My friend Barbara and I decided to take a trip to Nicaragua this year.

Both of us have been to Guatemala and Costa Rica and decided the next Central American country we would visit would be Nicaragua since it is off the beaten path!

I've also been to Panama and the Panama Canal and several times to Mexico! Once for a few days before flying to Cuba!

Here are our immigration stamps for Costa Rica and Nicaragua.  

We entered Costa Rica in Liberia and took a boat on the San Juan River to San Carlos and received our tourist card for Nicaragua there.

 Ometepe Volcano in Nicaragua!

Nicaragua - Ometepe Volcano - 2008

 Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica!

Costa Rica - Arenal Volcano - 2005

Tikal in Guatemala!

Guatemala - Tikal - 2003

Check out the map and the brief description of Nicaragua on this link!

Dr. Bryon Greenhouse - Vacinations Needed for Nicaragua

My prior doctor at the VeteransAdministration Hospital responded to an e-mail from me asking about the malaria and other diseases I might encounter. He had gone to Africa,Vietnam, Cambodia and Costa Rica as I have, and he has good insight into various diseases in Central America and other locations around theworld. He responded with the following information:

I'm glad you are happy with your new doctor. You will need malaria prophylaxis for Honduras, but the good news is that it is one of the few countries in the world where you can still use chloroquine (although the VA does not actually have chloroquine but they have a similar drug - hydroxychloroquine). It has less side effects than mefloquine (Larium) and is very safe and effective and only needs to be taken once a week like mefloquine. There is also risk of dengue feverin Honduras which gives you a horrible fever and pain. The good news is that it goes away on its own, the bad news is that there is no vaccine or medication to prevent it since it is a viral disease. It is transmitted by mosquitoes so use long sleeves and DEET especially if there happens to bean outbreak when you are there! Let Mai or your new doc know about your trip and they can have it written for you. I think you already had typhoidvaccine though you may want to check if you need a new one yet. Keep me posted on your adventures! - Bryan

December 29th, 2007: I met with my new doctor, Mr. Chamie, and showed him the above information. He agreed and I ended up having a flu shot and then, a typhoid shot in the left arm and a tetanus shot in the right arm. Dr. Chamie said he would also send me the malaria pills and suggested I and any fellow travelers to Nicaragua should not swim in any lakes or pet any animals as the lakes are full of nasty things and many animals may be infected with rabies!

Feb. 06 - Delta Air Lines # 7784 Operated by: Expressjet Airlines - Please check in with the operating carrier - San Francisco International (SFO) to Los Angeles International (LAX) - Departure (SFO): February 6, 7:50 PM PST (evening) - Arrival (LAX): February 6, 9:08 PM PST (evening) - Delta Air Lines # 9693. Los Angeles International (LAX) to Liberia (LIR) - Departure (LAX): February 6, 11:30 PM PST (evening) to Costa Rica.Los Angeles International (LAX) to Liberia (LIR) - Departure (LAX): February 6, 11:30 PM PST (evening) to Costa Rica.

Feb. 07 - Arrival (LIR) February 7, 7:00 AM CST (morning).

We arrived at the Crowded Buses Liberia Airport and instantly took a cab to town to Terminal 1 and caught a bus to our first stop which took two hours to Canas.  Many of the buses in Nicaragua are actually old school buses with little room to sit so many ended up standing, some for hours!   We caught the second bus and rode for two hours to Upala.  Caught a third bus and rode for an hour to Cano Negro and then we were dumped at a park andtold the next bus was due at six o'clock!  Well it was only 1 P.M. and we would get into Los Chiles at eight and it would be dark - how would we find a hotel!

So Barbara saw a small off the road vehicle and flagged it down.  A German man and two women agreed to take us to Los Chiles and we paid $20.  It was well worth it as they drove us all over town and we all checked out the hotels and ended up staying at the same one, the Hotel Cabinos Carolina.  Very clean and it had air conditioned! 

We then decided to check out the town and close to our hotel we saw a bar and a woman came out and sat us down and talked to us for over an hour. She introduced herself as Elizabeth and sat us down at a table outside the bar!  Of course she spoke Spanish and we, English but found out her husband died 10 years ago and she owned most of the properties along the block.

