I love these recap post and everyone slowly adding their trip photos onto facebook, I feel like I’m reliving last week all over again, at least for a few moments.  Then I go to analyze data and remember that I’m back to lab, sigh.

Originally when planning the trip to Costa Rica, traveling to Nicaragaua never crossed my mind, but when the opportunity presented itself it seemed like the perfect idea. Originally I thought the tour of the country would involve a bit more physical activity, hike up to a volcano, exploration of money island.  But once a bunch of 60/70 year olds from Texas climbed onto the bus I knew it was going to be more of a bus tour.  And while the trip wasn’t what I had expected it was still an enjoyable day.

After an interesting breakfast which included some odd looking bright yellow butter, and a bus change after lots of complaints on the size of the first bus by the older tourist, we were on our way to the Nicaraguan border.

Border crossing took about an hour.  Apparently there is only one place to cross from Costa Rica to Nicaragua.  We were further delayed by a switch in shift of the border control officers, they work 3 days in a row and then switch shifts, crazy!

Once safely in Nicaragua we stopped into a local grocery store for a bathroom break and to pick up snacks, the toilet at the border charged, we headed to a lagoon which formed years after a volcano became in active.

We then headed to Masaya for lunch, I ordered the grill chicken which came out on a hot stone. The chicken was pretty good and I was also able to get a nice steam facial.

We stayed in the area for about an hour to shop and explore.  The market sold a lot of handicrafts, many similar to those I found in Peru last year, so apart from some coffee we ditched the shops and did a little exploring.  To be honest I didn’t feel completely safe in the area so we stayed in a 5 block radius of the market place.

We then headed to Granada, the oldest city in the America’s, founded in 1524. Just a 10 minute or so drive from Masaya, but a completely different vibe.  The area was much further developed and targeted to the American tourist, with nearly everything in English first, Spanish second, there was even a Hotel America.  While Masaya was clearly poverty ridden, Granada didn’t seem too commercialized, and while we were only there for a short day I had trouble finding a Nicaraguan identity. Maybe due to a relatively recent political unrest? or the multiethic population?  Or maybe I needed to visit the capital city were a 1/4 of the population lives.  I mean I think you can clearly sum up Costa Ricans by the saying “Pura Vida”-meaning “This is living” or “cool” or “awesome.” Their people are incredibly nice and very laid back.  But I don’t know about the Nicaraguans.

Perhaps Nicaragua will be on my list to visit again if I find myself in Honduras, but for now I’m going to have to do some reading on the country.  I find their history quite interesting and know that at one point they were quite prosperous, I just want to know in further detail how they fell so far.  The tour guide probably went over a lot of this-like Nicaragua was suppose to be the site of the canal but after possible volcanic activity the project was moved to Panama, but beyond this fact I was only able to catch a few words here and there.  To be honest he was quite monotone, which suited for sleeping more than listening. 😦

We ended the day with a boat tour of Lake Nicaragua and Monkey Island.  The lake was pretty cool with about 365 islands throughout the lake.  Most of the islands are developed with housing properties ranging from 175,000 to 3 million dollars.  How cool would it be to own a house and island for only 175,000 dollars?!?

Monkey island was kind of a sad story.  Monkeys which were at one time pets were let go on this tiny little island in the middle of the lake.  They survive by eating some plants grown on the island but for the most part have to depend on local fisherman and such for most sustenance.

Anyhow, lots more pictures, many thanks again to Ryan’s awesome photography so rather than another long post I put them into a slideshow, enjoy!

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