Friday, June 27, 2008

Early morning




Generally speaking, it's not a good thing to be awakened before 6am to sirens...especially at my mom's house. I went outside, knowing that this time of year is wildfire season, and saw a lot of smoke (and 2 lost Jeffco Sheriff cars zooming by, and back, not realizing this is a dead end road). Turning on the news, the very nearby house fire was the top 6am news story, and as I type this, there are still at least 2 news helicopters circling overhead. Watching the news, it seems like they're getting it under control and have kept it from spreading to the trees, which would mean an almost certain evacuation. Yikes. Looks like it's about out now, and no one was home, but I don't think I'll be getting back to sleep any time soon!

Yes, photos to come (from camping too) as soon as I get home to my camera cord.

Thank goodness for the hard-working, mostly volunteer firefighters, both local and from nearby counties.

Update: drove by on my way down to town last night, looks like a house I babysat at twice a week for years during high school. Kids are grown but the mom still lives(lived) there....

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rule #4



Rule #4: Drag yourself out of bed (tent/sleeping bag) early enough for the sunrise at least once. It's worth it!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Camping Rule #3




Bring someone else to help paddle while you take pictures! The place we camped was called "Dowdy Lake." Toni's sister brought a canoe, which we enjoyed paddling around!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Camping Rule #2





Kids just can't stand dogs. Keep them separated at all costs!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Camping Rule #1




Rule #1: Bring plenty of food, and be ready to share!

(As I repeatedly teased Toni, "You know what I hate about these family gatherings? There's never enough to eat...")

Friday, June 20, 2008

Home again....sort of.

I am back home, in case you couldn't tell by the massive postings! (Ah, fast internet connections!) But the "sort of" means I won't even be sleeping in my own bed before heading out today to go camping with Toni and his family! Never a dull moment for me!

Back to the hostel in Granada





After my last real post, I headed back to Granada via ferry and taxi (the "chicken bus" is cheaper, but it was hot and a long wait, so a U.K. girl Jen and I split the cost of the taxi). Anyway, back in Granada we stayed at the Bearded Monkey hostel again. Here are some pics of the hostel and bar there. It was a fun place to sit and meet people from all over the world. In the included 2 pictures, we have England, Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia, and oh yeah, the US represented!

Laguna de Apoyo....again!





The first time I went to this deep crater lake, I didn't feel like my camera captured the deep greens and blues of the water very well, so I tried again, and even got some pictures from the kayak I was in! I also took some pictures in the late afternoon when the sun was already starting to go down. So, here are those results...
I think I did a better job of capturing this spot's beauty this time around! (Also the weather/lighting was a lot better)

It was another very relaxing day at Laguna de Apoyo! I was just dying to escape the HEAT! A day of swimming out to the dock and sunbathing, floating around on tubes, and even kayaking was just what I needed! It was a gorgeous, perfect day.
(An unfortunate aside...thinking I could carry the kayak down to the water by myself, I twisted my ankle, which was quite painful and made me glad I was leaving the next day! It's pretty much better, but I'm a little slow on it and Toni calls me "gimpy" now...but I did get to ride the little cart at DIA!)

Flowers of Nicaragua






As with any tropical place, Nicaragua had beautiful, abundant, colorful flowers. These were taken on Isla Ometepe and near Laguna de Apoyo. For the record, Isla de Ometepe is the best-smelling place I've ever been!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Preparations for home....

Boy, this trip sure flew by! I am coming home tomorrow, and this morning made one last arrangement for a taxi to the airport. Today-back to Laguna de Apoyo. It´s 10am and already 88 degrees (feels like 94!) so the water will be great. I´ll try to get some pics on tonight-especially of the deer that lives at the restaurant in Moyogalpa! Thanks for all your comments and thoughts!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Leaving the Island...

Hard to believe, but I only have about 48 hours left in Nicaragua. So, I´m slowly working my way back to civilization! Yesterday afternoon, that took the form of a 3 1/2 hour dusty bus ride back to Moyogalpa, the town on the island where the ferry is. I was really excited when someone actually got onto the bus with a live chicken. Spent last night here, today I´ll take the ferry back and then a bus back up to Granada. Hopefully I can get back to Laguna de Apoyo tomorrow, and then Thursday it´s back to the airport-time flies!

Last night at the hotel´s restaurant, I met a nice Belgian couple and we talked American politics. I wonder if the world´s view of the US will change when we have a new president? That sure would be nice...especially if it´s the president I´ll be voting for! Anyway, I did my part to convince them that not all Americans are idiots, not all of us voted for Bush, and even a whole lot of people that did regret it now. We´ll see....also a DEER walked right through the restaurant, out to the plaza/garden in the back. How weird is that? Is it a pet deer or a stray?