The pharmacy next door was owned by her and one of her sons was a pharmacist!  One daughter was married and living in Italy!  She pointed out her 'lover' next door with his crew and pickup truck cleaning up the area.  She called him over and squeezed him and said lover!  We checked out the town by walking all over, found the immigration office we needed to visit before going taking the boat to San Carlos.

We then found a small restaurant and had dinner and finally after a long day went to bed as the next day would be another long one going to El Castillo!

Hotel Cahinas Carolina


Our Hotel

Nice Patio

Flowers Galore

Very interesting wooden building!

Feb. 08 - We got up early, dressed and put on the back packs and off to the immigration office.  We got here as they opened and had our papers filled out and were on our way.  Except the boat didn't leave until around 12:30 P.M. so we sat at the dock and people watched.  WChuck in Los Chilese finally got on the boat and off we went.   About half way to San Carlos we were stopped by the Nicaraguan military and papers were checked and off we went to San Carlos. This trip took about two hours.  We landed on a very small wooden board walk in San Carlos and waited in line for our tourist papers.  We then rushed to another boat that took us to Es Castillo.  This trip took about three hours.  

I asked if I could stand on the bow of the boat as we cruised down the San Juan river and I was able to get several great views of the fort on the hill as we came into El Castillo.  El Castillo was built by the Spanish in 1673 to repel pirates that were going up river and looting Granada.  We landed and went to the Richardson Hotel for a room.  No air conditioning but a ceiling fan and of course, mosquito netting!  We then toured the town and ended up having a beer on a second story bar lover looking the rapids.  We then found a house with two tables in the rear and had a drink there.  The family was having dinner at the table and the wife asked if we wanted dinner there!  We said yes and after about an hour, we had wonderful chicken that was roasted on a wood fire along with rice and a salad.  Very good! 

Boats from Los Chiles Costa Rica to San Carlos Nicaragua


Local Bar

Chuck is ready to go!

Many ships ready to take tourists on the San Juan River.


We were stopped by the military when crossing the border.

Housing along the river.

Our boat to El Castillo

Housing along the river

Sailing into El Castillo and the fort.

Feb. 09 - We got up early and had breakfast at the hotel and made an effort to see the fort early in the morning.   We hiked up the hill and started gEl Castillo Fortoing through the ruins and the museum.  Suddenly it started to rain and we enjoyed the cool air for about an hour.  Then it cleared up and was warm again but not bad enough to make one feel like lying down!  Check out this link for more information about the fort of El Castillo.   River Shrimp Luncheon

We then walked around town again taking photos and had a drink at one place over looking the town.  Next we stopped at a place we had seen with a pool table in the front and one table in the back over looking the river.   After about half an hour the owner asked us if we wanted the special!  We asked what it was.  A river shrimp the size of a lobster!  Well it was $12 dollars a plate.  We decided to try one plate as a share.  There were two shrimp and plenty of rice and other side dishes so we were happy with the arrangement!

It was hot so we went back to the hotel and visited with the family that owned the hotel.  The wife's sister was visiting with her four year old son who was a darling.  He Boy Fisherman!  was practicing with his net like a fisherman and wanted to show me how he could swing the net out on the grass like a real fisherman.  I got several good photos of him doing his thing.

After our siesta, I actually took a nap in the hammock hanging in the living room!  We looked for a place to eat and many places were closed due to the fact it was Sunday.  We also found out if we wanted to get the early boat out of El Castillo and back to San Carlos, we needed to sign up at the Vanessa Restaurant.  We signed up for the high speed boat and then had dinner there.  Finally back to the hotel for a good night sleeps as we had to get up around four A.M. to dress and catch the boat! 

El Castillo in the Rain

View down the river.

View overlooking part of the town.

Lunch by the River


Cocktails overlooking the city.

Braving the rapids to fish!

A favorite spot for a beer!

Visiting the Family who Owned the Hotel & Son

Little girls with dolls!

Practicing his fishing net throwing for me!

Feb. 10 - Today was the worst day of the trip. We got up at around 4 A.M. and got ready and walked to the dock by 5 A.M.  The high speed boaBus to Managua from San Carlos  t left at 5:15 and off we went to San Carlos.  Every time the boat did a swerve on the river, the water sprayed over the people sitting on the side seats, I was sitting in the middle for a change and was happy about that fact.

