Day 7: Public Buses and a Ferry ride in Nicaragua

20141216_072848 red and white public service bus in Granada,  Nicaragua An early start carrying our packs through Granada’s busy market – even at 7am it is bustling.  The bus station is at the bottom end of the market and as we approached a man came out asking if we were going to Rivas and guided us to the bus. We were excited to see that we would travel on one of the old rickety, 1950s old style school buses which have so much character.  We watched carefully as our bags were loaded on the roof and tied on tight and then climbed on board.  It was lucky we had arrived early to get a seat as the bus soon filled up with people and chickens! The man who had guided us to the bus turned out to be some sort of public announcement system; he stayed with us the whole way calling out the names of each stop and loading and unloading deliveries in different places.  During the two hour journey, more and more people piled on, squashed down the aisle, people selling plantain chips and nuts also climbed on, pushed through the crush of people and exited out the back.  It would certainly be a mission to get off at a stop so we were glad that we were going to a terminus station.

Yellow bus at Rivas bus stationRivas bus station was manic and some of the girls found it totally overwhelming and scary.  As soon as the bus pulled in, in fact, even before it stopped, people were jumping on offering taxis to San Jorge.  We had been told that “Eduardo” would be there to meet us so sat tight as the bus emptied.  Then a man tapped me on the shoulder and pointed at the bus in front and said “San Jorge autobus” I started to say “No, gracias” when he said “Estais con Eduardo?” I said yes and he said that Eduardo had called him to meet us and make sure we got on the right bus.  I was unsure – my instinct now is to be circumspect but he assured me that he was telling the truth and since the bus was clearly marked and we would probably have got it anyway we climbed aboard and accepted his help.

travellers boarding a small car ferry. The weather is fine with blue sky. The travelers are carrying heavy back packs. Ten minutes later and apart from the splendid view of Ometepe’s two volcanoes in the distance we could have been at any short ferry terminal any where in the world. We could see Concepcion standing tall wearing it’s cap of cloud and it was difficult to believe that this was a lake and not a sea especially since the wind was causing quite big waves to lap the sides of the boat.l The crossing was was very pleasant – I love going on ferries especially when it is warm and I can sit as high up as possible and watch my destination getting closer – the promise of what is to come is delicious!

Two volcanoes seen across a lake. The one to the left taller than that to the right.

Moyogalpa is essentially a one street town but it is the biggest on the island and actually bigger than we had expected.  It is a bustling port with everything that goes with that; industry mixed with tourism and as soon as we landed the hawks descended.  They offered taxis, tours, accommodation but we had our accommodation sorted and only needed to walk a short way up the hill to the Hotelito Aly.

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What a strange little place! And it gets stranger the longer we stay here and interact with the owners who seem to own a fair chunk of the commercial outlets in the town!  As I already mentioned, we had expected Ometepe to be a small island with a couple of settlements, a few hostels and some food outlets.  So a bustling little town full of tourism was a bit of a surprise.  Ometepe was formed by the two volcanoes – Concepcion at 1600m is still active and vents every few years, Maderas at 1300m is inactive so the vegetation on  the two halves of the island is quite different.a view from a hotel balcony in Moyogalpa, Ometepe.  Tin roofs of buildings in the foreground lead to the majestic Volcan Concepcion with a cap of cloud on its summit in an otherwise blue sky

Anyway back to the hotel which has definitely seen better days, its cleanliness is of dubious quality, but it is a roof over our heads and a space to meet and I do have a fairly spectacular view from my balcony! Unusually for a Hispanic country everything shuts up shop at 5pm which makes shopping for supplies difficult when we go out early and are not back before 5pm.

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This evening we finally met up the elusive “Everywhere and nowhere man” Eduardo.  We are sure that he must be involved in some sort of covert operation under the guise of being the man who knows everyone and has a finger in every pie. It is clear that he has an agenda and that despite there being some element of choice for our trek on our World Challenge information sheets, in reality we were going to do what suited Eduardo! After some heated debate and it was “agreed” that we would climb Concepcion the following day.

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