Friday, September 19, 2014

Nicaragua - Part 2 - Mombatcho, Catarina, and Masaya

So - first night in Managua, second and third nights at the Surfing Turtle, and then Gerson picks us up and takes us back to Managua after another quick stop in Leon. (That was my super quick recap from Nicaragua - Part 1)

We had a really good time with Gerson - he joined us for some roadies, bought us something in Leon (puff puff) let us stop for a pee break/roadie reload, and dropped us off for sushi when we reached Managua.

                          The ride

                     The roadies

              The necessary selfie

While we were having our first sushi fix of the trip (there were three) our man Carlo called to see where we were - which ended up being at the wrong side of the city, totally out of his way to come pick us up - so he got on the phone with our waitress for a hot minute and the next thing we know, we're paying our bill and quickly following the waitress outside.
I don't know what he said to this girl, but she left her job, without asking anyone, to take us outside, walk us across the highway, and get us in a taxi that would take us where we needed to go.

We were so drunk by the time this poor girl had to deal with us

We took the taxi to the bus terminal across the street from the mall (an actual MALL, like with Radio Shack, Nine West, Kenneth Cole and escalators!) and waited there for Carlo to come get us. We went out for a few more beers, then back to his house where we stayed up drinking and talking until around 1 o'clock in the morning. (Totally inappropriate conversations)

The next morning, Carlo took Kathy golfing at some fancy place, and then he sent the two of us out with another private driver to go have a "tourist day" on our way to Granada.
That was the BEST day of the trip....

We started by going to the Mombacho Volcano - where the ride up, to about 3,940 feet, is an adventure itself.
We only walked around one of the smaller, inactive craters (there are 4, it's an "extinct" volcano with the last eruption taking place in 1570) and went to a nice look-out point to see the Apoyo Lagoon, the city of Granada, and Lake Nicaragua. None of my pictures capture how really, really cool it was up there...

A replica of Mombacho - I'm guessing we were about halfway up.

The badass truck that took us up

               The trail we walked 

The crater...again, the picture is unimpressive, but it was really cool in person. 

A cloudy view of Granada and Lake Nicaragua

If you look closely, you can see a bunch of tiny islands in the lake - we'll talk more about them later. 

After Mombacho, our driver took us to a very cute little town called Catarina, which is best known for it's amazing view of the Apoyo Lagoon.

Panoramic view - that's Mombacho you see in the distance.

We only stayed there long enough to look at some of the crafts for sale and have a beer, and then we headed to the Masaya Market for lunch. I would've liked to spend more time looking around in the market - an old fort that once housed Spanish soldiers that is now full of vendors selling locals foods, fruits and veggies, and all kind of crafts, shoes, furniture, clothing and knick-knacks - but we were on a time crunch to get to the Masaya Volcano before the park closed for the day.

Here's a picture of me outside of the Masaya Market with a lady who insisted that I buy a huge bag of cocoa powder from her.... I do so bad with pushy salespeople - she literally shoved bag after bag of cocoa into my hands until I finally agreed to buy one for $5us... and she probably would've accepted $1us if I had had a bill that small..

Now... the Masaya Volcano - probably my favorite stop during the entire trip...

"The Masaya Volcano National Park comprises an area of 54 km² and includes two volcanoes and five craters. The volcanoes have erupted several times in history, and were feared by both the indigenous people and the Spanish conquerors. The Spanish baptized the active volcano "La Boca del Infierno" or "The Mouth of Hell". They planted a cross, "La Cruz de Bobadilla" (named after Father Francisco Bobadilla), on the crater lip in the 16th century in order to exorcise the Devil."
"....The eruptions have had a dramatic impact on the surroundings. Rocks and volcanic ashes still cover the area surrounding the volcanoes. The nature is rough yet peaceful. Different types of vegetation appeared after the eruptions. The park is also inhabited by many different kinds of animals. The park's wildlife includes coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, deer, iguanas, and monkeys.
Visitors can peek over the edge at the Masaya Volcano, and look into the impressive crater, which is continuously emitting smoke and sulfur gases. From this central crater it is possible to start hiking to other craters or viewpoints. Be sure to walk a bit up to get a view of the smoking volcano and the fascinating surroundings...."

A replica of Masaya Volcano - keep thinking about those little islands in Lake Nicaragua I mentioned earlier - they were formed from lava spilling out of this volcano! 
Driving up to the top - a field full of old lava rocks and the sky getting dark with smoke and sulfer gases.