We then got on the bus at San Carlos and the proceeded for a nine hour trip to Managua.  The first four hours were on gavel roads with some holes five feet deep!   We wondered what happened in the rainy season!  Then four hours on concrete!

Then in Managua we traveled by bus to Rivas but it was slow.  The road was terrible and we didn't get there until nine P.M.  It was very dark and we were dumped on the edge of town!  Mon Dieu!   A cab driver came by and we said, Take us to a Hotel!  He said there were two, low cost and high.  We said the high priced one - the Nicarao Inn! Well it was a very nice hotel and we stayed there and then proceeded to go to dinner at a club next door with a great waiter who we had a wonderful time kidding.  We had a wonderful chicken with a rich cream sauce on it.  Then to bed and air conditioning to get ready to take the ferry to the volcanic island in Lake Nicaragua!

Feb. 11 - Ferry to Ometepe Today we got up early and caught a taxi to the port and there we boarded a ferry to Ometepe.  This link details the Ometepe Island and volcanoes.   We landed on the island and caught a taxi to our hotel, the Charco Verdi, situated on the beach beside the active volcano.  We never actually saw the top of the volcano due to all the clouds.

The first day we walked around the lagoon and checked out the birds and the howler monkeys. Sunset We actually had a bungalow with two regular sized beds and a twin.  It was very large with a huge bathroom and air conditioning and fans.  

The bar/restaurant looked over the beach and the coast line and the sunsets were magnificent.  We decided to get a good nights sleep because the next day we wanted to visit the petroglyphs on the other side of the island plus do the walk around the lagoon again.  

This first evening I started to talk to a local guide as we watched a fabulous sunset over the lake. Harold, and I soon became good friends.  He talked about the difficulty of trying to be in business for ones self and I made some suggestions as to setting up a web site and so on.  The next evening Barbara and I had a long talk with him.

Ferry to Ometepe


Ferry from Rivas to Ometepe.

Two volcanoes compose the island of Ometepe = Meaning Two Hills

Our Bangalow on Ometepe


Our walk way to the jungle from our private bungalow!

Relaxing on the  beach front.

Cafe by the lake shore!

Feb. 12 - The next day we had an early breakfast and checked out the howlers again.  We then decided to take a bus and travel to the other side of thePetroglyphs island and check out the petroglyphs.   They were created by the local natives around 1,500 years ago.  They were representatives of monkeys and other animals plus a version of the twin volcano island.

We did another walk around the lagoon and then went to dinner and afterwards Harold joined us for a drink.  We had multiple wine coolers and he had multiple beers and then dinner!  He told us about his role as a guide and his specialty is taking people to the top of the active volcano.  It is a six hours trip to the top and a four hour hike to the base.   By the time he pays a taxi driver to pick up the people and also supplying a lunch for each person and, if this tour is made through a hotel, they take their cut and he as a tour guide, is left with basically a pittance of a salary.  

So I said I would make a mock up of a web site for him.  We shall see what transpires after I setup a website for him. I am reformatting this webpage in 2020.10.17 and I never heard from him again after leaving Nicaragua!

Animals and Petroglyphs on Ometepe


Howler monkeys in the trees outside our bungalow.

Mother and baby.

A variation on a blue jay!


A hide away next to the Petroglyphs!

The famous monkey petroglyph about 1,500 years old!

Feb. 13 - Today we caught a taxi to the port and took a smaller boat to the mainland.  There we caught a bus to Granada and stayed at the Granada Main Street Asialatina Hotel.  I said it sounded like a gay bar and the receptionist laughed and said the owners were gay!   The 'white' man was from Manhattan and his lover was a black Nicaraguan.  

We found out the prices were at least $10 a room higher and maybe even more!  We were told they were having of all things, an International Poetry Recital in the Main Square and all the rooms in town had been rented so we were lucky to get a room in a nice area of town.

We did go to the Main Square that night and there were several thousand people in the square and a big podium in front of the main cathedral and office building and the first poet read her poem but, she read it in Chinese and about five people clapped out of a thousand!  Each poet spoke in their language, French, Polish, Chinese, and so on.  Very strange to say the least. (A side note.  I went to the YMCA today, the 21st, and told a woman in the senior center I had just come from Nicaragua.  She asked me, "Did you go for the Society of Poets Convention there?"  I had a good laugh, even someone in San Francisco knew about the poetry recital in Granada.  Go figure the odds on that!)

