Diary 3 and the central western part, I now head west
to find the sea.|
20/12. I get up too early for the restaurant to serve me breakfast, but I got my own. Get a long chat with a young German man, travelling for a long time, with way too much gear. Then I set off towards El Astillero. The first half is familiar roads, the last 50 kilometres by a good gravel road. I see more oxen wagons than petrol vehicles.
It is through forest and cattle fields in general. The huts are real simple, and I'm not surprised, when I have t cross a river - within the water. Well, they tend to be dry by now, but not this one. Where the road assent, it is damaged by last years rain, and a bit tricky for my town-car. I don't get to see that much to the sides, but it is mainly small hills, overgrown with low trees. A little family have a flat tire on their motorcycle, and I give the wife and their tattler a lift to the next village.
I finally make it to El Astillero, which should be a little undisturbed fishing village. Well, that might have been, before the surfers discovered it. It is still small, and fishing is a big thing, but the houses are in bricks and concrete, the boats of glass-fibre. I make a stroll along the perfect beach and around the centre of the village, but fail to find any charm. Well, here are a few Frigate bids and a brown pelican along with the usual black vultures.
My next target is additional 80 kilometres south along the coast, and again, half is by gravelroad. This time, though, the houses are slightly bigger and better. In Rivas, I turn into a shortcut through more cattle fields and bush-land. I reach San Juan del Sur, and find my hostel three kilometres outside, hoping to avoid the worse surfer's party. Later, it turns out I found it! Anyway, here are a great view over the crescent moon shaped bay, with the little town in.
I head downtown, and park at the little central market. It have more or less been taken over by T-shirts and flip-flaps, but I get two great vegetarian tortilla with salad for €3. I do a loop in the centre, but fail to find the colonial buildings, I was promised.
The beach is real wide and perfect. It only lack people, I guess. The sun are only seen in real short glimpses, but the temperature is high. Black clouds are pulling in fast, and I take it like a sign, and buy a cup of cafe-latte. More expensive than my lunch, but it is at tourist place. A corner in town have some paintings, resembling those I saw in Haiti last year.
I decide to make it to yet one more sight today: Refugio de Vida Silveste la Flor, 20 kilometres further down south by mainly gravel road. It is famous for its huge bay, used by the Leatherback sea turtles and the Olive Ridley; Lepidochelys olivacea. I can't recall, if it is season or not, but it should be some nice nature anyway. And everywhere, you read; you can only see them at night.
Well, I'm in luck; around 300 Olive Ridley are found at the beach in the afternoon sun, and I got it all to myself - and some black vultures. They clean up the eggs that are victims of yet another nest. I make a lot of photos and some videos, but fail to get some of the eggs. It is clear that the professional photographers dig a bit, to expose the hole - I don't!
The sun is getting low, and I head back to San Juan del Sur to find dinner. I pick-up a young man with a big bag, thinking he will have a hard time getting a lift by now. Despite it is not dark yet, the joints at the market have closed, and I end up at a fine Chinese restaurant for a fried tofu. Six times as expensive as the lunch, slightly better. As I get home, the rain picks up, and at eight, the party head down town. I delete pictures of Olive Ridley most of the evening. Out west to the Pacific Ocean and some Olive Ridley.
21/12. It feels like I have had the hostel all to my self during the night, and even in the morning. It is a greyish day, and I do some office work, before I head off. It is basically a tour around the huge lake Lago Cosibolca. I skip the gravel roads, and make it to Granada quite fast.
From here, the road changes. It is in the process of being upgraded, but most is still the old road. It passes in-between the huge lake and a wetland. It is metres from the water, and in a sunny day, it would have offered so many motives. It is a windy day, and it sure look like the sea. It starts with some tin-sheets along the road, then here are hardly any villages, just some scatted huts.
I reach a long stretch, made up by washing-board gravel road. The sun starts to break through, and the wetlands look so great. The rice fields take over, and here, they are lush green. The road reach a huge river, but the bridge is fare from finish. They do have a cable ferry, capable of crossing with two cars at the time. The fee is €1 for car and driver. I pass some workers in the rice fields and a huge group of white herons.
Then the landscape raises to 50-100 metres, and the cattle fields with scattered trees and bushes take over. I can see the yellow hills way out, but soon after, I enters them. I finally make it to Juigalpa village, and drive straight through it without stopping. The hotel I found from home is about three times as expensive, and I return to town, to find out if it actually is worth a stop. It is not, and I head further on towards the south.