At the top - that cross, La Cruz de Bobadilla

You also have to park your car facing the exit so you can haul ass out of there if you need to

Smoke so thick you can barely see the other side

Picture time!

Here it is.... Much, much bigger than the picture makes it look.

Looking down at the field covered in lava rocks.

I've seen volcanoes before, from a distance, though, so it was just super awesome for me to experience this one up close and personal. 

I was going to add our trip over to the Islets of Granada to this post, but I think this one is already long enough. Look forward to my next post, Nicaragua - Part 3 - coming SOON :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Nicaragua - Part 1 - Managua, León, Isla Los Brasiles

I feel bad for not visiting friends and family in the States this year, but I totally blame Belize's flight prices for my decision. A round trip ticket back to Philly would've cost me over $800 - a round trip ticket to Managua, Nicaragua only cost me $495.... So, here I am, and here's what I've been doing for the past 5 days:

The first night was spent at a private home in Managua, not far from the airport. A friend of a friend sent his driver, Edmundo, to pick me and Kathy up and take us to his home where his maid was waiting for us. (The kindness of strangers always amazes me) 
We didn't get there until around 10:30pm, were in bed by midnight (only so the maid could go to sleep) and then were picked up again by his driver by 6am. Edmundo brought his brother along so we could try to communicate better since we no habla espanol. 

The ride was only about an hour or so long to get to Leon and they let is stop to take some pictures of Lake Managua and a volcano called Momotombo.

We met our second driver, Gersen, in front of the largest cathedral in Central America - the Cathedral of León. 

We had about a 20-25 minute ride from there to a coastal town called Poneloya, where we then took a canoe over to a small motor boat, and then to a cart lead by a donkey over the The Surfing Turtle Lodge on Isla Los Brasiles. 

This place, and it's staff, were super awesome - totally secluded, off the grid, and run by solar power - it's a great place to do some surfing (if you're experienced) or just chill out in a hammock. They also have super friendly dogs and cats around that will totally come into your room and snuggle with you, if you allow it 

We got there around 8:30am and started drinking beer while waiting to check in to our semi-private room. By 9:45 we were having shots of tequila.... and we kept going until about 4pm. We finally put our things away, got changed, and then convinced our bartender, Anna, to go back over to Poneloya to drink at a bar there. 

Here's what we look like after about 9 straight hours of drinking - I don't know how my headband got all inside out and backwards, but check out these smiles!

We stayed over there until after dark and missed the last donkey ride over to the lodge so we had to walk after taking the canoe across and, of course, I wasn't wearing shoes, so I ended up stepping on something and having to hobble the rest of the way. 
We continued drinking until about 8pm and then quietly snuck away and went to our room to pass out. 

The following day was obviously a recovery day, even though we were, surprisingly, not very hung over. (We are CHAMPS) 
We asked if we had become obnoxious or annoying and were told that we handled ourselves incredibly well and just got more and more giggly as the night went on. (Anyone that knows us knows how completely accurate that sounds)

We caught a great sunset that night - 

Our last morning there was spent having a few more beers and one more shot of tequila, and taking a few pictures before heading out

We went back over to the bar in Ponteloya and waited for Gersen to pick us up, and that's where my next blog will pick up from. I feel like we've done LOTS more in the past two days - now I just have to go through all my pictures and decide which ones I'm sharing with you. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Welcome to Home #9

So, yeah - I'm on my NINTH home in the three+ years that I've been living in Belize... 

Home number one was a hotel for a month, then I moved to a place that I could no longer afford once my roommate moved back to the States. Home number three was a decent apartment that I left when I moved over to the mainland to live with my husband in home number four. 
Home number five was a guest room that someone down south on Ambergris Caye generously let me stay in for five months before I moved into a crappy place in San Pedrito for a bit. 
Home seven was my Love Shack at the Barrel Bar, and home eight was a very short stay at Reef Village. 

I only get two months here at home number nine - and it's so cute and *almost* perfect, I wish I could stay longer...

I'm really hoping that I can stay in home number ten for at least a year or so, this moving around business is getting old. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Just Some Dreadlock Love

I know that sooooo many of you have been wondering - "How are Carrie's dreads looking these days?"

Well, ponder no longer - they turned 2 back on June 28th, and here's whats goin on:



Friday, August 8, 2014

Bar Crawl up North - Could You Do It?

I went for another long ass walk yesterday (7.49 miles, according to my pedometer) and took note of all of the bars I passed along the way... and now I think someone should try to hit all of them in one day and report back to me about how far you made it.