Here is a photo of the street where our hotel was on and as you can see, the streets were very clean and the buildings maintained with bright colors.   We ate at many of the restaurants and had drinks at various places during the day.

We had a long talk with the receptionist and he told us when he was four years old, his family escaped over the border into Texas in the early 1980s.  He said Nicaragua was so dangerous and in Texas, they were kept in a camp for over a year.  He and his father were in one camp and his mother and sisters in another camp.  

President Reagan passed a law to allow Nicaraguans in danger, to get a green card to allow them to live in the U.S. without problems.  So basically his family moved to the Seattle area and live there.  He decided to move back to Nicaragua and said even he has problems understanding some of the Spanish after living in the U.S. for so many years.

Feb. 14 - Today was very busy.   We first took a bus to Masaya, the active volcano just outside of Granada and Managua.  We told the bus driverMasaya Volcano to stop at the front entrance and then we paid the fee for a truck to take us the three kilometers to the top of the volcano.  We hiked up the one volcano that was inactive and then I climbed 170 steps up to the top of the highest hill overlooking the volcano and into the smoking cinder cone being built up!   This volcano erupted around 1700 and lava flowed for miles around the volcano.  In 2001 the volcano had a big burp and large rocks flew out of the crater and onto the cars in the parking lot by the rim.   No one was hurt at least!  We also went to the museum to see how volcanoes work and also some of the animals the are in the area.

While I was on the top of the high hill, a tourist guide came along and was very nice.  We talked and I introduced him to Barbara later on and we asked about a tour on the lake and the islands next to Granada.  He said he was available the next afternoon and we hired him on the spot for a tour the next day!

Barbara told me she was sitting in a view spot when a woman came by and said she recognized Barbara.  She said she saw her on the ferry to Ometepe.  She and her husband were on the same boat but he and I were on the top deck, they were in the hold.   She said she was in the back being sea sick!   Well guess what, we did see her again the next day.  Read all about it on the 15th!

Next we went back to Granada and there we took a nap and suddenly heard a lot of noise.  We got up and went outside and didn't see anything.  So we walked around and suddenly on a side street, saw a parade.  We saw a man who was from Ireland and had bought a store front across from our hotel and asked him what was going on.  He laughed, said it was the parade of the poet society!   They stopped every so often and someone would read their poetry.   There were lots of great costumes and children were having a great time.  We followed the parade to the wharf and there they had fire works and lots of groups dancing in local costumes.  

Masaya - The Active Volcano


I was surprised the volcano was so active!

You could look right down into the lava pit. Here I am, good thing I am not a Virgin!

Granada Poets Parade


Shake it Baby!

Great balancing acts!

Dance of the Virgins Perhaps?

Great Costumes

Great Mermaid

Scary thing!

Feb. 15 Today we went shopping and lounged around.  We had seen most everything and were looking forward to the lake trip but the receptionIsland Tourist at our hotel said the time was rather late in the day.  We were hoping the guide, Denis, would come earlier than 3:30 or 4:00 P.M.  Well we were going out around three and Denis came by and asked if we minded having two people join us for the tour on the launch.  No we said, two more is fine.   So he took them to the boat and came back and got us.  We had to laugh, the couple was the same ones that were on the ferry to Ometepe several days before.  I recognized the husband from the ferry.  Talk about a small world. 

We toured the islands, visited a small Spanish fort and saw many expensive homes built on private islands.  There weren't many birds as it was the dry season plus they said since global warming and pollution of the lake, many birds had disappeared.  We stopped for a beer at a famous bar/restaurant and then proceeded back to our hotel and dinner.   Another great day!

Islands near Granada


Islands by Granada and an extinct volcano in the distance!

A small Spanish fort.

View of the islands.

Hanging nests of birds.

Great place for a beer!

Feb. 16 - We got up and had breakfast at the Asianlatina and the receptionist was so nice, how nice, he suddenly said, "Bad news, your room is booked and you have to leave!"  We had asked the day before about staying an extra day and he said fine.  

Well so much for that.  Suddenly we were packing our bags and hiking over to the main square to catch a bus to Leon.  Actually it worked out all right as we had seen most everything and were going to Leon anyway.  

So it took about three hours and we caught a cab to the hotel and it was fabulous.   

