Jiquilillo – Potosí

I had checked with Ernesto as to when the buses left and which one to take to continue on to Potosí, my next port of call. He recommended taking the 7.30 am bus as it would be the best for connecting to the Potosí bus. As Nicaraguan buses don’t always run to an exact timetable, this meant being ready on the roadside closer to 7 am in case one missed the bus.

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As it was the bus came five minutes late and I hoicked my pack and self on board. Half an hour later, after slowly traversing the rutted road I came in on before, I got off where the bus turned on the main road to go to Chinandega. I had an hour to wait on the roadside bench which gave me plenty of opportunity to watch the passing traffic and all that prevailed. People came by in cars, on motorbikes and on horseback. A battalion of harvesting machines came by in two batches; each with one hombre driving and one hombre perched atop. A bus drove past with its interior packed full of people and its rooftop packed full of cargo; including one very unimpressed looking black sheep tethered to the struts.

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Finally, my bus arrived and I jumped on board. I managed to score a window seat as the bus wasn’t overly full for a change. After about an hour, the bus turned off the main road and slowly made its way through the Reserva Natural Volcán Cosiguina. If I thought the road to Jiquilillo was bad, this was considerably worse. At one stage, more than half the road had been washed away and an aged tree with low hanging branches on the other side meant the driver really had to use his skills. As we lumbered slowly past tiny communities, one caught glimpses of everyday Nicaraguan life from the discomfort of one’s seat. All the while with the majestic Volcán Cosiguina overseeing the commotion. This used to be the largest volcano in Central America at over 3000 m, but El Volcán decided to blow its stack big time in 1835; the effects of which were far reaching. Nowadays it sits at a more modest 872 m which hardly earns bragging rights in this neck of the woods.

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The bus kept filling and the temperature kept rising. Due to the slow movement of the bus, little airflow was available to provide any relief. Thus, one sat crammed into one’s seat hard up against the bus window stewing in one’s juices for the better part of an hour until we finally made it into the tiny fishing pueblo of Potosí. By this stage, I was grateful to escape my ‘sauna on wheels’ and get some air. The air outside may have been fresher but no less uncomfortable. The sun beat down relentlessly from atop a dead calm sky. Everywhere was hot, dry and dusty. I found lodgings for the night and decided to poke around the pueblo.

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Potosí ended up being mainly one long dirt track echoing the curve of the beach, with a couple of adjacent tracks back up to the main paved road into town. I found the coast at the end of one of these tracks and had a brief wander over its pebbly volcanic beach. Potosí sits near the tip of the remote Cosiquina Peninsular and faces the Golfo de Fonseca. From the shore, one can see the neighbouring countries of Honduras and El Salvador on the other side of the gulf. Colourful fishing boats and ram-shackled wooden casas lined the beach, and a bright blue and yellow Nicaraguan Navel vessel sat out to sea.

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Wandering back up the other track to the road, I passed a shady pool filled with locals cooling off from the searing heat. In Nicaragua, the locals generally go swimming fully clothed, so that’s what I did! I had stumbled upon the famous Potosi hot springs I had read about in the guidebook and not a minute too soon. I put my daypack somewhere inconspicuous, but where I could see it from the pool, and jumped in. The slightly warm water, shaded by giant leafy trees, was pure bliss and I spent the better part of an hour there.

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I had intended to organise a guided walk up to and around the rim of nearby Volcán Cosiguina and made inquiries from a nearby small hotel. It seemed that the 2 – 3 hours quoted in the guidebook was one way only and I would need to be walking 6 hours in seating heat! Aside from the fact that I didn’t trust my knees to uphold their part of the deal, the idea of trekking for that long in this brutal heat was what really put me off, so decided against it. What I did decide upon though, was purchasing a chilled cerveza and availing myself of a mighty comfortable hammock under an obliging fan. And here I whiled away the next hour until things started to finally cool down a little.

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I decided to have a little wander around what there was of the town. It would seem from the reaction of the locals, especially the children, that not many travellers get up this far. It was interesting to explore this little remote part of Nicaragua. The whole place had a strong community feel about it and it was lovely seeing the interactions between its members. As I passed one particular shack on the sandy track, I noticed a racoon tethered to a post. As I had never seen a racoon before, I stopped to have a look. The señora of the casa came over and told me his name was Pancita – Little Pancho. I didn’t ask if I could pat it. From its frantic pacing I decided the last thing I needed was a bite from a potentially rabid racoon.

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I returned to the hotel I had had my siesta at for a most tasty meal of fresh pan fried fish. This, hands down, is my favourite dish at the moment. Especially with the smell of the sea in the air. It doesn’t make sense to eat anything else and the Nicaraguan señoras sure know a thing or two about pan frying fish. Que delicioso!

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