Thursday, December 13, 2012

Nicaragua - another country checked off the list.

22:00, 11 Dec 2012, at anchor in San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua It is still HOT. If it wasn’t for the brisk, Papagayo winds blowing across the bay it would be unbearable in the salon. We have been here since yesterday morning after a comfortable, albeit, mostly windless 2-day motorboat ride from Bahia Del Sol. Our departure wasn’t nearly as exciting as the entry 8 months ago. Fran really enjoyed her early birthday present, a ride out on the back of the jet-ski that the guide, Rogelio, uses to lead the boats in and out. Fran was his radio operator for the morning, escorting our 3 boats out and 2 others into the bay. She hasn’t stopped talking about how much fun it was since we left.
Once settled in, sails up and heading in the right direction J-G had quite the chore, repairing one of the springs on the aft cabin door. This entails a disassembly of the entire door assembly. It definitely is not a good design and one wonders why the builders went that route. We now have used up the last spring, and will have to order more from the UK on our return home. Last night we experienced some stronger headwinds and saw some lightning inland, but, apart from the wind and a few light showers in the early morning we were spared anything serious. One of the highlights of the passage was seeing the dolphins during the night watches. The waters along the coast are rich in plankton and the dolphins leave a phosphorescent wake as they swim. On the first night the phosphorescence trail was in bright bursts of light rather than the normal wake-type trail. The other was catching a 6 lb wahoo, our first, and, for an ugly fish, he tasted really good.
We entered the bay just after sunrise to a light mist giving us fleeting memories of the Pacific Northwest. The bay has a large population of fishing pangas and some charter fishing boats but there are a few visiting sailboats, a German, Danish and another American sailboat. Beverly J is also here. This truly a picture perfect coastal town, complete with a giant statue of San Juan on the top of the hill on the north side of the bay, a long sandy beachfront and a new Japanese built fishing plant. There is a small pier adjacent to a boatyard and the Port captain’s office where passengers are off-loaded from cruise ships that stops in on a regular schedule.
Yesterday was Fran’s birthday so, along with Ken and Carol, as soon as we completed our check-in to the country, we did an afternoon Mojito run ashore. There are a number of little bars and restaurants along the waterfront where drink specials are the norm. We found a few good mojito places but none meet the standard we have set back home with the mint from our own garden. This evening we celebrated Fran’s birthday again with a wonderful dinner at the Colibri (hummingbird) restaurant. We have been in communication with our friends back home who are taking care of Rosie. All is well with and she is walking them regularly. …. We miss our guard dog but we feel better knowing she is in good hands. 20:30, Thursday, 13 Dec, Still at anchor in San Juan del Sur The wind has finally let up for the past few hours. Since we arrived the Papagayo winds have been ranging between 15 and 30 kts. The anchor is holding well and, because we are so close to shore, the waves are not a consideration, however, going ashore in the dinghy can be a wet ride. Yesterday the Star Princess anchored offshore for the afternoon. The ship is on a 30 day cruise that began in San Francisco and will end in Argentina after sailing around the horn and including a short visit to Antarctica. As is the routine, the ship disgorged hundreds of passengers to the shore trinket stands, to waiting busses and many found their way to some of the shore establishments. We met quite a few of them in a restaurant where we were testing out yet another source of mojitos. All were in high spirits about their adventure but were very curious about our lifestyle choice. We even got an invitation to stay at one couple’s place in Huatulco or Vera Cruz, Mexico. She is an ex-nurse from Bathurst NB and he is a Mexican ophthalmologist. This evening, under similar circumstances (restaurant) we met a young family who invited us to a party on the weekend (had to decline as we leave tomorrow) The parents are in the medical field as consultants and have decided to live here in SJDS for the next 6 months with their 3 children (under the age of 10). We went to Grenada today. One of the main cities in Nicaragua, it is located on the great inland lake about 1.5 hours away by road. In many ways it resembled the colonial towns we have visited further north. The museum offered a rich history of a country that went through centuries of turmoil Spanish Conquistadores, marauding pirates, JP Vanderbuilt and his shortcut to the Goldrush, the many revolutions and the still extant plan to build another Canal through the country. One of the features of Grenada is the large population of horse-drawn carriages, representative of a mode of transport that is still very much in use all over the country. We have seen many ox and horse drawn “daily drivers” on the roads.
Lake Nicaragua with volcanic Island and typical wind waves..... Nicaragua has been a very pleasant surprise for all of us. We had been told not to expect much and that the severe unemployment and lowest per capita income of all of the Americas would make this a more hazardous and bureaucratic country. On the contrary we have found the people to be very warm and cheerful and we have certainly experienced worse bureaucratic nightmares in Mexico. Although the Sandinista candidate just won the latest national election there doesn’t appear to be the political intrigue that many were expecting. We found that the country is much cleaner (trash wise) than its neighbors to the north. Also it is blessed with a large supply of fresh water so crops are diverse and plentiful. On our way to Grenada today we witnessed the considerable investment in giant wind turbines that the country has made to harness the power of the steady winds passing over the country from the Caribbean. A positive side of the low per capita income is that this is a very cheap country to live in so there are many American and some Canadian ex-pats here enjoying the simple life. Off to Costa Rica tomorrow.
Check out the top of the bus. Yes, that is a man laying on the matresses while the bus is speeding down the highway; it just passed us. Don't think they would allow that back home.....

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