Sunday, 17 March 2013

Hola Nicaragua!

So it's only been about a week since I left Utila, but I have seen so much! Guess that's  what happens when you do the hostel hopping backpacker thing :)
The first night off the island I stayed in a hostel/brewery called D&D in the middle of Honduras somewhere. It was awesome. Mum will be happy to know that it stopped me from having to stay a night in Tegulcigalpa (the capital, and apparently pretty dodgy) or San Pedro Sula (city with the highest murder rate in the world) en route to Nicaragua, so it being awesome was a complete bonus - I would have stayed anyway. Plus I bumped into some friends from Canada (who I met in Utila) there which was fun! Only stayed a day but I did an amazing tour of pulhapanzak waterfall that led us behind (and through) the 30/40m waterfall and into some caves. Plus our guide Carlos showed us three different spots we could jump in. So fun! One of the jumps was really high, almost didn't do it, but so glad I did!
Dan and Carly (Canada) and Margie (holland) and I went to the local fair that we heard about somehow that night. It was in Las Vegas, which is the neighbouring town, and was like any town show in Aus really. Except way better because it was completely Central American!
They had a Ferris wheel and dodgem cars, and heaps of other rides. Then there was all the crazy street food plus fairy floss and corn on the cob and hamburgers, and popcorn vendors... And the beer/food tents with local grub and beers of course!
The main differences I noticed were: chilli sauce coming with everything, unrecognisable fruits/sweets,  home fireworks, a wooden bull figure with a lit firecracker on its tail being run around amongst the crowd, super cheap prices, a dance floor on the street with party lights that people danced salsa-inspired moves on, hippy/travel bracelets and jewellery being sold, a guy with two budgies that picked out cards for people and meant something - maybe luck messages? Fortunes? ...and then I guess probably the fact that the place was packed with locals! We were the only gringos there and considering the size of the town the was a really impressive number of people there having a good time :) I think I hit the jackpot for my one-day visit!
Next I spent the day in various buses crossing the border and travelling from Honduras to Nicaragua, but we only made it to Managua... The goal was Leon! I was with Dan and Carly the whole way, and man it was a long day. 6am till 8m? I think. Then we had to stay in the worlds dodgiest 'motel' in Managua for a night before we could get an early bus to Leon... The nice American-Nicaraguan man at the bus station who helped us walked us to this super dodgy prison-esque place near around the corner and down an alley, arranged for the room for us ($2 each), gave us directions for the morning and told us not to come out until daylight. Wow.
Long story short it was really dodgy. But we didn't die. Totally priceless. ;)
Really appreciated a good shower and amazing local-lunch-spot food that we were recommended when we finally made it to Leon though.
Leon is beautiful! I did the tourist thing and went volcano boarding on Cerro Negro  - it's the only place in the world that does it! So hilarious. Like sledging I guess, but down a volcano.  Apparently the record speed is 90kmph! Don't think I reached that... Hahaha
Then I went on an overnight hike up Volcan Telica which was just about the BEST THING EVER! I saw lava. There were group sing-a-longs whilst hiking. I got covered in so much dirt I looked tanned. We saw an  incredible sunset and sunrise. There was boiling mud. Infamous snack 2. Sutty's taco tattoo. My  ice cold beer at the comedor on finishing. So much good shit! (excuse my french). Then when the tour group got back we pretty much all ended up staying in the same hostel - where Tommy works (sleepover! haha) - and had a celebratory dinner ( and party!) that night :)
Such a fun couple of days. And my muscles still hurt so it's nice to think I did some descent exercise too, it's been a while...!  Super sad leaving Leon, I met so many cool people and the town has a cool vibe. But I have do kind of have a time limit, and I really want to make it to South America soon!
Since then I have had two nights in Granada, also in Nicaragua, which has been a lot more chilled. No intense tours and crazy nights out ;)
I tested my Spanish (or lack of) by bartering for and having a tour of Granada's isletas for an hour with a local guide in his little boat. It was awesome! I don't think I was ripped off... Haha when I ran out of money to pay him and for a taxi, so decided to walk back, he insisted on walking back with me so that I was safe and I'm pretty sure he s trying to ask me out... He had to be at least 50... (I don't get it. Really?) haha
Anyway, one of the 365 (?) isletas, which were formed by a volcanic eruption, has 4 monkeys on it! Others have millionaire's mansions and jet skis... Then there are a few that locals live on, a couple with little restaurants and a bar or two  i guess. But each island is only big enough for one building! Pretty cool.
The Central Park and markets in Granada are gorgeous, so I have spent plenty of time roaming around and tasting the street food :) cheapest and best way to eat! Totally chilled and ready to try out this wwoofing thing tomorrow!
I ready to give the tourist thing a break for a while.
But then again, if it doesn't work out then I'll head off to Costa Rica and Panama straight away to try and get to Colombia faster!
The jewellery is better there I hear... And I need a new hair wrap :P
Ciao amigos!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Officially an advanced open water diver!

