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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Las Peñitas, Nicaragua. A quaint fishing village. A great budget hotel. And 1 day old turtles sent out to sea!

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Having had no internet when we left Laguna de Apollo, we were 'winging it'.
We 'stole' a flyer off the notice board of what looked like a good place on the coast.
The Paradiso Hostel called us a cab, and we loaded up our bags and took that to the main road.
$4 well spent.
As soon as we got there the mini-van was passing.
He waved it down and hooted madly.
They backed up.
Bags were thrown and roped on the roof and off we went.
We arrived at Managua and changed to another mini-van.
But not before my son had a mini meltdown because we passed Burger King and he was desperate for western food.
I bought some deep fried cheese sticks from the local lady, a red Fanta and off we went.
This time we had to pay for an extra seat for the bags as he had no roof-rack.
We arrived in Leon.
There was a guy on the bus who helped us get a taxi.
We passed him our flyer.
We drove way out of town and I feared we were being kidnapped.
But we arrived quite safely.
I asked the taxi to wait as "no reserved".
The hotel lady showed me two rooms, including a great Eco-bamboo hut in the back garden.
But due to my son's allergies with mosquitoes, we went for the ordinary room.

We grabbed out bags, paid our $15 for the cab and sat down to a great lunch.

The owner of Barca de Oro Hotel was lovely!
She had trained birds that were in the garden.

 This hotel has lovely clean rooms, and in October gives you the third night for free.
The rain came and went, but we enjoyed sitting under the grass roof.

The hotel is rather eclectic, and some walls are painted with murals.

We decided to check out the town.
Well there is no town.
the beach is an S cure, so our section is a little lagoon.

This is a real fishing village.
Here fishermen mend nets, and kids play on the beach.

 We gathered a few supplies from the store, and a few more from another, but supplies are limited.
However the hotel meals were so inexpensive, it is not worth getting items to make your own meals.
We daily enjoyed the 'Plato de Tipico' with beans, feta cheese, fijole beans and sour cream.

As we watched the sunset I knew I wanted to stay a few days here.
But sadly we have an agenda for the next few weeks, so two days would have to do.

Next afternoon we headed into Leon.
We wandered around but it isn't as nice a a city as Granada.
We did go to the Cathedral - the most elaborate in Central America.

For $2 each we had a tour and a rooftop viewing - walking on the roof no less.
The interesting part - so I read - was that the plans were sent to Spain for approval, but because it was so elaborate he decided to send a set of 'fake simple plans'.
He had those approved.
then it took 130 years to build the elaborate cathedral - the 4th most elaborate in Latin America.

So we gingerly climb these skinny stairs.
There is a junction where you turn right and hang over the open space to turn up.
Super scary for me as a protective mother.
We are left on the roof by our lovely lady guide.

But the thing is we have to walk on the ridge of the roof....yikes!

Coming down the stairs as even worse than going up.
I confess - I was on my bum doing a bum shuffle down!
Only at the bend where we hang over the edge mind you - super scary and absolutely no good for anyone with fear of heights.

We then found a courtyard market.
Lovely with plants in all the courtyards.
We went here solely to find a bathroom.
So I was chuffed with myself for not making any purchases.
Next was the search for ATM's.
When travelling you must look in Central America for the symbol.
Visa Cash machines do not work with Mastercard etc.

Soon it was so hot and muggy and overcast we decided it was time for a break.
My son was served a 1/4 of a black and white chocolate and cream cake for $2.
Even the both of us could not devour it all.

We headed on to book Volcano Boarding with a Trekking company.
i will not name them as I was unimpressed they never contacted me to confirm or cancel the booking for the next day and left us hanging.
However they have a good cause.
Just it is low and wet season and they need 4 people to do it, and we were only two.

We returned by lunchtime (well a late lunch) for another typical platter at the hotel.
To our delight our lovely hotel owner had organised a man paddled canoe with Moses.
This was a rare treat.
34 turtles had hatched that morning and we were going to release them to sea at sunset.
It was only $12 per person.

Our guide Moses had a great knowledge of bird life.
He showed us so many birds as he canoed us 1.5 km up the mangroves.
We were to see Olive Rydley Turtles, their hatchery, and help them into their new life.

As we wandered down the Pacific Coast and Explorason ran in and out of the water - amazingly it was warm!

He guide showed us termite nests on the beach and in the trees.

We arrived at the hatchery to see two areas where the eggs were collected.
Here they are buried in sacks with sand.
Another area for Leatherbacks are buried in the sand and protected with netting.
We were told each nest has 100 eggs approximately.
But the locals get $9 for a nest of 100 eggs at the market.
The indigenous believe them to be an aphrodisiac.
So the new stance is for the government to give them the $9 to bring the eggs here - this has small response.
Out of 100 turtles released to sea, only one will survive the 12 years.

We are given gloves and told we must not have creams of any kind; insect repellent; sunscreen etc on our hands.  We didn't.
You pick them up from the centre of their shell.
Explorason had the first go.
The turtle shell was only 3 - 4 cm long.

Next I had a turn.
It was like the joy of holding a new born baby.
I was delighted.
I couldn't help talking to them.

As the sun was about to set we took the basin of turtles to near the sea.
It is important they have to 'walk' to the ocean.
This strengthens their flippers.
We were also told in 12 years time, the surviving turtles would return to this same beach to lay their eggs.  Explorason decided he wants to come back in 12 years!

It was great to see them head slowly to the water.
We were instructed never to walk in front, only behind.
Several had problems and couldn't move.
They had deformed shells which stopped them 'walking'.

This little one had a protruding growth under it's shell.
But we helped it on its way.
It will be fine to swim we were assured.

We watched them make their tracks to the ocean and saw the last one wash out with the tide.
Some washed back and forth, til they finally caught a wave.
In the next 3 days they would swim several km to a coral reef.
The sun set and we waved goodbye to our turtle family.
It was an incredible experience!
I love world-schooling, and we try to focus on things like this whenever we can.
This afternoon could not be captured in a classroom.

Now what surprised me is this Eco Lodge has beds from $5 a night.
Meals can be provided.
You can go and help collect turtle eggs in the night and save a near extinct species.
Had we more time we would have definitely done so.
I am not sure how to book these - you could ask at the hostel possibly?
It has only been open 1 month so it is all nice and new.
It is also turtle egg time right through to March or April next year, so if you are passing through Nicaragua I would recommend this.

We walked in silence along the beach.
Lightning cracked the sky.
Thunder banged and our walk under the stars was lit.
We somehow found the hidden boat - Moses was a genius.
He paddled us back with his single wooden oar.
As we drew closer to the town, the tide was out, so Moses got out and dragged the canoe to shore - refusing to let us assist.  I felt like a queen!

We just returned to the beach as the heavens opened.
I raced to the line to retrieve my washing.
The rain lashed down.
We soon fell asleep - wow what a day!

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