One Word Photo Challenge: Cat

With all the problems I’ve been having with my computers/internet lately, I’ve lost track of a  lot of the bloggers I usually follow. Jennifer and her One Word Photo Challenge is one of those. I only remembered tonight when I saw a post from Cee (another great photographer I follow) in my reader.

This weeks theme is- Cat. Check out the link and join in the challenge. 🙂

I like cats (and dogs, and fish, and hamsters, and rabbits, and turtles, etc). I can’t have any pets since I’m usually gone so much. Even a cat would starve to death by the time I got back from offshore. There’s a nice cat that lives a few houses down that comes by to visit me. Not so much now that my friends (who’ve been feeding it) have been gone a few days. I don’t have any pictures of that one yet, I was going to try to get some, but when I went for my camera, she was gone.

Here’s a photo of a kitten I took on vacation in Nicaragua last summer. It’s one of the very few I still have (most of my photos from that trip were stolen). 😦

A to Z: Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a beautiful and interesting country. There is so much to see and do there. Volcanos to hike or surf, jungles to explore, rivers to raft, oceans (2) to swim or surf, historic cites, small farming or crafting towns to visit, local markets to shop, you’ll never get bored.

I spent a few weeks vacation in Nicaragua last summer (they laid me off while I was there). I was actually going to attend another blogging workshop in Costa Rica. It was much cheaper to fly into Managua (and cheaper for everything else too), so I decided to spend more time exploring Nicaragua instead of Costa Rica.

I started off by taking a Spanish immersion class for a week in Granada at Nicaragua Mia. They picked me up at the airport in Managua and delivered me to my home for the week with Sra Maria Elena. She took very good care of me while I was there and even gave me a nice birthday cake. 🙂

I spent the week exploring the beautiful historic city of Granada after my classes at Nicaragua Mia. It’s a small city and very easy to walk everywhere, or if you’re tired you can hop on one of the cute little horse drawn carriages. They’re all over the place and very affordable. I took a tour on one with a local guy and got to see a lot of the city and learn more about it’s history.

I liked to walk the few blocks down to Lake Nicaragua to check out the Malecon. They always had people selling snacks and drinks, sometimes playing music for tips. There were kids playing and couples strolling by holding hands.

From there, I could walk back up a few blocks towards town and pass through the lively pedestrian street La Calzada, full of bars and restaurants with outdoor tables and wandering mariachi bands. I usually stopped for a 2 for 1 drink special or ice cream, maybe even stick around for dinner.

From there Central Park, surrounded by churches, hotels and government buildings was the next stop. I liked to go up the church tower to look out over the city skyline and the lake. Then come down to sit in the park (free wi-fi) to watch the ‘action’ for a while- the line of horse carts drumming up business, the food and drink vendors, the families watching their children play, the school kids heading home. It was all nice to see and calming in a way.

I was a little sad to leave Granada and my hostess Maria Elena, but excited to get to Costa Rica for my blogging workshop. I was really hoping to learn how to improve my blog and finally figure out how to monetize it.

After a long day on the bus, crossing the border into Costa Rica, I arrived at the hotel where we would be staying the next week. It was beautiful! Way out of my usual style of travel. Very nice, but unaffordable for the kind of long term stays I like.

I spent the week there with a dozen other bloggers, all of us excited to be learning how to better our blogs. It wasn’t all work and no play. We took day trips to hike a volcano, horseback ride, and to Tamarindo for a day out sailing, snorkeling and fishing.

When the class was over, I headed back to Nicaragua. San Juan del Sur was my destination for the next few days. I found a nice apartment right on the beach. Nothing special, but it was on the beach, close to everything and all I needed (full kitchen, AC, wi-fi). I spent my days walking the beach, wandering around town enjoying the laid back atmosphere, taking lots of photos and an excursion to see the sea turtles come in to lay their eggs.

I could have stayed longer, but I wanted to get back to Granada for the Tope de Toros and Hipica. I was really looking forward to the celebrations. I wanted to watch the ‘running of the bulls’, see all the decorated horse carts and the competitions. I heard it would be a week long, city wide party. I was ready for some of that!