From here, it is generally really green cattle fields with a lot of trees and bushes. Here are hardly any settlement, no sun, but a light drizzle. Despite the altitude is below 100 metres, there are quite some bromeliads in the trees. Then there start to be some huts, then villages and finally, I make it to San Carlos, just before three.
It is fare from a big, nor modern town, but it is the border-town to Costa Rica, and it is charming and lively. It is found at the shore of Cosibolca, but it is the bus station, that make the busy place. I drop the car a central place, and make a good stroll around. Here are absolutely not a single fancy place, and it is clearly different from the other towns I' been visiting. I get a cup of coffee at the bus station, and watch the locals heading home to their farms and villages along with the numerous belt- and watch salesmen.
While I walk around, I find a truly charming house. And it is a hotel. I get a real cosy room, the cheapest so far. I drop the bag, and head back into town. I meet an American, living in Costa Rica and completely lost here. He paid a Costa Rican taxi driver to bring him to the other side of the lake, but apparently, this was closer? I get him sorted out, and recommend him my hotel.
After another tour around town and the busy bus station, I find the little hill, where the Spanish build a fortress. I had expected a bit of it was remaining, but apparently not. Anyway, a good view over town and lake. Back through town to find dinner, before it is too late. Kind of breakfast; Rice with brown beans, fried eggs, cheese and a boiled banana - or rather a plantain. Back to chat a bit with the interesting American and do the usual work. Get him to laugh, when I mention the cartoons use to be in the back of the newspapers; now, they are on the front (- all about US president Donald Trump...). Around Lago Cosibolca to San Carlos.
22/12. I got a bit too late to bed, but I intend to go all the way out to the eastern coast at Bluefields. The GPS estimate it is a 232 kilometre, 7;30 hour drive. As I fear the last bit, I kind of speed the first part, although it is NOT a smooth drive. It might have been sealed in ancient time, but now, it is more potholes than sealing.
I pass a lot of milk cans, and quite some pick-ups with huge blue plastic barrels in the back. Many horses have two milk cans on their backs. The landscape raises slowly to 300 metres, and gain more water as it do. The top have a bit of coffee plantations along with sweet potatoes.
After two hours, I reach the huge village of Nueva Guianea. The GPS estimate the last 100 kilometres is a five hour drive, but here is a great new road all the way to Bluefields. That said, I do meet significantly more horsemen than cars. The rivers I cross are filled with red water, and many meadows are flooded. It is a gloomy day, and the rain newer stops, it seems. The new and real smooth concrete road is in huge contrast to the real humble huts along it.
Some strange thing is laying in the middle of the road. It is a Three-toed sloth. I thought a sloth was pathetic, but a soaked one, trapped in the middle of a road tops that! I hauls it to the side, and wish it the best. Besides from the sloth, I only see black vultures trying to dry and warm up. And of cause cattle, dogs and a few sheep.
I reach Bluefields before noon, but it is not what I had hoped for. It is really worn-down! The streets are broken up, the houses falling apart. It is beyond the charming decay, and of cause, the gloomy day does not help. It just stopped raining when I enters, but the streets are full of ponds.
I do a loop around the central square, but it is not where the action is. Here are hardly any shops. I try at the coastline, but it is closed off by fences and buildings. One street up, the shops are found, most on the sidewalk. Here are not a single fancy shop or house at all. The only Creole "feeling" is the black people mixing in, and the few English words people use at me. I make quite some photos, but the light is real bad.
I find a ferry port, and the pier next to it offers some great motives with colourful fruits. The fish are sold in the streets, displayed on some boxes. I end up driving to one end of the town to find the beach, but it is a swamp. The other end of town is blocked by a military facility. I had planned to sleep here, but at three, I fail to see why?
The GPS estimate I have a ten hour drive to Granada,
and I plan to sleep somewhere along the road. The first part is by the great
road to Nueva Guianea, then I head further north, and end in the little
truck-stop of Santo Tomás. It getting dark, and here is a hotel and a
restaurant; all I need. It turned out to be a less exiting day, both in the
good way, and the bad: I did not get
the great experience I had hoped for, but the road was not a challenging as
I had feared. The road to
Bluefields and back.