Author Archives: Isabella Bird

The ultimate Nicaraguan stitch up!

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We only had a few days left before Jules and I had to head home (Rach was never going home and had already been traveling for a year and a half) and Jules was desperate to get a tan so we decided to head back to the beach. I was pretty happy to go as I only went to the beach once in San Juan and it wasn’t that great. We had heard of a pretty chilled out place called Popoyo beach so decided to head there. It was a mission! We jumpped on a chicken bus from Grenada to Rivas there we had to swap onto another bus to las Salinas. Unfortunatley there wasn’t a chicken bus for hours so we splashed out for a Taxi as we didn’t want to wait or do the walk. Now you would think that Popoyo Beach Club (the hostel we were planning on staying at) would be on Popoyo beach. It’s not. our taxi got to the intersection and told us we would have to pay more then the agreed price to get to the actual beach that our hostel was on. All up our taxi cost $30 which is alot by Nicaraguan standards. At least we managed to get there. Also a little tip: there are no ATMs near the beach so get all your money out before heading there.

Our first inpressions of the place weren’t great and we were really doubting our decision to trek out here. There was no real reception and when we walked in we didn’t really know where to go or who to ask for a room and it just had a bit of a weird vibe. We finaly foundthe owner and got shown to some beds. It  was  $10 a night and they weren’t bunk beds! We  were staying. Mainly for the fact that it was such a pain to get there. We  then went out the back of the hostel and realised we were on paradise. The  hostel was directly on a beautiful beach that was practically deserted. The whole place was full of hot surfers so Jules and I were happy. Our days were spent lying on the beach, swimming and watching guys surf. It was a great way to spend the last few days in Central.

On our second day there Rach came and found us. The crew were back together (well half of it). We decided to have a night out and headed to Magic Rock as they had a taxi picking people up and seemed like the only place that had something on. It was a pretty fun night until we decided we wanted to get home. There were no taxis to be seen. we asked the bouncers to call us a taxi or where we could  find one and he told us to wait 20mins and he would call one. We  sat there waiting and he never called one. I finaly got fed up of waiting as it was clear he wasn’t going  to help us. We just wanted to walk home along the beach but every kept saying “No puede, es muy peligroso!” (You can’t, It es very dangerous), but no one would tell us why it was dangerous or any other way to get home. After what felt like an hour of waiting and arguing we decided to take our chances and walk home along the beach. I hid most of my money in my bra so if we did get robbed they wouldn’t get very much. It was the most stressful walk home and probably the most scared I have ever been traveling. Thankfully nothing happened and we were totally fine but I think I probably smashed the speed walking along the beach record that night. I was well and truley over Nicaragua and its shitty lies. No one ever tells you the truth and it gets really frustrating. Nicaragua is by far the worst country in Central for this and is the one thing that really brings it down in my books.

After chilling on the beach for a few days working on our tans it was time to leace central. We had one more day of shitty chicken buses to Costa Rica  (its way cheaper to fly out of then Nicaragua) and then hop on a plane to head home. Central America was AMAZING!!! I had an awesome 5 months exploring and will def come back one day 🙂 Hasta luego!

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“This one time when I was at everest base camp…”

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I wrote the longest post for Antigua and it has somehow disappeared. I’ll try and write it again but I’m sure it won’t be as good.

So far I hadn’t been loving Guatemala and it hadn’t really liced up to my expectations. Protests and shitty bus rides and really been putting a damper on it. After another mamoth bus trip Whitney and I had arrived in the much raved about city Antigua. As soon as we started driving down the cobbled streets I knew I was going to like it here.

We had booked into an amazing hostel calle El Hostal. it was so nice and chilled out and the beds were so comfy. We ended up staying here for over a week. On our first day here we went on a self guided walking tour created by the hostel. Our first stop was at the top of a hill with a cross overlooking the city. It wasn’t a super strenuous walk but we were puffing when we got to the top and I probably should have taken this into account later on when I decided to climb a volcano. Our next stop was an old monestry. There wasn’t a tour on when we got there so we jusr walked around by oursleves. There were a few signs but most of the time we didn’t really know what we were lookingat so just made it up. We then saw a few churches before stumbling on an amazing wine bar. It was here that our tour ended  (this is not where the guide told us to end) as we thought we had seen enough and really wanted a wine. 3 glasses of wine and a cheese platter later I had fallen in love with Antigua.

