Puerto Cabezas – Juigalpa

Morning dawned and the wind blew. And blew. I knew I was travelling on a small plane back to Managua, so prayed it would be able to take off in these high winds. My friendly attendant at the airport assured me that the plane would be ok so I went through to the ‘Departure Lounge’ and waited. All the while, the wind was cranking it up outside. Just before the scheduled departure time, the flight was called by a señora at the door and we handed over our boarding passes (in numerical order) as we passed through the door and down a dirt track to the tarmac where our twin turbo prop plane patiently waited. I was expecting a 10-12 seater, but it looked like they had pulled out the big guns and sent a 48 seater over.

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We took off and for about half an hour had magnificent aerial views of the coast, turquoise lagoons and the immediate hinterland. Unfortunately, we then flew into cloud cover for about another 20 mins, so visibility was limited. When the clouds cleared though, a spectacular vista presented itself in the form of a fern green blanket, shadowed in folds with jade and emerald. Little pueblos sprinkled in the valleys provided golden florets embroidered with trailing tendrils. All the while the soft hum of the prop engines provided the soundtrack to this magnificent scene.

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All too soon we landed and after collecting my pack, I caught a taxi to the terminal where the bus I needed left from. By walking across the road and hailing down a local taxi instead of taking the airport taxi, it cost me USD2 instead of USD25. I found a bus heading to Juigalpa and settled in for the journey. We skirted the edge of Lago de Managua then began heading east, past grassy fincas lining the edges of smaller lakes and dams and rising into the rolling hills. We eventually starting driving through the beautiful Serranía Amerrisque and the bus climbed steadily through the picturesque mountains.

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I was expecting the trip to take four hours and was pleasantly surprised it find it only took three. I used maps.me to work out where to get off the bus without having to go all the way to the terminal. This is the first trip I’ve really used this handy little app and am using it more and more. It certainly is a game changer for modern travelling! The first hotel I tried had no rooms available so went next door and found one with shared bathroom for US11 which did me nicely.

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Pack dumped, I wandered over to Parque Central which was around the corner. I found a pretty plaza with flowering plants nestled under shady trees and locals draped over parque benches enjoying the late afternoon solitude. All of a sudden, the serenity was smashed by an hombre beating one of the cathedral bells with a piece of metal. His head was inside the bell and he was striking the side of it with all his might. After changing arms and eventually exhausting the other, another hombre stepped in to take his place. This continued for a good few minutes with the two hombres taking turns to strike the bell. One can only imagine how loud it must have been inside that bell as it was being struck and I’m certain it wouldn’t have done either señor’s hearing any good at all.

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I wandered over to a small restaurant overlooking the cathedral and watched the passing parade of locals. A large Dutch tour group who were travelling Nicaragua and Costa Rica ended up sharing my space. I ended up chatting to a few of them before calling it a night.

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