Apparently this heat that I keep complaining about is actually a bit unusual. It normally rains in the afternoons, cooling things off quite a bit. But, it´s only rained twice since I got here-the dayI was at the lake, and a couple of nights ago. Is it even possible to get used to this? The hotel´s little thermometer yesterday had 77% humidity on it yesterday!

Anyway I´ll try to do another post tomorrow, but probably won´t have too much to say or many new pictures since I´m going back where I´ve been. Hasta for now!

*update: back in Granada*

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sunset




A picture's worth a thousand words, right? Not much more needs to be said than these photos...there is a dock at the hostel that goes out over the lake, and it was a perfect place to watch one of the most stunning sunsets I've ever seen. (Note the nearly full moon in the bottom photo-this was in the opposite direction of the actual sunset!) Yeah, I'll be framing some of these beauties when I get home!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Isla de Ometepe

Isla de Ometepe is the main reason I came to Nicaragua, and now, after a missed bus, taxi, another taxi, ferry, and missed bus but then caught later bus (the orange Bluebird school bus variety)....I am here! Phew!

The island is completely beautiful, and surprising at times...you can just be walking along and then out of the rainforest comes this looming volcano! The northernmost, highest and most photogenic volcano, which is active, is Volcan Concepcion. The southern, dormant volcano is Maderas. I am in the "town" of Merida, towards Maderas, but basically in the middle. You should Google Earth Ometepe, I'm sure it would be pretty awesome.

I got here pretty late due to the missed first bus, but found the hostel without problems. Checked in and relaxed after a long day of travel. Then I splurged and got a single hotel room with a bathroom and everything! The big $18 a night instead of five (my number five key doesn't work!). Did some sink laundry and called it a night. It gets dark SO early here, 7:30 feels like about midnight. I finally got a good night's sleep too! Then chatted with 2 English girls and a guy from Florida who I met on the (2 1/2 hour) bus ride over. Then I decided to go for a walk/hike.

This is a lousy place to hike.

First, I had to walk a few miles to the trailhead, which was no big deal. The heat and humidity were a big deal. I was miserable enough that I finally turned around, eager to jump into my freesing shower (huh, that last letter of the alphabet key is broken too!). Took a nap in a hammock, had some enchiladas (which were actually tostadas, but very yummy). Now, at 4:40, the sun is getting ready to set, so hopefully I'll get some great shots from the dock!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Granada






Hello All! Uploaded some photos, so be sure to scroll down!




Last night, unfortunately, I crashed early and woke up at midnight and was probably awake until 3am! No reason...no one snoring (and that´s saying something, with how many people are packed in my room!). Quiet, dark, just not tired.




Today I decided to explore Granada, because I´d hardly been outside my hostel, and it´s supposed to be one of the most picturesque cities in Central America. So I walked down to the main plaza, and then to the shore of Lake Nicaragua. Interesting fact:Granada was repeatedly sacked by pirates who took the Rio San Juan through Lake Nicaragua, so they had to keep rebuilding the churches. Also earthquakes are common here, causing more rebuilding. (Note the volcano in the background of one of the church shots) Although it´s the biggest lake in Central America, it wasn´t really impressive, because you couldn´t see much of it. It seemed more like the shore of an ocean. I don´t know who the statue is of.




Now, hallelujah, I have found an internet place with AIR CONDITIONING. Oh, did I mention it´s HOT here? And humid? Well it is! This A/C is heavenly.




The plan is to take it easy today, and then head out to Isla de Ometepe tomorrow, and spend the night there. I´m hoping to make it out to the Corn Islands, and meet up with some Canadian girls I met in my hostel there. I´m not sure what the internet connection will be like there, so don´t panic if you don´t hear from me for a few days!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tropical Paradise




Okay, NOW I need to find a place that will let me upload pictures because I took some great ones today! Google ¨Laguna de Apoyo¨ for an idea. Here´s what it was: Medium size but WAY deep (200 meters) lake in an old volcano crater. Lush rainforest, total quiet, palm trees, a dock and a floating one to swim to, kayaks and inner tubes, lots of hammocks. It was beautiful, relaxing, and a lot cooler than here in town! The water wasn´t that cold, apparently it is heated by some underwater vents, but it was still refreshing. Ahhhh....


However, even tropical paradises have their rainstorms....how else would everything stay so green?

