As soon as I can, I’ll update you on my one year trip. I’ve decided to leave everything behind and spend real time with the people that matter the most in my life: my wife and three children. This is my story, I hope it will inspire you to create yours.
You can read my previous “On the road” articles:
- On the road #1
- On the road #2
- On the road #3
- On the road #4
- On the road #5
- On the road #6
- On the road #7
- On the road #8
- On the road #9
- On the road #10
- On the road #11
- On the road #12
- On the road #13
- On the road #14
- On the road #15
- On the road #16
- On the road #17
- On the road #18
Date: from February 26th to March 6th
Countries/States/Province traveled through: Nicaragua
Interesting enough, we’ve only been on the road for 8 days and I already have the feeling I need to share this with you. It is because we have experienced many incredible adventures in a very short time. Is it because we have become travel gurus? Or is luck? Or is it just destiny sending a bunch adventures towards our way because we deeply wanted to go back on the road? I don’t know what it is, but I can tell you one thing, this time, we got deep dished in Nicaragua. I always liked this expression coming from the famous crust pizza you can find in Chicago. We have reached the heart of this country!
But first, a few words about our departure
Leaving the house in Costa Rica wasn’t easy. A few days before we left, we were anxious to get back into Freefall for this last chapter of our trip. After 3 months, we had built a life in another country. We knew firsthand the farmer from whom we bought our fruit and vegetables, our cleaning lady, Vilma, was in love with Caleb, I made friends at Mono Congo, my office 3 days a week and we just felt at home back in the villa after each hike or day at the beach.
We were lucky enough to visit friends at their place near Tamarindo the day before we crossed the border. We didn’t know them very well (they were soccer friends), but it felt really good to enjoy a nice dinner with people we knew before going it alone for another 3 and a half months. Looking at Eric made me remember that I should do the same; this guy has 30 projects going on at the same time. He basically has dozens of money making projects… No wonder he is building 2 houses in Costa Rica at the moment! Hahaha!
After this nice encounter, we slept in a Finca very close to the border. I was darn nervous to get through the endless bureaucratic circuses… The day of our departure, at 5:15 I was up, at 5:30 we left the Finca and we finished crossing the border at 7:20. We haven’t loss our ninja touch for border crossings!
Deep Dished into Nicaragua
While we travelled, we made a lot of friends both on the road and on Facebook. Another traveller that we had never met before referred us to a family in the small village of San Juan de Oriente. They were friends for many years and the family was kind enough to welcome us to their little pueblo.
One thing to understand is that these guys grow up very close to each other. Therefore, we had met so many people during the next 3 days; I’m not sure who the brother of whom is and who are the cousin or aunts we met. Still, everybody in the whole family was incredibly welcoming.
We parked the car in front a school near a park with free Wi-Fi. A very clever idea the government had; they offer Wi-Fi in most children’s parks across the country! This is where we slept for 3 days.
We started our day by having a walking guided tour by one cousin (I think?!?) of the family. As we arrived early than expected, Raina and her husband Herby weren’t there yet. We then walked across this beautiful pueblo with sculptures of Mayan Gods everywhere. The village was situated close to the Lagon the Apoyo. Caleb called it the Lagon of Pollo the whole time ;-). We took a short walk to the mirador to admire a great view.
When we came back to the village, we followed Raina to her house. Very modest, she told us before we entered her house that her family wasn’t rich… in fact they were very poor. Third-world country poor. The house isn’t a house. It’s just a bloc of concrete with no windows and a metal roof. Don’t ask where the kitchen or the living room is; the kitchen is outside right beside a fire pit and the living room is simply the outside the house, covered by the same roof. We sat down on a wooden bench and started chatting. Spanish immersion big time! The even offered to share their lunch with us. Typical rice & beans meal. The kids didn’t say a word; I was quite impressed how they had reacted. They even went to watch TV with Raina’s little girl in their home.