The best wine bar ever!!

I have never done a cooking class while overseas but some people at our hostel had done one and were raving about it so we thoughtwe would give it a go. It was a little bit on the pricy side but you got a 3 course meal and unlimited wine!! The wine wasn’t great but I guess that was to be expected. The menu we cooked was guatemalan rice, pepian, rallenitos and tortillas . The food was all really nice but I have to admit Guatemal doesn’t have the greatest cuisine. We got a copy of all the recipies so we could make it at home but I think I would struggle to find all the ingredients.

La Tortilla cooking class

After chilling out and bumming around Antigua for a few days it finaly became time to climb Acatanengo. I had been tossing up weather I wanted to do it or not since I arrived and really couldn’t decided. In the end some boys at my hostel, Ryan, Rob and Sid made the decision for me. They were a fun group of guys that seemed as unprepared as me so I thought if Sid could do it so could I. Then the day of the hike as we were getting onto the bus Rob drops that he has climbed to Everest base campand Ryan is an avid hiker that goes almost every weekend. I was way out of my depth but I had paid for it now so there was no turning back.

One of the guides kids

I knew it was going to  be hard but nothing could have prepared me for how fucking hard it was going to be. I had been on hikes before but this was above and beyond. To make it even harder we had to carry all our things. When I say we I mean Ryan. I still helped out and carried my water, sleeping bag and clothes but pack horse Ryan was amazing and carried all the rest.
By the first stop, around 30 mins into the hike, I knew I had made a massive mistake coming on this hike. Sids legs were cramping already so he decided to bow out and get a chicken bus home. If I had known what was to come I would have run down the hill after him. It was a constant climb from the beginning to the very end. There were only 2 flat parts the entire hike one for about 200m and the other about 40mins.

I was basically on my own at theback of the pack the entire hike. It didn’t really bother me though as I had my headphones in and no one to see me dying. Just when I thought I was at my lowest the heavens decided to open up and start hailing. It was like being shot all over by a million BB guns. Soaked and freezing cold I honestly thought this was the end! I wasn’t going to take one more step and threw my bag to the ground. I was staying here until the group came back.

After sitting there for a few minutes I realised I would literally die if I stayed here as I had no food (Ryan had run away with it) no tent and just a wet sleeping bag. I dragged myself off the floor and continued climbing. What after felt like a lifetime, but was actually around 6 hours I had made it to camp. The boys had got there long before me and had thakfully already set up the tent as I was in no state to help. I was basically hypothermic by the time I got into the tent. Everything was wet and I had gone blue. To say I wasn’t having fun would be the greatest understatment ever made. Rob and Ryan made me eat and eventually I started to warm up and become semi human again.

Loving life….

It was amazingly beautiful at the camp sight. Fuego was erupting every 10-15 mins and we got to see lava flowing out the top. We stayed out for as long as we could but eventually it just got too cold. We all went to bed to try and get some sleep as it was an early start and another huge day. Rob and Ryan happily spooned and kept eachother warm while I froze my ass off and got no sleep.

Fuego erupting!!

Freezing our butts off!

At 3 am we were back up and climbing again. It was torture!! We were now hiking up a hill covered in ash which is basically the same as climbing a giant sand dune. Amazingly I made it to the top. I couldn’t belive it. I even made it in time for the sunrise! It was absolutely freezing at the top and we were all huddling around like penguins trying to keep a little warm. As soon as the sun was up we were heading down the volcano. The way down was almost as bad as the way up. My legs started cramping so much I had to stop every 10 mins at the end. After a few hours we were finaly back to the start! I had done it!! I couldn’t walk properly for 4 days after and I lost my big toe nail. Was it worth it? I’m still not sure…. But I definitely would never do it agin!

We made it to the top!!!

The Brew Crew

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As Rach and I had done such a terrible job of exploring while we were there and the others hadn’t been we all (minus ben and jake) decided t head back to Grenada. There is an active volcano there and you can do a tour to see inside it which we were all really keen to do! Rachel being the greatest organiser there is sorted us out a private tour (for $18 each) to take us up to the volcano and back into town. Our tour guide and driver were amazing. Some of the other girls had done the tour before and said that it was ok but a lot of waiting around and pretty boring. We had the total opposite experience.