Now I need to get some pictures! Tomorrow´s plan is to explore Granada more, and find a tour up Volcan Mombacho (or is it Momotumbo? One of those....). They even have some horseback tours. Then, I¨ll start planning my trip to Ometepe. I met a girl today who thinks she´ll be there over the weekend, so maybe we´ll meet again! Adios for now....it is, after all, HORA FELIZ in my hostel! =)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Here I Am

All the punctiation keys above the numbers are broken, otherwise I´d have an exclamation point. Last night I flew into Managua, after a major flurry of frantic preparation on Monday evening--if, by frantic preparation, you mean getting together with Chris and Rene for a couple beers. Seriously, I was really busy before and after that.

Got into Managua around 8pm and about fainted from humidity, even though it was only in the upper 70s. Went through customs, got my bag, and used my charm to ask a travel agent type lady where I could call a hostel, and she offered to do it for me, as I was hoping. Got a taxi...I think they are a little better drivers here than Lima and San Jose. Even though turn signals, red lights and stop signs were all optional, he was calmer about it. My Spanish has really gone downhill, too. I need to start taking classes or something.

I stayed in a pepto pink room last night, wait til you see the pictures. This morning I wandered around a bit, decided I´d seen enough, and took a taxi to the bus station. Man they seemed glad to see me there, a guy took my bag out of the trunk and had it in the bus before I even paid the taxi driver. You´d think they were getting ready to leave, but they weren´t, so I´m not sure what the rush was, I was just glad to catch up to my bag. Lonely Planet said it was worth the extra 75 cents or whatever for a nicer, smaller bus, instead of a big school bus, and they were right.

Getting to Granada was weird because I got off where everyone else got off, and had no idea where I was. Couldn´t find anything that was on my map. So I got a chicken sandwich instead, and found another taxi, and told him I wanted to go to the Bearded Monkey hostel. Here, you share taxis. People just hop in. If you are waiting for an empty one, good luck. While this behavior was considered dangerous in Peru, here it is the norm. Anyway, here I am at the ¨Barba de Mono` hostel. I even went for a dorm room, not just cause it´s cheaper, but to meet people. I went many hours today before I saw any Americans/tourists/blondes. Weird to be a minority, but good to find somewhere that has other travelers in it. The hostel has free internet, but you can´t plug anything like cameras in to the computers so pictures forthcoming at some point.

I am having a good time, just can´t express it without the exclamation points. Haha. I think I´ll stay in Granada today and tomorrow, then take a bus down to Rivas and a ferry across to Isla de Ometepe. I forgot to mention yesterday that the island is made of 2 volcanoes, that´s the best part. Adios

Monday, June 09, 2008

I'm as Surprised as You Are


I completely blame my fencing coach, Russell.

See, here's what happened. We were talking about weather, and how really big lakes, such as Lake Nicaragua, can cause their own weather. Then later in the week, I mentioned that I wasn't sure if I'd be in for the next week or two, because I have a break in classes, and might go out of town. He asked, oh, are you going to Lake Nicaragua?

I wasn't planning on it, but once I got that idea in my head, I couldn't get it out! So the research phase began. For my out of country trips, this phase often lasts several months. This, it was a few days. Bought the Lonely Planet book pictured, checked out fares and did some online research, emailed some friends, thought. This morning, I went "GULP" and clicked the enticing "purchase" button.

So here's the story. In less than 24 hours, I'm flying to Nicaragua!

In case you are my mother, or anyone else's mother, or related to me in any way: Lonely Planet reports that although Nicaragua has a bad reputation for being dangerous, that is due to the Sandanista/civil wars in the 1980's, which are, clearly, over. Nicaragua is ACTUALLY the safest country in Central America. (Did that make anyone feel better?)

The rough itinerary is to fly into Managua, spend the first night there since I arrive late, go to Granada, which is supposed to be one of the prettiest cities in Nicaragua, and then take a ferry to Isla de Ometepe, on Lake Nicaragua (biggest lake in Central America, and biggest lake island). The whole island was formed by 2 volcanoes. Hang out there, check out volcanoes and petroglyphs, chill on the beach, see a waterfall, etc. Then I might go to the Corn Islands, or else Volcan Mombacho (which is active) and then make my way home.

Dang. I need to start packing. And what am I gonna do with all the food in my fridge?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A good laugh

No, I don't think we should elect Obama simply because he's a good public speaker. However...well...this is really bad.

WAY TO GO, OBAMA!!!

Umm, and just an aside, isn't it sort of cheesy to not concede? If I wasn't politically aware, I would have sworn Hillary was giving a victory speech on NPR tonight....come on, it's time to unite! History in the making.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Springtime!




With school out, I finally found some time to do some planting! This year, for the first time, I'm trying my hand at a few veggies (tomatoes, bell peppers, & cucumbers) to see how they do in pots. I'm hoping they'll fare better against the birds than last year's attempt at strawberries. We'll see!