When I arrived, I was disappointed to learn that they had changed the dates at the last minute. Nobody really knew when they would have the parades, etc. But turns out not during my stay. So, I cut it short and headed to Matagalpa. I was ready for some cooler temperatures.

I met an old friend T., from high school there (he was looking to escape his kids), and we had a good time exploring the area. We found a small town of weavers, we checked out a waterfall on the way, we looked through the local markets. It was cooler than Granada and definitely worth the trip.

From there, since T. had a rental car, we headed to Leon, another colonial city. We spent the day hanging out in the city center, looking at old churches, listening to music, checking out a special food and drink show for the trainee bartenders and having lunch.

It was about time to go home, so we headed back to Managua for the last couple of days. I wasn’t really ready to go back home, but I still have too much to do here to just say ‘the hell with it all’ and stay down there. I really need to find a way to get rid of this stuff here!

*A post for the A to Z Challenge (N)



I haven’t been doing a whole lot lately. I’ve been out of work and so out of money and so not able to do much traveling. I’m trying to avoid spending money as much as possible while I’m trying to find a new job.

I’ve joined in the Just Jot It January, where the challenge is to ‘jot’ (post) something every day for the month of January. I’m finding it a little hard to find interesting things to post about that often, especially when I’m pretty much stuck at home. Things are really pretty boring around here right now.

I did a post a few days ago about what happened last year. Sabrina, (The Photographicalist), commented that she’d like to see some pictures of the arribada. That’s where the sea turtles struggle ashore on the beaches to lay their eggs. I did find one picture (almost all my photos from that trip were stolen).

I was lucky enough to see the arribada last year when I was in Nicaragua. So sorry, I wasn’t able to get any good photos since it was night, it was very dark, and tho they passed out little red lights, they warned us not to shine them at the turtles. It might upset them enough to make them stop laying their eggs. I don’t know why they don’t go see them in the daytime, I never got a straight answer to that question. I hope one day to see them in the daylight. 🙂

I did take a few photos anyway. It was such an amazing experience, I soon gave up messing with the camera. There were dozens of turtles (olive ridleys) coming and going up and down the beach. Like all sea turtles, the olive ridleys are endangered, it was thrilling to see so many of them at once. It was hard to see them, but you could hear them coming and you’d better get out of their way cause they weren’t moving out of your way!

We went as a group (I signed up for a tour at a hostel- Casa Oro– in San Juan del Sur), we all watched a movie before we left and our guide explained everything for us. She even scooped out the sand behind the turtle as it was laying, so we could all see the eggs being deposited.

I’d like to go back someday, it was a fantastic experience. If you ever get the chance to see it, you should! 🙂

Just In Time

I left Granada this morning on the Ticabus (there is alsoTransnica) and arrived in Costa Rica just in time to start my blogging workshop this afternoon. 🙂

I really didn’t think it would take SO long to drive such a short distance! The bus left Granada right on time at 0700 sharp! We got to the border around 0830 and didn’t get through there til almost 1100!

We all piled off the bus and hung around waiting for ????? (they did make announcements in Spanish but I am not at that level yet). No one was allowed back on the bus. It was hot, but thank goodness we had a nice breeze and the clouds helped a lot. There were all kinds of locals hanging around.

They had food and drinks: regular little roadside restaurants with tables in the shade set up selling bar-b-que chicken and plaintain chips. Cold water, fruit juices and sodas. Lots of people wandering around to change money, sell you sim cards for your phones, guys selling leather shoes and trinkets, gum and cigarettes (individually), hammocks, women selling sweets and cashew nuts.

After about an hour and a half, a little Nicaraguan lady came out of the station with our passports. She called our names one by one and we were allowed to collect our passports and re-enter the bus. We drove about 300 meters and had to go through the whole rigamarole again on the Costa Rican side of the border (tho it went much faster there). I’m sure glad we didn’t have to wait for the dozens of trucks!

They dropped me off around noon at the Ticabus station in Liberia where I tried to find another bus to my final destination. The bus from Granada just goes direct to San Jose. The ticket costs the same $29 whether you want to get off in Liberia or go all the way to San Jose.

I probably could have found something to get me a little closer to the beach, but since I was cutting it so close to the time the class started, I just took a cab.

