Matagalpa – Siuna

After a tasty breakfast and good coffee at the hostel, I tramped back up the hill to begin my long overland trip to the Caribbean coast. I knew I had to catch a bus to Rio Blanco and from there, another to Siuna where I planned to spend the night and continue the last 12 hour leg the following day. I managed to get a half decent seat and sat back to enjoy the beautiful countryside roll past for the next four hours.

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In Rio Blanco, the bus pulled up at a small, squalid terminal which in no way reflected the beauty of its setting. The only other bus at the terminal had Siuna painted on its front and I confirmed that was its destination before hopping on. I misunderstood when the bus was leaving so had sat for some time in my cramped seat before realising we weren’t leaving anytime soon. I did the Central American seat reservation with my jacket and water bottle and jumped off to straighten my legs while I still could.

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Eventually it was time for the bus to pull out and about half an hour down the road I was informed that this particular bus wasn’t going to Siuna, but to Mulukuku. Despite me checking in Rio Blanco! I seems that if a bus is heading in the general direction you want to go, you get on and jump off to connect to another bus. And that, good folks, is why it takes forever sometimes to travel places on local transport. There wasn’t much else to do but sit back and enjoy the passing countryside until I had to get off.

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We pulled into a small pueblo and this evidently was where I needed to get off. My next bus to Siuna was patiently waiting on the side of the road on a most intangible angle for getting on, fully laden with pack. I found out I needed to wait another hour before it left so went to seek out a baño. My queries left the locals in the tiny roadside tiendas bemused and eventually led me to an old señora who agreed to let me use her loo. I followed her across the small wooden planked room to a door where beyond lay a steep set of stairs leading to a small backyard. The señora told me to go down the steps and the baño was at the back of the yard. I carefully stepped past pigs snuffling in the thick mud and ducked under a washing line, laden with damp clothes to find the tiny drop baño atop a wooden ledge. No door was available to offer any privacy, but one couldn’t be choosy under such circumstances. I did what I came to do, then pushed away the fat pink pig who came up to investigate. Ducking back under the washing line and managing to avoid the worst of the mud and getting eaten by pigs, I returned to the street relieved. I gave the señora some Córdoba for her kindness and continued my wait.

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It was eventually time to leave this quaint little pueblo and continue on the next leg of my journey. As we drove deeper into the Cordillera Isabelia the vistas from the bus window were reward enough for the long journey. This is one of the most remote parts of Nicaragua and poverty and subsistence is a way of life for many of the people who live here. The condition of the road reflected the lack of infrastructure developed in the region and it was a slow journey to Siuna.

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It was dark by the time we eventually arrived at my day one destination and I made enquiries as to my final long leg the next day. I approached a trio of señores at a small wooden counter and asked about the bus to Puerto Cabezas. They were not very receptive to assisting me and I had to wait patiently while they had their conversation to continue with my query. It turned out that the bus I needed left at 4.30 am so it would be a very early start in the morning. I enquired about nearby hotels and was told there was one out the front of the bus terminal.

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I walked out and over the road and found the little hotel. The first room they showed me was a 2 x 3 m cell with no fan for USD6.50. It was a hotbox so they took me to another which was USD10 but had a fan and a bathroom of sorts. There was no restaurant attached the hotel, nor was there anywhere to eat in the little pueblo. I got some water for the following day, had a wash in the metre high tap in the bathroom and had an early night ready for my 4 am start in the morning.

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