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Granada, Nicaragua – a place where time stands still

February 11, 2016

parque central in granada nicaragua

We’d heard a lot of negative things about Granada (super touristy, expensive, nothing to do) but we absolutely loved it.  It had the most gorgeous colonial style architecture, colorful buildings, a huge parque central and delicious street food.  The icing on the cake was the 6 for $5 beer specials every afternoon.  We spent most of our time wandering the streets and eating all the fresh fruit and sampling new kinds of cuisine (they have cheese stuffed tortillas here!).

granada nicaragua travel blog

Vigorón – an iconic dish of Nicaragua and one that we loved. It felt like a perfect fusion of Samoan and Laotian cusine to me – the yuca reminded me of taro, the sweet and sour dressing was very similar to the one used in papaya salad – and pork crackling is used in both countries cuisines. Yum!!!!

pupusas in granada nicaragua

Pupusas – technically an El Salvadorean dish but we never had a chance to eat any there. Stuffed with ham and cheese, or chicken and cheese they were delicious!

the traveling anthropologist

the traveling anthropologist

the traveling anthropologist

granada travel blog

nicaragua granada travel blog

granada nicaragua travel blog

After the six beers for $5 special we ordered a flor de caña because I wanted to taste the local rum
(it just tastes like rum).

One day we went for an adventure to Mombacho volcano a little out of the city.  As we started walking up the 5km track countless trucks full of tourists passed us and we laughed with each other about how lazy they were.  A few minutes later when we were leaning forward to trudge up the nearly vertical hills we were no longer laughing.  By halfway the only thing stopping us from jumping on one of the trucks ourselves was that it would require energy and we didn’t have any – we were concentrating too hard on lunging one foot in front of the other to ensure we didn’t topple backwards down the mountain.  I think the only thing that actually got us to the top was the sound of howler monkeys in the distance (which we mistook for jaguars and found new energy in the face of certain death).  I should clarify when I say ‘we’ I mean myself and a girl from our hostel who came with us.  Guy breezed on up cracking jokes and quietly enjoying our pain.

After about three hours we reached the crater lookout expecting to find a breathtaking view that would make the trembling in our legs all worth it.  Instead we found this.

mombacho granada nicaragua

It was at least cool and refreshing. It was so misty it was really quite beautiful, I imagined that we were in the highlands of Scotland frolicking with pixies. We walked the path around the crater which gave us much the same view from every mirador (look out point) but eventually we stumbled across a nice spot and the clouds parted briefly giving us lovely views over lake Nicaragua.

mombacho volcano granada

Getting back into town was also an adventure.  After refusing the overpriced offers of a hundred tuk tuks we found ourselves sitting on the side of the road under the shade of a large tree.  After a few minutes a chicken bus pulled up and we leapt up ready to jump on board, only to see that it was full. The notion of full is apparently a relative term.  In this part of the world it’s considered perfectly acceptable to have three people to a seat, in addition to their bags, lunch and babies.  It’s also perfectly acceptable for people to squeeze into the aisles back to back.  When the bus stopped for us three local woman jumped onto the steps leading up to the drivers seat – there wasn’t any room for them inside but they clung on outside as best they could.  We went to sit down again and wait for the next bus when suddenly the back door was flung open and a man jumped out and started yelling at us to get on.  By this stage the bus had already started to slowly pull away from the kerb so we all scrambled on as quickly as we could only to find there was no room. We grabbed onto the outside railing and tried to find secure footing but before we knew it the same man was pushing us rather insistently into the mass of bodies already squeezed inside.  Somehow we managed to maneuver our way in and found ourselves in very uncomfortable positions.  Picture if you will, me bent nearly in half over the back of a seat trying not to push my face into the three people sitting there with Guy pressed tightly up to my right side and an obese lady pushed tightly into my left side, her arm wobble slapping me gently whenever the bus lurched. Behind Guy are two people pressed right up into him and so on.  Somehow in the midst of all this (I watch extremely closely each time it happens but I’m quite sure it’s a magic trick) a man moves amongst us collecting our fare.  We’re fairly sure the man we paid wasn’t actually the man we were supposed to pay – we just saw a hand outstretched and so we deposited some money into it. Despite the uncomfortable amount of strangers hot flesh rubbing up against us we were kept entertained throughout the bus ride by a Michael Jackson impersonator barking like a dog every few minutes, and a very large angry woman getting into a fight with another lady on the bus.  It almost turned violent but I guess even magicians are bound by the laws of space (she was so wide she had to squeeze sideways through the aisles).  I really wanted to get some photos but there was a slightly hostile vibe on the bus after we got on so I wasn’t brave enough. Here’s a sweaty photo of us at a mirador instead ;).

mombacho volcano granada

We had so much fun in Granada we were a little sad to leave but luckily the Isla de Ometepe had just as much to offer us.  Nicaragua you are such a cool little country we love you!