There are shuttle buses that run from the airport to the resorts, but it would have cost me $10-15 to get to the airport and then another $20-25 from there. Considering the extra time, I figured it was worth it to just take the cab straight from the bus station for $40 direct to the hotel. My driver Angel was fast and spoke enough English to make the trip even more interesting. 😉

More manana!

What’s it Like In Granada

I’ve been here (Granada, Nicaragua) since Tuesday afternoon and I’ve been busy since I got here. Granada has about 125,000 people living here, but it really doesn’t feel at all like a big city.

I’ve been walking back and forth between my homestay and the school a couple of times a day, to and from the Central Park and/or the lake and it just feels like a sleepy little small town in a lot of ways.

Maybe it’s the horses? They still use horses here for a lot of work. I see them all over town, including in the lot next door. I haven’t taken a city tour in a horse cart yet, but I probably will before I leave. People say it’s a nice way to see the city. I see the locals riding around town in them too. Granada is ‘famous’ for its horse carts. They even erected a statue of one at the entrance to the city. 🙂

Maybe its the drummers I hear practicing every night? I followed my ears to the local Red Cross (next to the Iglesia Guadelupe). They’ve been diligently practicing for their ‘fiesta patronal’ coming up August 15 (in honor of the ‘Virgen de la Asuncion’. It looks to be a hell of a party! I watched the band practice their music while the dancing girls accompanied. The guys continued their basketball games undisturbed.

Iglesia de Guadelupe

Iglesia de Guadelupe

Maybe it’s how the pace of life seems so relaxed? The people here seem to take things as they come. I don’t see people rushing around to do anything. I see them sitting outside their doorways relaxing or talking (might be because the AC is too expensive and it’s HOT and humid here). People come out at night to hang out in the parks or play in the streets (there’s not much traffic).

what a nice change! even the cops are just chillin'

what a nice change! even the cops are just chillin’

All in all, it seems like a pretty decent city to spend some time. Maybe I’ll come back. 🙂

Nicaragua Here I Come!

I finally got my vacation! I’ve been asking about it since April. I had to work 2 months straight to ensure I had the dates I needed off so I could attend a blogging workshop in Costa Rico. It was really just pure luck that it worked out that I could do that.  My boss told me a while ago that I could have that week off, but who wants to travel so far just to spend a week in class? Not me!

So, I got home from the ship late Friday night after 2+ days of traveling from Luanda, Angola. I spent all weekend trying to catch up on rest and mail. Monday was spent running errands and returning phone calls. Tuesday morning, I set the alarm for 0300 so I could make the 0845 flight to Managua. Even then, I almost didn’t make it!

Arrival in Managua was a nice change. Quiet and simple. No long lines or huge hassles. Ricardo, my driver, was waiting for me right outside. I had arranged this through my chosen school, Nicaragua Mia.

Nicaragua has dozens of Spanish language schools. They’re all very affordable and they all seemed to offer pretty much the same deal. I wanted to get out of Managua right away and thought Granada sounded good, so I picked a school there. Nicaragua Mia got the nod since they answered my email immediately and I was setting all this up last minute.

Ricardo took me directly to the school where I could finalize my choices for the week (how many hours of classes, any afternoon activities, etc). Then he took me to the home of my local host, Maria Elena. She was very nice and welcoming. She showed me my room and asked me what I wanted for dinner (in Spanish).

view from my balcony

view from my balcony

I decided to take a walk after getting settled in. Lake Nicaragua is just a few blocks down the street, so I walked over there. There’s a nice park and malecon along the lakeshore. People were hanging out over refrescos and helados (ice creams). I wandered around til it started getting dark and then headed back to my room.

Lake Nicaragua

Lake Nicaragua

When I managed to find my way back to the house, it was already dark and Maria Elena had dinner waiting for me. We had dinner together of pollo, pinto gallo, and verdes (chicken, rice & beans, and vegetables).

I was still dead tired from the last few hectic days, so I hit the sack by 10:00. School starts at 08:00 and breakfast here is at 07:30. I hope I can catch up on some sleep soon! I really hate to be falling asleep when there are so many interesting adventures awaiting. 🙂

my room en la casa de Maria Elena

my room en la casa de Maria Elena