Hostal "La Casa Leoncsa"  

It originally was a house and had been bought around 1990 and converted into an eight room hotel, the owner also lives in the house.  Fabulous antiques and wicker chairs, a small pool to swim in and air conditioning!

Our hotel in Leon


We had breakfast on the terrace.

Great colors on the walls.

Rooms were sunny and bright.

Lots of antiques, some from Germany!

Feb. 17 - Today we walked all over town and took photos of the many churches and cathedrals.  We visited the main square and shopped there.  We then went back and took a nap and had a long conversation with the owner.  She escaped from Nicaragua in the 1970s and went toLeon Church Alabama!  There she married a German man and raised her children there.  They all live there in Alabama today!  Her husband passed away and in 1990 she came back to Leon and bought this house.  It was in very bad shape, people let the property fall apart because the Sandanistas would come in and take property away from anyone if they wanted it.  She redid the roof, put caning on the bottom, then a lining of zinc, on top of that, the red tiles.  The floors are fabulous tiles and she has a lot of old German furniture.  

She said she was Vice Mayor for a few years but there is so much corruption and many people we talked to indicated the taxes just disappear in the pockets of the politicians.  

That night we went to the Hotelito El Cedro as we had heard the chef was Canadian and had a special on Sunday night!  It was garlic mashed potatoes and roast beef and a green salad.  Well for $6.00 we had a huge plate of potatoes and meat!  Talk about a treat!  Several people would tell us when we saw them, we would have to have the special at El Cedro and we would laugh, been there, done that!

Downtown Leon

Main Square.

At least 14 Churches and Cathedrals in Leon.

Feb. 18 - Today was very hot, as was yesterday.  It was around 95 degrees or 30 degrees Celsius!  We went shopping for souvenirs but the main market was for foods.  We saw a woman cutting up beef and on the table were two hooves of a cow or bull!  Tasty!  Another woman had a basket full of live iguana and she took one out and shook it by the neck for us to take a photo.  So tasty!   There were tons of fruits and Iguana for Lunch!vegetables and then we went to another market but it mainly had dozens of shops carrying bras and women's panties.  We didn't find many things for gifts so hit the streets again and went to the main square to find some items on the side walk tables. 

We then went to the Museum of the Revolution and the man right off the bat, took a pointer and started his talk about the revolution.  Of course he didn't ask if we spoke Spanish so he went on for 20 minutes pointing out the mimeographed copies of articles and photos, all in poor condition.   The good thing was we could see dates on the articles and photos so we had a good idea as to the time and places and people involved.  

He then took us up to the top floors and then he took me to the roof where I had a good view of the city and the surrounding five active volcanoes by Leon.  Leon was originally on the lake and in the 1600s was devastated by a volcanic eruption!  You can see the volcanoes, very high and perfect shapes, a perfect cone!   

So we went back to the hotel to rest up and take a quick swim.  We then went back to the Hotelito El Cedro for our last dinner in Nicaragua before taking a taxi the next morning, to Managua and the airport.  

Marketing in Leon


A place to meet and shop and sell!

Large Papaya!

Fresh Fish

Live Iguana for dinner!

Museum of Revolution


A visit to the Museum of Revolution.

Photo copies of the revolution.

Leaving Leon - Volcanoes destroyed Old Leon in 1600!

Flying from Managua to San Salvador and on to Home!

Feb. 19 - LACSA # 716 Operated by: Sansa For Lacsa - Please check in with the operating carrier. - Managua Augusto C Sandino (MGA) to San Salvador Comalapa International (SAS). - Departure (MGA): February 19, 12:05 PM CST (afternoon).  Arrival (SAL): February 19, 1:15 PM CST

Delta Air Lines # 276 - San Salvador Comalapa International (SAL) to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson ATL (ATL)
Departure (
SAS): February 19, 2:00 PM CST (afternoon) - Arrival (ATL): February 19, 6:28 PM EST (evening)

Delta Air Lines # 1591 - Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson ATL (ATL) to San Francisco International (SFO)
Departure (
ATL): February 19, 9:59 PM EST (evening) - Arrival (SFO): February 20, 12:21
AM PST (morning)

People We Met on Our Vacation!

Barbara and I met many people of interest along the way as we back packed across Nicaragua from the south east to the north west side of the country.  They had interesting stories to tell and I have documented a few of them along the way! Read on!

