Leaving Costa Rica was actually pretty simple, as far as the scheduling and prices of buses, but I got so torn when I arrived in Liberia because I had the choice of going back south into the country and visiting Monteverde cloud forest but had so much anxiety about getting stuck in a bus for 2 days or having a bridge collapse under us that I decided to head north into nearby Nicaragua instead. It took 3 buses, a taxi and a ferry in a whole day of travel but I went straight to my first destination: Isla Ometepe. It is this beautiful island formed by 2 huge volcanoes that rise so high up from the middle of Lake Nicaragua, a fresh water body of water so big you’d swear you were in the ocean as you crossed the rough waves to get to Volcan Concepcion. It’s the most picturesque, perfectly symmetrical, cone shaped volcano, with a little bit of white cloud on its peak, and I’d definitely suggest anyone going to Nicaragua to be sure to spend some time on this sleepy island. However, don’t take the overnight ferry to Granada since traveling from 12 to 5 am on a rocky, oily smelling cargo ship doesn’t really let you appreciate the lake or the pitch black scenery going by. And, getting sea sick makes it much worse. So does drinking 3 double pina coladas before embarking… live and learn I guess.
I arrived in Granada, the most popular destination for tourists in Nicaragua, and it was pretty easy to see why. It looked like a post card from Cuba, with so many colourful, 1-storey homes and degraded colonial churches and facades scattered around the walkable, cobblestone town. I couchsurfed here too, but with one Spaniard and an American, since it seems half the town are actually foreigners who came and never left.
I spent one day with a couple American guys, one whose name is Guy and is a retired, professional cyclist and the other who owns a bike rental company in Granada. It was appropriate we spent a day biking together to nearby Lago de Apoyo, a big crater lake you can swim in, but on the way home I decided I was the weakest link in our bike gang so I traded my bike for a horse since riding those is more my forte. To my pleasant surprise, the pregnant belly on this mare made her waddle like an Icelandic tolter – perfect for sitting bareback.