We tried to go to bed early Monday night because we had our alarm set for 4:30 AM, but in true Linsey fashion, when there is alarm clock I don’t sleep. I tossed and turned the entire night, and sure enough, when the alarm went off at 4:30 AM I was wide-awake. But I didn’t have a choice, we had to get up because I was determined to see Nicaragua! Clint would have rather pushed the snooze button indefinitely. He thought I was CRAZY for wanting to go to Nicaragua! He kept telling me that we were going to get kidnapped by the Sandinistas!
I pulled Clint out of bed. We were doing this!! Our hotel made us a box breakfast, which was really good. Clint got a breakfast burrito and I got a ham and egg sandwich on homemade bread. Both of which were way better than anything I’ve had in the States. Go figure!
Our driver picked us up at 5:15am and we went through a series of bus changes and driver changes, and a quick Costa Rican group breakfast just south of the border, but we were soon on our way to Nicaragua. Clint thought we were going to be kidnapped at any moment (I secretly thought we might get kidnapped at any moment). Things felt a little dicey crossing the border and the whole process took FOREVER, but I was just excited to see Nicaragua! Eventually we made it past all rows and rows of armed guard and were on our way to our first stop, Lake Nicaragua. Lake Nicaragua wasn’t terribly impressive, but I got some silly pictures and totally embarrassed Clint!
Our second stop was to the Caterina viewpoint, which is one of the most picturesque destinations in all of Nicaragua. on our way there we passed by some of the most impoverished towns I’ve ever seen. It broke my heart watching those little children with bare feet playing in front of tin roof homes with were barely held up by particle board. Then all of the sudden – BAM – million dollar views! I guess the Lord blesses people in different ways.
Our third stop was to the Masaya Volcano, which the 16th century Spanish invaders aptly named the “Gate to Hell.” There aren’t too many places in the world where can look right inside a live Volcano. This was one of them. I asked our guide, “When do they know when the volcano is going to erupt?” He responded, “We don’t. That’s why we’re only staying five to ten minutes. Plus, the gases are very harmful to the human body.” Super.
But I will say, it was worth every single minute we were there. Peering down inside a real volcano and actually seeing the fiery lava below was one of the most spectacular things I’ve ever seen in my life. Plus, it gave you a pretty good reality check. As humans we naturally think we can control our own destiny. Staring down into that volcano, I was acutely reminded that nature is really in charge.
After surviving an impeding volcanic eruption (or at least the gas risk), we safely made it to the nearby town of Masaya for lunch at a cute little outdoor restaurant. I was starting to get used to having chicken, rice, and beans for every single meal. After lunch, we somehow acquired a little Nicaraguan shopping assistant. He latched onto us and followed us around for 45 minutes helping us pick out the perfect gifts for the trip home. And yes, he was generously tipped at the end for his exceptional service and expertise.
After experiencing the little town of Masaya, we drove into the colonial town of Granada. We toured one of the famous churches and then wandered around the beautiful and colorful city buying more souvenirs than we knew what to do with. I can’t help myself. They need the money and I love shopping! It’s a win-win!
The highlight of the trip was at the very end. Our guide took us on an amazing boat ride through the islands of Lake Nicaragua, which was actually formed by an ancient volcanic irruption. There are 365 islands on the lake, many of which are in habited by the most important people of Nicaragua. We cruised in between islands and inlets even saw one of the most famous islands of all, Monkey Island, which is home to three rescue monkeys: a mommy, a daddy, and a baby. I saw all three! They were SO sweet and SO cute and loved people!
After the boat ride, we hopped back on the bus and made our way back to Costa Rica. After a long bus ride, we finally got back to our hotel room safe and sound at 9:45 PM. We were thoroughly exhausted! We ordered room service and had dinner at 10:15pm that night. I was sound asleep by 10:30pm.