This first evening on Ometepe I started to talk to a local guide as we watched a fabulous sunset over the lake. Harold, and I soon became good friends.  He talked about the difficulty of trying to be in business for ones self and I made some suggestions as to setting up a web site and so on.  The next evening Barbara and I had a long talk with him.

He said he was married and had a son and the job conditions were terrible.  Petrol was a dollar a liter so that meant $5.00 a gallon.  If he had to hire a taxi to pick up tourists, that came out of his pocket.  If he met them at a resort, the resort took a cut of out the tour.  

His favorite tour is a six hour climb to the top of the Conception Volcano and four back down.  He provides lunch for the group made by his wife.

He also provides ropes to tie people together as they climb the volcano.  So if he had multiple pickups and hosting from multiple resorts, his take was next to nothing!

He along with most of citizens we talked to said, "At least in the U.S. you actually see the taxes spent on something.  In Nicaragua the cities and the Managua Capital took in the taxes and then they disappeared.

We had a long talk with the receptionist in Granada at our hotel, the Asialatina, and he told us when he was four years old, his family escaped over the border into Texas in the early 1980s because of the Sandanistas.

He said Nicaragua was so dangerous and in Texas, they were kept in a camp for over a year.  He and his father were in one camp and his mother and sisters in another camp.  

President Reagan passed a law to allow Nicaraguans in danger, to get a green card to allow them to live in the U.S. without problems.  So his family moved to the Seattle area and live there.

He decided to move back to Nicaragua and said even he has problems understanding some of the Spanish after living in the U.S. for so many years.

I told Barbara the Asialatina Hotel sounded like a gay bar name.  She just shook her head.  I told the receptionist this and he laughed and said the owners are gay!

One from Manhattan, he said the 'white' one, about 45, and his lover, a 'black' Nicaraguan - looked around 35, owned the hotel/bar/restaurant.  The hotel was great as it was on the beaten track next to the restaurants and a block and a half to the main square and bus stops!

When I was climbing the 172 steps to the top of the Masaya Volcano between Granada and Managua, I met a guide with two people who were complaining about the climb.  They looked about 50 and I am 68 and had no problem climbing the 12 story high hill to overlook the crater with the gas steaming out of the volcano.

Denis looked peeved and let then go back down and started to talk to me.  We hit it off and walked back down after he took my photo and we met Barbara.  I suggested he could take us on the island cruise on the lake the next afternoon.

Denis said he was available and said he would check at the hotel the next day.  In the mean time Barbara had talked to a woman who saw her on the ferry to Ometepe.  Barbara didn't see her and she said she was sea sick in the back of the ferry!  

The next afternoon around three P.M. Denis came and asked if we would mind two more on the tour?  The boat holds about 16 people so we said yes.  Denis took us to the boat landing and who is there but the husband and wife that were on the ferry to Ometepe five days ago!   Such a small world.  

Denis said he was around 30 but not married.  We kidded him about that.  He said he thought I should be married at 68 and I said he was the one to be married at 30 plus.  His mother must be disappointed.  He was not amused!  P.S.  The wife did look a little pale during our boat ride at first but was fine after we stopped for a drink.

Barbara and I were looking for the bus to Leon at the bus terminal in Managua and we met Israel waiting in line for the bus.  We started to talk and he was very nice.  He said he was just coming back from working with a group from the U.S. to aid poor children.   Israel said he had just gotten married and his wife was lucky to get a job at the Ford Motor Company manufacturing parts.  

He said the work was very hard for her and they only received $25 a week.  He said the company was very strict about bread and lunch time but the income provided them with enough money to live in a small house by themselves!

He said his father had been a lawyer but abandoned the family when Israel was young.  He said many men did that in Nicaragua.  He said his mother left the country and worked in Costa Rica for ten years and had just come back to Leon.  We heard the same story from many people, they sneak over the border into Costa Rica to work and make some money.  

So to makes matters even strangers, the last day we were in Leon we went out for a walk.  We heard someone yell out, "Barbara!".   Who could that be?  It was Israel, working only a block from our hotel. He asked us to come in and talk to his class, five men and a woman.  He asked them if they could ask us a question in English.

One young man looked at Barbara and said, "What is your phone number?"  We laughed and I said he was learning fast!  I gave Israel my business card and he just wrote me an e-mail at the end of February!

