Anne and her husband Mike have been traveling slowly through Central America over the past 2.5 years, doing freelance graphic design and SEO work as they go. Though most of their days involve a good deal of client work, sometimes they take a week to go play. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Anne and Mike in Nicaragua.
8am: We’re in León, Nicaragua. Like usual, I woke up to an “empty” room. Mike is an early riser, so he gets up and goes outside for breakfast and coffee in the garden. So by “empty” I mean, it was just Yoland and me. Well, that part’s a secret. Yolanda is the cat that lives at the guesthouse. She’s not allowed in the rooms, but the windows don’t have screens and she usually sneaks in at night. If we don’t “see” her in the room, we don’t have to toss her back out, right?
10am: Checked in on work. We’re both in the process of wrapping up a couple of client projects before we can take the rest of the week off. Mike and I tried to joke about an incident yesterday when we both nearly drowned in a riptide. It was a little bit too soon. We’re still feeling a little shaken up.
12pm: We just packed our bags and are waiting for the guesthouse owners, R & M, to come back home. We’re catching a ride with them back down to Granada. They need to pick up some books from a bookstore down there, and we need to go to Granada catch a bus south to a town called Rivas.
4pm: We just got back from an afternoon lounging by a pool in Granada. Though we had spent a month living in Granada before going to León, we had no idea there were pool clubs. We paid a few dollars to have access to a beautiful pool and garden… and bar with a hearty snack menu. Mike was enamored by the ducks that were swimming in the pool next to him.
7pm: Just hung up all of our laundry on the clothesline. I love when hostels have a washing machine. I hope it won’t rain while we’re out at dinner. See also: The Perfect Travel Capsule Wardrobe for Women
8:30pm: Needing a break from the usual beans and rice, Mike and I had dinner with R & M at El Camello, the Middle Eastern restaurant in Granada. Generally, Mike thinks a food is delicious if it punches him in the face with spicy heat. This place has lots of dishes that have punched him in the face.
6am: We give up. We’re getting up. The churches in Nicaragua set off cannons through out the day, and it usually starts around 4am. We have been experiencing this since Guatemala, but never quite so loud as today. Note to self: in the future, don’t stay at a hostel that’s next to a church.
10am: Mike is off trying to schedule a shuttle ride south to Rivas. We only have 1 cell phone, so I don’t know the status.
11am: Mike just got back to the hostel. No luck with the shuttle.
2pm: R & M gave us a ride to the bus station. We just climbed in the back of a Camioneta (aka chicken bus, aka refurbished school bus from the US) as it was pulling away – which is generally how we’ve boarded busses in Nicaragua. We each paid 2 fares: one for our butts and one for our bags.
4pm: Arrived in Rivas and worked our way out of the crazy bus station. People left and right were offering to carry our bags and drive us places. All of them were a little sketchy. So we found a legitimate taxi and even though we had to run for the last 100 yards, we made it on to the ferry just before it left. This must be how we’re traveling today.
5pm: Landed on Ometepe Island in the town of Moyogalpa and hailed a tuk-tuk to our hostel.
9am: Despite our promises not to, we still did a little bit of work today. Sometimes you just have to check in. The wristband on my watch broke. I’m brainstorming a way to fix it.
10am: We rented bikes went to Punto Jesus Maria – a tiny peninsula made of black sand that extends invisibly out into the dark lake. They say when you walk out in the inch-deep water, it’s like you’re walking on water. They’re right about that. There were signs near the peninsula that warned of rip currents. We took heed.
3pm: The afternoon thunderstorms are rolling in. Intense! Awesome!
5pm: We walked down the road to dinner. It is unbelievable that despite the washout, the cow poop is still thick on the road.
10am: We’re crammed on a bus with our bags headed to the other side of the island.
12pm: We arrived at our hotel and met our host, Mister Chicken.
2pm: We rented bikes and rode to El Ojo de Agua, a natural spring and fountain of youth. It sure was refreshing, but I still feel 34.
6pm: Dinner at the hotel was held in the big screened-in patio and was surprisingly delicious! I had no idea black bean soup could so good. There was only one other English-speaking couple there.
10pm: We tucked in to a big puffy bed. A rare treat!
9am: We headed down to the lakeshore for a swim. One of the urban legends in Nicaragua is that the lake is full of sharks that seek out human flesh – ever since all of the bodies were dumped in the lake during the revolution. I believe the part about the bodies, but not the sharks. Either way, we haven’t been eaten yet.
12pm: Still on the beach, actually. After swimming and building sand castles, we headed down the beach to grab a bite to eat. I had planned ahead by stashing a little cash in my zipper-pocket underpants – which I often wear as a bathing suit. We found a little hut with a sign that said “vegetariana,” so stopped in and ordered a bowl of lentil soup and a smoothie to share. The soup was full of tiny ants. Mike was more meticulous than I was about picking them out.
2pm: Second lunch at our hotel. Apparently I can’t get enough of this black bean soup.
8pm: At last! I had a Skype date with a friend. I was relegated to hovering around outside the kitchen where the wifi signal was strongest, but still not strong enough to stream video.
11am: We flagged down and hopped on collectivo bus with several locals. Among the passengers were supplies such as a bucket of fish, big sacks of grains, and rebar running the length of the aisle. Everyone works together to help each other move people and supplies on and off the bus, occasionally through the windows.
12pm: We hopped off the bus in Balgue at a café that had gourmet food and a couple of rustic guest rooms in the back. Lunch was amazing! And the café has a clay water filter accessible for everyone to fill up their bottles. I love that!
1pm: We check in to our room. Gasp! It is really rustic. I am wondering if the roof will be able to sustain the torrential rains.
3pm: Went for a walk to a finca to see some petroglyphs. Met people camping in a VW bus. They’re from Argentina and are on their way to Alaska. She was embarrassed that her bras were hanging from the trees drying. I showed her the silicon pee funnel that I carry. We were totally even.
3:30pm: I bought a bracelet from a local artist so that I could to sew my watch face to it. Watch band problem: solved!
6am: Woke to the sound of pigs squealing. Given our conversations with the owner yesterday about the damage pigs do to his water system, we knew we had to act fast so we both shot out of bed and chased the pigs from the back yard. No time to put on clothes.
7am: More squealing. As it turned out, there was another pig being slaughtered across the road. That’s a sight to see first thing in the morning.
8am: The owner arrived and prepared an amazing breakfast that was like huevos rancheros but up about 16 notches, and complete with freshly squeezed orange juice and amazing coffee.
1pm: We headed out with the owner on a kayak trip in the mangroves. Beautiful! But towards the end, we had to paddle hard to make it back before the afternoon storm rolled in. We made it! Phew!
4pm: Mike wanted to shower before dinner, so we both explored the bathroom together. The shower stall had a curtain, but in order to get to the shower, he had to step over an anthill that was 6 inches high and 2 feet long. He wore his sandals.
7pm: We had dinner tonight at the café with other travelers. It was great to hear about how other people have been experiencing the island.
After 2.5 years on the road, Anne and Mike have recently returned to their homeland – Denver, Colorado, United States. They plan to have Denver as a home base through the summer and fall, but will be southbound as soon as the weather turns. Anne recently published The Modern Nomad’s Backpack: A Guide to Packing Light for Round the World Travel, and she’s excited to have wrapped up a personal project: a deck of cards for travelers that functions as both Spanish flash cards and a poker deck. Check out their adventures in Central America and the US at viajaryamar.com.