knock offs. We have yet to find sweet hats, and decent pair of sunglasses or anything that feels particularly authentic to Nicaragua. Hopefully we will find that when we get to the market in Masaya at the end of our trip.
After our shopping was complete, we went back to the hostel to lay down for a while and regroup. Then we went back out, this time for a quick stop at the bank (p.s., banks here are crazy secure, you have to pass through a metal detector after passing at least 3 crazy armed guards, don´t mess with them!) and then caught a cab to head about 1km south of Esteli. We arrived at La Casita, a quaint restaurant/cafe and walked next door to Cecalli. Cecalli is an organization that does natural remedies, herbal products and offers cheap massages (by Canadian standards). We each had a one hour massage, and paid $15 USD each. My massage was great, Ryan´s was apparently not as good, but it was definitely relaxing and a good deal compared to what we would pay at home. Apparently there are better deals to be had, but we weren´t able to find the place our hostel advertised. Here´s one tid bit, for the lady´s out there, they have no shame here – so if you are not comfortable with the massage therapist seeing it all, cover what you would like covered – you won´t lay under a little sheet and have all the essentials hidden away. Wish I had known that in hindsight.
After we were relaxed and smothered in oils, we walked back to La Casita for a snack. The place is super popular, but beautiful. You walk into a tiny little hut, filled to the brim with people, try to get past and shout over the masses your order, and then head down the side and out another door which opens out onto an incredible tropical oasis. With tables and benches placed under roofed cabanas, and stone walking trails leading you through the botanical garden, it´s a great place to sit and chill in nature…just off the highway. Sadly, it was at this moment, in this beautiful place, that we encountered our first experience with Nicaragua´s rainy season – it poured. Now, we live in Vancouver. We know rain. This was not any ordinary rain, it was crazy hard, super fat rain drops. The locals ran for the hills pretty quickly, we had no choice but to wait it out…you see to catch a cab back to Esteli would mean walking several blocks to the hospital, not a very desireable venture in this weather. So we waited. While we waited we enjoyed some kind of cake that tasted like banana bread (so yummy!!), Ryan´s chai tea, and my juice. It was very good.
The good news was that the rain finally stopped…or at least slowed down considerably while we ate. This was great as it allowed us a few minutes to wander the property and enjoy the gardens before having to walk to the hospital before the sun set. The walk to the hospital was a bit interesting, Ryan almost got run over by a cow. That would have been a great obituary: white guy killed by cow. Haha! Just kidding, it wasn´t quite that exciting.
Once we caught a cab and got back to Esteli the rain had started again. We went to our room and changed into…get this… PANTS! Novel concept!! First time we´ve worn pants, and I wore a long sleeve shirt, since we´ve been here. The rain certainly cools things off substantially. After changing we went to find supper. We ended up walking down to Pullaso´s Ole. The guide book said it would be a fairly reasonably priced meal…it was not. It is probably the most we have and will in the future spend on food while on this trip. Meanwhile, the service was good and the food was very tasty. We are discovering though that meals here seem to lack vegetables of any kind. We´re not sure how people here survive without vegetables, but so far we have had almost none at all. Ryan´s dinner consisted of a plate full of 7 different kinds of sausage and one tortilla. Mine included a giant piece of chicken, a chorizo sausage, a small bowl of rice and corn, and garlic bread (which was really garlic melba toast).
We have now returned from dinner and are sitting in the internat cafe next door to our hostel. It is also across the street from Cafe Luz which currently (and apparently nightly) has a guy playing guitar and singing – he´s good and gets the local crowd going. We´re enjoying listening as we type this up. We also get to enjoy his seranades from the comfort of our hostel room. I think that´s what we´ll do next, as we need to pack up for our next adventure. Tomorrow morning we take a bus to Miraflor – the cloud forest, to stay with a local family and help out around their farm as well as do some hiking and sightseeing of the forest. I´m looking forward to visiting the women´s cooperative, which is a group that was started during the Contra War to unite the locals against the invading forces. They now run a group that makes handicrafts to sell in order to support local community projects, like handmade papers.
Alright, the power just went out here so I have to wrap up. There´s no power where we are headed so it may be a while before we get a chance to update this, but we´ll get to it once we hit Granada. Hasta Luego!!