We spent the rest of the afternoon with Raina and her family before going back to the park and let the kids play with other Nica’s. Our children were quite “popular”, it was fun to see how quickly they became integrated! Raina and her husband joined us for an evening tour of the village up to the mirador where we can see the city of Granada on the other side of the Lagun Apoyo. This Lagun is actually a volcano that has been sleeping for hundreds of years and now covered by the cleanest water in Nicaragua.
The next morning, we woke up early as Amy was sick at 5am. She hadn’t been feeling well for 2 days and we decided that I would go with the boys to explore the Lagun Apoyo while the girls would stay in the RV to rest. We hadn’t been sick during the trip so far, save for a few stomach bugs and vomit episodes that is just part of the game.
We were lucky enough that Herby joined us in our hikes. He showed us an ancient path taken by the Mayas. There were many sculptures along the way of different gods. Once we got to the Lagun, we went for a swim while Herby’s family came to join us and cooked a delicious meal on the beach. For once, we were one of the locals hanging out and not just tourists passing by J. Then, we had lots of fun riding in the box of an old pick-up truck until the car could no longer climb up the hill. Raina’s brother was playing with his motor. I was quite surprised to see how they manage any mechanic trouble with just a few tools! After 30 minutes of trial and error, we were back on the road again!
I was relieved to find Amy looking a lot better upon our return. We went to play in the park again and our plans to see Granada the next day were still on. The next morning, we left early to explore the city. Granada is a nice colonial town. It is not my favorite, but I think I have become spoiled by traveling so much, hahaha! We walked around and took many pictures of the architecture. Then, we did the other thing we enjoy most when traveling in cities; eating at different restaurants! Hahaha!
We spent 3 great days with Raina’s family. We were touched by their generosity. Unfortunately, we had to leave them on a series of unfortunate events. During our last night, Amy started to feel sick again. She had fever and Advil couldn’t help to drop the temperature. Early in the morning, Raina knocks on our door to say goodbye as they had to leave for the hospital for her mother. At that time, Amy still had a fever and Caleb started not to feel well. This was total panic in the RV with two kids having a fever! At home, this wouldn’t have been a big deal. We would just wait 48 hours and go to the clinic if need be. But when your children are sick in a third-world country, we are facing a whole new different challenge. I left for the farmacia while my wife was searching for help among her Facebook friends. We were lucky enough to know a few doctors, nurses and pharmacists among our friends. They all told us to wait and keep them hydrated. We then decided to leave for Somoto anyway, thinking we would be close to Esteli, where there is an hospital if anything went south.
Then again, we were welcomed by Fausto, a guide for the Somoto Canyon and his family. They were very welcoming and even offered medicine for our children. The fever was under control and by the next morning, both kids were feeling better. We decided to stay one more day as we wanted to do the Canyon, but we couldn’t do it with weakened kids! During this day, we met with another family traveling with 3 kids (so cool!) in a pick-up truck with a tent (okay… they are far more adventurous than we are!). Drietz and Karoline are from Belgium. They have been travelling through North and Central America like us for a while. It was nice to chat with them while our children were recovering. That night, all the children were feeling well on our side and they got invited to celebrate the birthday of a little girl in Fausto’s family. They enjoyed the piñata, cake and even dancing! Once again, I felt blessed to live these previous moments with my family.
Exploring the canyon was something to remember! We did the big tour which is about 11km of walking and swimming through the canyon! It felt a little bit like the Narrows in Zion, but with the option of swimming for a good part of it. The kids loved it as we explored the canyon with the other family as well.
We spent the night chatting with Drietz and Karoline and other travellers that had just arrived there while we were hiking. In order to thank the Fausto family, we gave them 2 soccer balls. One kid even asked us to sign the ball as he was super happy. It’s a great thing we brought these balls to give away a little bit everywhere in Central America!
So here we are now, after a beautiful week in Nicaragua, we hit the road the next morning for what is expected to be the toughest day on the road: crossing Honduras in one day and finish our ride on the beach in El Salvador. I’ll tell you how it went in my next on the road!