Here’s a little video I made too

 

granada nicaragua travel blog

Blog Films

Leon, Nicaragua

February 4, 2016

leon nicaragua travel blog 2016

We were a little disappointed by Leon. It was a cool city with a beautiful parque central and a gorgeous cathedral, and we did love to eat the carne asada from the night markets – but it just lacked a charm that we were hoping for.  Something to draw us in and keep us interested.  Also it was hot, so hot I’m surprised we made it out alive.

leon travel blog 2016

Before and after rennovations

DSC04130

We hung out there for a week in an AirBnb with some erm strange people ha (I mean who only has one mug and one spoon in a house?).  There wasn’t a lot to do in the city that we could afford – all the fun adventure activities like volcano boarding were out of our price range, there weren’t a lot of cheap cafes and eateries for us to explore and it was just too hot to wander the streets for very long.  We spent a lot of our time reading and watching Netflix.

To escape the heat one night we watched The Revenant (amazing, deserves all the hype, and Leo gives a flawless performance once again).  We popped into Burger King first since it was next door to get some dessert.  We both felt really guilty being in there and left as soon as we’d finished eating (he had a strawberry cheesecake and I had a soft serve cone) we got up and left really fast haha.  It wasn’t the junk food that made us feel uncomfortable, it was the first fast food place we’ve been into on this trip and we just felt like such gringos I don’t think we’ll do it again in a hurry.

leon travel guide 2016

We did eat local food too! The carne asada behind the cathedral was divine.

 

One day we went to a very strange museum. It was set in an old prison, which combined with the depictions of torture on the wall and the creepy exhibits gave me the heeby jeebies. We didn’t stay long – Guy because he was bored and me because I was terrifed haha. There was one highlight though – the legend of the woman with the huge tits. Seriously.

leon nicaragua travel blog 2016

[I typed this word for word I promise!]

This is about the daughter of a wealthy landowner.  She was a young woman with a large head, a sour face, only a few friends, bulging eyes, a mouth quite pronounced, a long nose, and a well – developed body like a man, thick and muscular arms, long hair and extremely large tits. With all these qualities and despite being the sole heir to the fortune of her parents, she was never able to find a suitor.

She went out into the streets and when she found groups of men, she would choose the one she liked, grab him and not let go, pulling one of her beautiful “pitchers of honey” she said: “take your tit”. Until they got the huge nipple into their mouths, and when she was satisfied she would release them.

Anywaaaay my favourite thing about the city were the pigeons that hung out around the Parque Central.  There were at least a hundred of them at times and they swooped around in a flock from the ground to this gorgeous old building. A couple of times I just sat there watching them. I loved them! Unfortunately on both occasions I tried to get photos and video of them my camera overheated and turned itself off after only a few minutes.

leon travel blog 2016

leon travel blog 2016

leon travel blog 2016

Here’s a quick video I made.

P.s Don’t forget about the giveaway I’m running with GPSmycity.com!

Blog Films Travel

A quick visit to Honduras

January 24, 2016

honduras travel blog

When we were in Antigua, Guatemala trying to plan how to get to Nicaragua we seriously considered doing what many other travellers were doing and catching a bus directly to Leon (about 19 hours with only one stop).  But, we decided it would ultimately be a shame to not at least see a few things along the way.  So we caught a shuttle at 4am to Copan Ruinas.  It was a pretty little town, nothing special and nowhere we wanted to stay longer than a couple of days but the ruins were really fun.  We saw Macaws, a squirrel, a weird little ant eater/rat thing and that I think was a capybara and of course some fantastic ruins.

Here are a few photos and I also made a little video (at the end) 🙂

copan ruinas travel blog

copan ruinas travel blog

copan ruinas travel blog

copan ruinas travel blog

It’s quite hard to see but this staircase is actually a hieroglyphic history of the society that lived here. There are around 2000 symbols depicting different moments in history – and it’s the only remaining artifact of it’s kind. How fascinating!

copan ruinas travel blog

I was so excited walking around these ruins – I totally missed my calling to be an archaeologist. I kept squealing and grabbing Guy’s arm to show him an inscription on a stone or the rooms in a house.  Exploring old stuff is my thing!

copan ruinas travel blog

honduras travel blog

copan ruinas travel blog

copan ruinas travel blog

This photo makes me smile every time I look at it.  If I had to pick one photo that best described Guy I think this would be it.  In the outdoors, wearing an All Blacks t shirt, trying to make me laugh. 🙂

copan ruinas travel blog

copan ruinas travel blog

Getting out of Copan Ruinas was hard! We looked at going to Lake Yojoa but it seemed really expensive for what it was, the Bay Islands had a high malaria risk and the rest of the attractions seemed pretty misseable. But we couldn’t get a direct bus to Nicaragua, and we didn’t want to go through San Pedro Sula & Tegulcipaga so (after a couple of hours of wandering the city being told there was no way easy to get out) we ended up getting a shuttle into El Salvador that evening and then crossing back into Honduras the next day to cross into Nicaragua. It was a huge day, in a hot and very cramped van and not one we want to repeat in a hurry!  In hindsight we should have stayed a few days in El Salvador and broken the trip up, but we had to make a decision there and then because the shuttle was already full and it just didn’t occur to us.  So we ultimately ended up spending nearly 24 hours on a bus afterall…ugh travel!

Anyway it was fun and I’m glad we got to see something of Honduras and El Salvador even if they were only flying glimpses.  We’re in Leon, Nicaragua for the next week before heading to the Isla de Ometepe where Guy’s volunteering at the Fuego y Agua race.

I also made a little video! One of my goals this year is to make more videos. I love photography but capturing moments on video just adds such a visceral element that’s so fun.