The owner of the hotel in Leon was very nice and the hotel was fabulous.  It is called the Hostal "La Casa Leonesa" Nicaragua and the owner is Dora Maria Gurdian Ortiz.  

She escaped from Nicaragua in the 1970s and went to Alabama!  She told her mother there was nothing in Leon for her and her mother told her to just pack and leave!  There she married a German man and raised her children there from a previous marriage that ended in divorce.  The children and grandchildren all live in Alabama today!  

Her husband passed away and in 1990 she came back to Leon and bought this house.  It was in very bad shape, people let the property fall apart because the Sandanistas would come in and take property away from anyone if they wanted it.  

She redid the roof, put caning on the bottom, then a lining of zinc, on top of that, the red tiles.  The floors are fabulous tiles and she has a lot of old German furniture.  

She said she was Vice Mayor for a few years but there is so much corruption and many people we talked to indicated the taxes just disappear in the pockets of the politicians.

The hotel was extremely clean and we had a wonderful full breakfast every morning we were there.  

Dora also called us a cab to take us to Managua to the airport to catch our flight to San Salvador!

When we decided to go to the petroglyphs on the other side of the island of Ometepe.  We had breakfast and decided to catch a local bus along the only highway on the island of Ometepe.  The buses run about every hour so we walked up the lane to the highway and stood there, waiting for the bus.  The highway is composed of hexagon blocks and placed on a bed of sand and each block is laid by hand!  The road is two lanes wide and about 18 miles long.  This road runs from the dock to a town on the other side of the active volcano.  We had to go there and catch another bus that traveled on a gravel road to the petroglyphs beside the dormant volcano.   As we stood beside the highway, a woman about 30 came by on a bicycle.  She asked how much farther to the next town and we said she was about half way there.  She was not amused and said she had left her bags at the pier and was biking around to see where she might want to stay.  She said she was worn out all ready and was foolish to start this bike ride.  Well the road went about half way around the volcano and most of it was uphill all the way!   We passed her later and then we did catch the second bus and go to the other dormant volcano and checked out the petroglyphs.  

We came back and saw her again and she tried to flag down the bus but we were full.  In town, we thought we would have to wait for an hour or so but to our surprise, a bus was leaving immediately!  We got on and about a mile had gone by and there she was again.  This time the bus stopped and they managed to squeeze her bike onto the bus in between the passengers standing up.  Barbara had an empty space next to her and the woman sat down.  She said she was from L.A. of all places and was in Costa Rica trying to setup a day nursery for children of prostitutes.   She said the church said they would give her a room if she set up a cafe for them to make some money!   

We asked why she was in Nicaragua but all ready knew the answer.  Costa Rica has a law that after three months you have to leave the country for at least three days and have your tourist card renewed.   (The tourist card above with a date stamp is mine when we left Costa Rica to Nicaragua!)  We met several people doing this and it was a good excuse for them to take a three or more day vacation!   Nicaragua also has a time limit but it and Belize, El Salvador and Guatemala have a pact and anyone leaving any of these countries has to go to Costa Rica or some place else to renew their status, not in any of the four countries.  We were also told Costa Rica was getting irritated by foreigners who built expensive homes but wanted to live there and not pay taxes.  I guess Costa Rica was or is changing their laws that one eventually has to become a citizen and pay their fair share of taxes.   Anyway, this is basically what I heard, but may not be completely accurate.   So as they say, buyer by aware!

At our hotel on Ometepe we were watching a sunset and suddenly this pretty young woman came by and we talked.  She said she was staying at the next resort and was taking her three day trip from Costa Rica to get a newly dated tourist card.  She had a strange story.  

She said she was in Bolivia and started to run out of money!  In Bolivia?   So she traveled through Columbia, into Panama and on into Costa Rica.  There she got a job at a bar/restaurant as a waitress.  We asked if she spoke Spanish and she said not really!   She said the place was frequented mainly by Americans and Europeans who spoke English so she just learned the basic words for foods and drinks in Spanish.  

She said when she made enough money as a waitress in Costa Rica she would return to Bolivia.  Talk about a strange story.  We wondered why she would do such a thing and what would she do in Bolivia?  

So as you see, we met many interesting people along the say and actually there are other stories to tell by that would have to come at a later time!

Created on: 2008.02.22
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Updated on: 2020.10.21