My 5 days has extended to about 10 days now for me on Utila! haha a common occurrenceon this beautiful bay island off Honduras. it's a hard place to leave. I'm on an island in the Caribbean mannnn :) The locals even speak English with accents similar to Jamaica. So cool! (Spanish isn't really a necessity here... it's a bit of a tourist Center). The island lives and breathes diving, and only diving. And the diving is amazing!! Beautiful clear waters of about 26 degrees, sunshine most days (not everyday though, disappointing! Haha) and incredible coral formations swarming with so many different species of fish.... So impressive!! One morning we came across a pod of dolphins between our two dives so we all jumped in and snorkelled with them! They were unbelievably playful! Swimming right at you and around us in circles. So cool!! I've been hanging out for whale sharks though because it is the beginning of the season... Hasn't happened yet but I have two more fun dives to go so there is still a chance, fingers crossed! Learning to breathe underwater is awesome. I should've done it ages ago! But then again, if I did that I wouldn't have done it here with the awesome people I have met. And it's cheaper here - win win :) Now I'm going to be looking out for any chances to scuba dive around the world and for the rest of my travels this trip! Got to keep up my new skills. time to discover a whole new world!! Teehee Luckily my amazing parents helped me do the advanced course after my initial open water course as an early birthday present - best present ever thank you so much!! Which means that I am now allowed to dive to depths of 30m and I got to do a whole bunch of awesome adventure dives... a night dive, wreck dive, deep dive, drift dive and navigation dive. So cool!! We learnt about different techniques and precautions/facts about the different types too, so I'm totally a pro diver now. kinda... haha, I love it! Besides diving hanging out on utila has been super chilled. There are plenty of really cool travellers and fellow divers to hang out with and a beach party to go to every other night pretty much! Been drinking a bit more than originally planned... Haha but so fun, and I don't the night before a dive mostly! ;) I might have to be a little more careful about what I spend over the next couple of weeks though, not that it's expensive here. Super cheap. But still.. Haha Anyway, one of the best bars in the world is on this island - treetanic! - so we checked that out, incredible tree house-ey hippy bar! And one night there was the Dive Masters in Training graduation and there was an ABC themed party for the new graduates to complete a bunch if drinking challenges at. It reminded me of college a little actually, good fun and lots of alcohol!! Haha but not so fun for them... One task was 'mask clear' where they had to snort a beer through their nose as someone poured it into their dive mask from the top. And they managed it!!!? No idea how.. crazy! Another night there was a beach party complete with BBQ, bonfire, laser lights, bar, dance floor and pumping music to raise money for a family after a road accident. In general I've had a lot of time just chilling and hanging out with fellow divers, eating baliadas (local wrap/kebab/enchillada thing that is delicious and the cheapest way to eat) and wandering around town. It's been great! Spencer got sick on the second day after we arrived, and didn't enjoy diving at all so I have been here by myself since the third day when he headed off to Nicaragua early (instead of finishing his open water). By myself is a string way of putting it though, I'm never by myself because there are so many awesome people around to hang out with! Definitely learnt that you never have to be lonely traveling alone, which is nice to know :) And I have learnt so much about where to stay further south and the best way to get to South America from here, probably going to cross paths with heaps of people I've met here as I go! Tomorrow I'm going to do my last 2 dives and then I'll be heading off on the ferry Saturday morning. Should make it to Tegucigalpa that night then Leon the following day. At the moment my plan is to spend about a week in Leon/Grenada and then start at a WWOOFer farm near there. I've found a place, it looks good so I will probably stay there for a couple of weeks or a month depending how it is, should be awesome. It will definitely be a different experience to here, which is exactly what I'm looking for! Alright that's me for a while :) I recommend everyone does their PADI course so we can all go diving together when I get back by the way, that would be awesome. Xxxxx