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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Laguna de Apollo - swimming in a volcanic crater. Visiting Masaya & San Juan de Oriente for a pottery class.

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We arrived late - just as the sun was setting across the laguna.
We were famished as we had no lunch, so as we were at a French owned hostel, we naturally ordered crepes.
They told us to head for the lakeside bar.
There I ordered a glass of wine. But I was told they did not serve wine.  when I said I found that strange, I was told that only French wine was good, and so they refused to sell the South and Central American wines.
So I had to settle for a Pina Colada instead.

So we sat and read for a while in the swinging chairs.
As the sun set across the warm water we were busting to go for a swim.
now anyone who knows me, also knows I detest swimming in cold water.
So it was a delight that after dinner, we donned our swimsuits and floated out in the rubber tubes.
As we enjoyed the warmth of the 28oC water, we noticed areas like hot pools under us - just lovely.
I looked up and saw the first of the stars.
We were surrounded by a volcano.
We were swimming in a volcanic lake, in a crater - just incredible.
It was one of "those moments".
I had a lovely hug in the water with my son.
We then floated in the tubes, and swam and had a great time.

And I think we must have stayed in there for 2 hours.
I can see why this hostel is called Hostal Paradiso - this area really is paradise.

 We had a shared bathroom and a pretty basic room, but really when you are at a place like this, you don't spend hours in your room.
In fact, we both woke early - at about 5.30 a.m. and headed down to watch the sunrise over the lagoon.
As I sipped my coffee, I knew that this place was just what I needed.

We had been over our $60 a day budget of late, so we decided to head to the local store.
I bought a bottle of Chile wine, and some snacks and milk and cereals.
We were set for the next few days.
Well so I thought until we returned to the hostel, only to find that the power had failed in the area.
In fact the failure lasted til midnight, and then again 1 day later.  More on that in another blog.
By lunch-time we were back in the laguna, enjoying the warm water and the restful life.
Along came our friends from their hotel in Granada for the day.
We also met two lovely ladies who had just spent 4 & 6 weeks in El Salvador, so that was great as we learnt so much from them.
The kids enjoyed the pontoon, and as guests we had free use of the tubes and kayaks.

 As the afternoon drew to a close we felt a storm coming in.
Our friends had returned to Granada - we were parting ways for a while.
I headed back for a swim in the rain.
There was a dull rainbow in the sky.

We then sat and read with our chairs semi submerged in the lagoon.
Slowly they would sink.
It was a weird feeling - as most of the sinking was backwards.

That night we purchased crepes again.  We had bought dinner to cook, but with no electricity it was impossible to see what I was doing.
The kitchen however had gas and there were kerosene lamps around the bar.
My son enjoyed learning how to light them with the bar tender.

Next morning we decided not to wait for the local bus.
We wanted to explore - we knew we had to move on tomorrow.
So we grabbed a taxi to the main road.
Then a local mini-van to Masaya.

This terminates right at the markets.
Now these are not the tourist markets, but are known as the 'new markets'.
Here you can get most of the stuff your would buy at the tourist markets for 1/2 the price.
Inside the markets there are sheds.
Crowded and skinny hallways, and a place to hang onto your child and valuables.
We found a corner cafe and enjoyed a sandwich and cool drink for $1

We then headed out by taxi to San Juan de Oriente.
This is a town where the pottery is made.
Many a shop of some nice, some ornate, and some just plain tacky pottery is sold.
The ornate pottery has fine line carvings in it.
Really fabulous art pieces, and they are willing to ship worldwide.
We had been given the name of a place where you can try pottery.
Sorry I can't remember it!
As you leave the main road, you follow the road and it "S bends" to the right.
On the 2nd corner on your right is a shop.
The potter works out the back and you can head through the shop to the rear and ask to be shown how they make a pot.
They then gave my son a lesson.

It was a bit wonky, and we were not able to keep it, but for a first wheel effort, he was pleased.
We never were charged for this, but we did buy one of the carved saucers with a tortoise on for $3.
I do believe otherwise they charge 100 Cordobas or $4 for a lesson.

We headed back to the main road.
Opposite is a clean local restaurant.
We had chicken, salad, frijole beans and a few other items and a drink for $3 for 2 plates and the drink.
Pretty good value, and some went to the cat and dog that were nearby as we were too full to finish.

We tried to get a bus back to the main road, but gave up.
Soon a local moto-taxi (tuk-tuk) came along and we haggled a fare for $4 to take us back to Masaya.
Now this is fine, but the police don't let them on the main roads.
So he whipped down a back road.
Next he stopped and collected a rather large lady and her baby and in they squished with us.

This was all fine as we zig-zagged around the country roads.  But then a road was blocked with a fiesta or procession or demonstration of some kind.
So we flipped a U-turn.
I thought we were all going to go flat on the side of the moto-taxi, especially as here they have no doors.
But next thing we were zooming down another country road.  Downhill was fabulous.
Uphill we nearly started going backwards.  I wondered if we were going to have to get out and push.
But eventually - and I mean eventually - I think 45 minutes later we arrived!
He pulled to a screaming halt.  but we were told we had to stop in the side street, and we all bailed out.

We decided to head back into the market for more shopping.  We had an hour to wait til the bus went.
It was here Explorason decided to purchase some bracelets and earrings for "his new business".
We did some great bartering, and he bought about 40 items for his 'new business'.
He wants to make $100 to buy DS games!

We raced back to the bus, only to find we had another half an hour to wait.
We dripped with perspiration in the 'chicken' bus.
A lady selling drinks came in.
She carries bags of ice. She pops the soda top of the bottle, pours it in; knots it off and adds a straw.
We enjoyed our ice-cold drink as we waited for the bus to leave.

Back at the hostel we were too full from lunch to even have dinner.
Later that night the electricity went off again.
So next morning we had to leave with no booking or internet to guide us.
See our next blog to see how we went!

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