We got our driver to stop at a shop on the way up where we bought a bunch of beers and snacks. The actual drive isn’t that far but there are loads of people going there and they limit the number of people at the top at 1 time so there is a bit of a line. It didn’t really bother us as we had beer and good music! We ended up having a bit of a party in the taxi/van and were almost dissapointed when we got to the top and had to get out.

Drinks in the taxi on the way to the Volcano

The volcano, called Masaya, was incredible! We managed to push our way to the front and had an amazing view the whole time we were there. It was so mezmerising looking into the volcano and seeing lava/magma bubble away. We could have stayed there all night if we had been allowed and had more beer! Thankfully our taxi driver stopped on the way back so we could grab some more. It was def a highlight of the trip and I would highly recommend it to anyone going to Nicaragua!

Looking into an active volcano!!

That’s the shot!

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It was finally time to leave the party town and give our livers a rest. Jules Marnie and I jumpped on a rickety old boat and headed over to the island Omatepe. It was a pretty rough and wet trip so we were all pretty excited to get off the boat. The rest of the crew were heading over later as Rach still had a shift to do at Casa. We headed to the hostel to try and secure some accomdation for the 7 of us. Thankfully there were exactly 7 beds left at the hostel but Jules and I had to take one for the team and stay in a private room. It was so nice to have a room to ourselves that was quite!! Such a difference from Casa. We really didn’t get up to much on the first day on the island. We mainly just chilled at the hostel in this cool treehouse.

The next morning we were up for an early start. Marnie, Jules and I had booked onto a horse ridding trip along the beach. Our horses (sorry ponies) were tiny! We all were experienced riders so really we just wanted to go galloping along the beach. For the first half of the ride it was pretty hard to get them to do anything. We walked and sometimes trotted along a not so nice beach. After 45mins or so we decided to turn around and back towards the hostel. The horses finally got their butts moving and we finally galloped along the beach. It was good fun but not as amazing as the time kirsten and I werein Costa Rica.

Jules and Marnie on their ponies

That afternoon the rest of the crew joined us and we all hired mopeds to hoon around the island. The Motley Moped crew was formed. I had to ride on the back of Rach’s bike as I lost my license when I lost my wallet and also am a shit moped driver as I discovered in Vietnam. Jules and Marnie were also sharing as Marnie had to leave that afternoon. Our crew consisted of The Girls, Rob, Ben, Jack, Michael and Johannas. It was so much fun. We went down some dodgy roads at the start which our little mopeds struggled to handle and thought it was better to stick to the paved roads.

Motley Moped crew!! 🏍

We went and checked out Ojo de Agua which is a spring fed pool. It was very pretty but there were loads of people there ao wasn’t super relaxing. We went for a swim and grabbed some lunch and then decided to jump back on the mopeds and start hooning around again. I wish we could say we had no accidents but towards the end of the day when we were dropping Marnie off, Jules and her had a little tumble and ended up braking one of the mirrors off the moped. I think they had to pay a little fine and poor Marnie grazed the side of her leg. We didn’t think it was too bad but it ended up getting infected and she had to go to hospital… :-/ thankfully she was on her way home so didn’t have to go to a Nicaraguan hosptial!!
We ended the evening drinking beers and watching the sunset behind a volcano and competing to see who could get the best photo. Of course I think I got the best one!!

Drinking beers watching the sunset

That’s the shot!!

Sunday funday!!! 

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Ah the infamous sunday funday in San juan del sur. I had first heard about it when I was in the boat from Colombia to Panama a few years ago and had felt like I had heard about it everyday since meeting the group in Utila. The girls (Juliette and Rach) had worked at a hostel in San Juan called Casa de Olas and couldn’t stop raving about it so thats where we were headed. Rach had managed to get her job back for the weekend and they all said you needed to get there by Thursday to get a room (future reference you don’t but it is fun to get there early just to make a group of friends to party with). The hostel was super nice and even had a really nice pool with an amazing pool. My only complaint about the place, and its a big one, is if you aren’t in the mood for partying it is IMPOSSIBLE to sleep. The music was being blasted till 3am and then started again around 8am. It massively sucked.