Here's a list of your stops - I'm only including the ones that are right on the beach, which leaves out a few, nice roadside bars, but that's ok, we have plenty to work with.

Coco Locos is the first one you come to on the north side of the bridge, located in the condo complex of Villas del Rio, followed by Kama Lounge right next door, and then Feliz Bar and Grill in The Cloisters.

Jolly Roger's Beach Bar, one of my absolute favorite bars, is next, but they're closed until someone new takes over and reopens it. (I think Claire will still be selling her special edibles, so that's good!)

The Palapa Bar and Grill is about a 15 minute walk from Jolly Rogers, followed by AkBol - my most recent go-to place for a cold beer and affordable meal (try the Salbutes or the Falafel Burger)

                                                            Luna also enjoys AkBol

The sexy, swim up bar at Grand Caribe is next... You might not want to spend too much time drinking at the fancy resorts if you're budgeting this bar hop, the prices increase the further north you get. (Don't worry, there will still be some bars that have $5.00bz beers and local rum drinks)

I've never been to Lazy Croc BBQ, but I hear good things about it and they have a sign on the beach, so they get a spot on my list.

Aji Tapa Bar and Restaurant is your next stop - I've only been there once on a dinner "date," and I remember a romantic atmosphere (soft music, candles) but it's totally fine to stop by there all sweaty in the afternoon and drink a beer. Maybe clean yourself up a bit if you're going to go back for dinner.

There's a bar open to the public at White Sands Cove Resort that you can check out - they have a Happy Hour sign on the beach (Happy Hour 1-5 Daily) and then pop on over to Capricorn Resort, Restaurant, and Bar for your next one.

It might be hard to continue bar hopping once you make your stop at Captain Morgan's Retreat - the pools are great and it's cool to just stay there all day, swimming, drinking, eating... but keep going, you still have another three and a half miles to go.

I'm not completely sure if the bar at Coco Beach Resort is still open to the public or not, but you're going in, anyway. Same deal with Belizean Shores Resort, just stop in real quick and get a roadie, because you won't get to the next bar until you reach the O Restaurant at Las Terrazas Resort and Residences. 

           Dinner Special - Indian. 
I spent too much time wondering, "Indian what?? Curry? Kofta? Samosa??" 
It still bothers me. Even, "Indian Food" would work for me....

Moving right along, you've got stops at Rendezvous Restaurant and Winery, the bar at Ambergris Divers Resort, and then, another one of my favorites, the Rojo Lounge


                   Ambergris Divers

                    Rojo Lounge

By now, you should be drunk - but if you want to keep going for about one more mile, you can stop at Matachica Resort and Spa (expensive) Jambel's Jerk Pit (looks shadey, therefor, awesome) and then the beautiful and friendly (and also slightly expensive) Portofino Beach Resort, where you're welcome to enjoy your drinks at the pool.

That's, like, 22 bars right there - make sure you drink some water while attempting this challenge, and let me know how you do :)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Places I've Never Been Before

I mentioned in my last post that I recently finished working a really fun, awesome charter. We went to some of our regular spots - the Drowned Cayes, Caye Caulker, and San Pedro - but we also made some new (for me) stops along the way...

Coral Gardens
I'm sure we've stopped here plenty of times before, it's just a bit north of Caye Caulker, but I was probably either cooking lunch or cleaning up and didn't have time to check it out.
This time, though, I had all of my work done and I decided to jump in and do some snorkeling.. and some floating:

Sergeant's Caye
Sergeant's Caye looks more like a little sand bar than an island - but, apparently, there used to be a little more to it until a hurricane came and took out the palm trees and small outhouse that was there

Bannister Bow Caye
Recently purchased, Bannister Caye is now a private island and outside guests are no longer welcome to visit the property - I don't know if it will ever re-open to the public and cruise ship guests or not, all I could find out about it was that a caretaker was murdered there in 2009
Can someone just hire me to go out to remote islands and find out what their deal is - PLEASE?

Unknown Caye
Ok, I'm sure someone knows the name of this little island that is just on the other side of Bannister, but I have no idea what it is or what's going on there. It looks private to me, but I didn't get close enough to check out the entire property. I could see two or three big houses, what looks like a caretaker's house, a dock with palapa, and I noticed a wind turbine...
Again, can someone please just hire me to go to remote little islands to find out what their deal is?!?

Does anyone else know anything about these cayes??