Awesome sunset at the hostel

I really wasn’t in the mood to party our first night there as we had had 2 big nights before and I was so tired and still recovering from my bed bugs. I decided to just watch a movie and go to bed early. I was obviously unsuccessful as I have mentioned above the music was blasting till 3am. The next night I decided of you can’t beat them join them! It ended up being one of the craziest nights in casa de olas history.

I woke up the next morning with very vague memories of the night before. Thankfully there were enough people around to fill me. I had apparently made friends with half the hostel the day before but I had no idea what any of their names were. There was this one guy Adam whos birthday it was (and he let you know) that was white girl wasted from the day he got there till the day he left. So many grose things happened to him and he alomst drowned in the pool. I’m pretty sure him and his ass were going to take a while to recover from the place. There were also these awesome chicks from England that we ended up being good friends with but who also got up to a lot in the short time we were there. Lets just say there were a few golden showers going around and this wasn’t the first times. All I can remember from the night is at one point we were all in the pool and I was looking around and everyone was making out. It was just this giant soup of people all over eachother. The pool was disgusting for the rest of the time I was there.

A massive beer funnel on friday night!

Sat was pretty calm as we were all recovering from the night before and didn’t want to be wrecked for Sunday. The best part about sat though was that Niamh and Jules rocked up! I was feeling like a bit of a loner as rach had ditched me the day we walked into the hostel and the boys were busy wifing up (mainly james). I was so happy they were there and that I was going to have someone to party with on sunday.
Devestated!! Somehow Niamh being the space cadet she is fucked up her flights and was leaving at 2am on Monday, so really Sun night!! Her flight was from Managua so she really couldnt risk cominf to Sunday funday and then making it to her flight ontime. She had legged it all the way to San Juan for Sunday Funday and she was going to miss it 😦 I tried to rally and party with her that sat night but I just couldn’t. I was still wrecked from last night.

It was finally time!! Sunday Funday had arrived!! We tried to pace ourselves in the morning as we knew it was going to be a long day. After buying our tickets at naked tiger we headed back to the hostel to smash in a few more drinks before jumping into the shuttle to the first stop. It was absolutely packed so we decided to skip that one and walk over to the next stop (no idea what it was called).

Rach, Jules and I at the first stop!

After a very thorough pat down we were in! It wasn’t too crowded yet as everyone hadn’t left the previous place yet so we quickly went and got some drink vouchers and did a quick toilet run. The place quickly filled up and almost everyone was in the pool, besides us as it looked pretty grimy. As a rule we decided no pools as who knows what was going on in there…. After a few hours (I actually have no concept of time for this day) we were off to the Next stop at Naked Tiger. We quickly swung by our hostel to restock and then headed on over to naked tiger. My memory here isn’t great. I’m sure there was dancing and drinking but I couldn’t tell you specifics. The final stop was at a club on the beach. Very few people made it here except for the A team (Me, Jules, Marnie, Millie, Fiona and the boys). I think the club was probably my favorite spot. We danced on the beach for most of the night and the music was awesome!

Final stop dancing on the beach

The next day was insanely chilled out as everyone was dying. I hardly recognized the place without the music blasting and drunk people everywhere. It was the first time I had seen some people sober (Adam, Kurt). The hostel put on an awesome roast that evening and we spent the rest of the night chilling and watching movies. A great end to a crazy few days!

Karaoke on a Tuesday….

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It was onto another chicken bus and off to another city! Our group of 10 had widdled down to a megar 2. Dos Raquels were on tour! We were in the city of Grenada. It was nicer then Leon, in my opinion, but still not the nicest of cities. We were pooped and feeling grose after our shitty bus trip. We had been cramed on this tiny minibus that at first we thought was luxury for just $1. Ac and all. We soo realised why it was so cheap when they proceedes to cram as many people ad they possibly could. I had this fat ass womans boobs squashed against my face for the whole hour trip while Rach had her ass.

After checking into our hostel we decided we deserved a drink so headed into town to grab a beer and some food. The night somehow quickly escalted to a massive night out (I blame Rachel and her obsession with karaoke)! After a delicious dinner we set off to find a karaoke bar. Suprisingly there was one on a Tuesday night. We were the first ones there so settled in with some massive passionfruit cocktails. Finally some other people began to rock up and the karaoke began! They really didn’t have much of a selection of english songs but we made to. After listening to the locals belt out terible spanish balads from the 80s (judging by the film clips) rach was up singing bohemian rapsodey. I don’t think the crowd was too impressed but she was having a great time.

We ended up making friends with some locals there. One of them was either a very flamboyant gay guy or a guy going through the transition. Either way he was super nice and an amazing singer. It was finally my turn to sing, like a prayer by Madonna. I was so drunk at this stage though I couldn’t really see the words so kinda just slurred my way through it.

*I didn’t take any photos at the karaoke 😦

The next day I was sooooo hungover but we were going to a party in a tree house so I needed to recover quickly. Richard and James from utila were coming to meet us to come to the party too. I was still nursing my god awful hangover when we had to go and get the shuttle out to the treehouse. We were staying the night there so decided to go early. The treehouse was super cool. It even had a resident howler monkey. Rach and the boys started drinking straight away but I still wasnt up for it. After another spew, some food and a quick nap I was back in the game.

We were all given costumes that they had bought at an op shop in town. I think we kinda lucked out as our costumes were pretty shit. James was in a long nighty, Richard had green stripy pants and a white ruffled top (he prob looked the best), Rach had another nighty thing and I had a top that looked like a nurses outfit. The night was pretty fun but not the greatest party I have ever been too. By 12 Rach was smashed and I had to put her to bed which was a challenge as the stairs to the dorm room were deadly! I also got bed bugs here which put a massive damper on the night!!

Richard being sexy in his outfit

Sexy top!!

Volcano boarding! WoooooHooooo!!!!

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It was a long ass travel day to get from D&D brewery to Leon consisting of 3 chicken buses, 2 Taxis, a shitty ass shuttle and a bike rikshaw thing. It was half the price of getting a tourist shuttle though and probably took the same amount of time. We really didn’t get up to much our first day in Leon as everyone was still exhausted from the trip and poor Katie had this horrible rash that was so itchy! She ended up having this rash for weeks and went to several Drs but still have no idea what it was. The first Dr. We went to spoke no english so with my broken spanish and lots of miming we struggled to get the message accross.  She ended up getting some anti histamines and a booty shot in the back of a pharamacy which looked super dodgy that didn’t really do anything for her.

Leon isn’t the nicest of cities. It is like a really shit Antigua. We walked around a bit but there wasn’t too much to see. Just the church and the main square. You can climb onto the roof of the church there which is pretty cool but so bloody hot! It’s all white and you kinda feel like you are in Santorini.

The roof of the church

The main reason everyeone comes to Leon is to go volcano boarding. There is a really young volcano called Cerro Negro which is still covered in ash from its last eruption. Everyone I had met along the way had mentioned the volcano boarding but no one really mentioned the walk up! It is around an hours hike up the side of a volcano carrying your stupid board. I was having flashbacks to Acatanengo.

Rach and I before the climb

I don’t think anyone realised quite how steep it was going to be. It was a good 40 – 45 degree angle. We were all shitting ourselves. We got dressed in our sexy overalls which made us look like we were in some kind of aussie olympic team/ a 90s rap group. Thankfully Rach decided she was going to go first as none of us were putting our hands up. Right as she was about to go a massive cloud rolled in and we couldn’t see anything making it 100 times more scary! We waited for a little but it didn’t seem to be clearing so off she went. Sadly/thankfully for her we didn’t get to see her stack it.

Rach sliding into the unknown…

Rach filmed her whole trip down and it’s the funniest thing I have ever seen. She looks petrified but is yelling WoooooHooooo the entire way. At 1 point she bounces off of her board changing the comentary a little which just adds to the video (Rach is the most aussie sounding person I have ever met). Thankfully the clouds had cleared by the time it was my go. I was pretty scared as I am quite accident prone. The start was pretty easy and I wasn’t going to fast. I was thinking to myself I got this!! Then it suddenly got steeper. I forgot the instructions on how to straighten up and then hit a massive bump and bounced off my board. I got the board back and then took off again but 2 mins later my board went totally crooked and I fully flipped off it rolling down the hill. It didn’t hurt thankfully and Rach had filmed the whole thing so we were both in hysterics. I then had to try and get my board back which was a bitch as it was way too steep to walk back up. Thankfully it started to slide and I managed to grab it then slid to the bottom of the hill. It was so much fun and I def would do it again if I didn’t have to walk back up.

Aussie aussie aussie!!