Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Hola from Honduras

Hi Everyone,
I am in a little Beach town on the Carribean Sea called Tela in Honduras. I have been in Honduras for 4 days now.
I left Granada Nicaragua ( a real Jewel of a town) about 2 weeks ago after 5 or 6 days at an excellent hostel called La Libertad. I got a ride with a couple of nice Newly Wed Israelis a MD and a Psychologist, who had bought a car in USA and driven it down to here and now had to sell it because it is a hassel of Herculean proportions to bring it into Costa Rica. I dont know the details but I got a free ride to Managua out of the deal (where they are going to sell the car)with two very nice people so...
From there I got on a mini bus that broke down half way to Peñitas. We stood around in the hot weather for a half an hour before another bus stopped and took us the rest of the way to Leon where I changed busses and finally arrived in a lovely little beach town. Peñitas. It means small rocks. Beautiful long (22km) white sand beaches on Nicaraguas Pacific coast. I stayed at a little French run Hotel with KILLER food called Barca de Oro. After four uneventful days of beach walking, sitting quietly, reading books, and swimming (ahhh what a life eh?) I finally motivated to go to Leon.
Not easy to find Big Foot Hostel unless you know where to look. It is new (so the beds are nice and comfy) and none of the taxi drivers know where it is. You have to tell them to take you to Via Via Hostel, which is just across the street. Everyone knows Via Via it is famous and a little rowdy and has a loud bar popular with travelers and locals alike. So I stayed at Bigfoot which is very nice indeed just across the street and way cheap at $3.00US per night.
First night, I went to Via Via, they had a live 6 man band. Whoa these guys was HOT HOT HOT a wired looking white dude played an acoustic bass guitar which looks like the big round back (ovation back) Mexican bass guitar that the Mariachi guys play. Excellent bass player. 3 percussionists all good and a keyboards player and a guitar player( who kind of thought he was Carlos Santana but he wasnt...) They played Samba basa nova, regae and some old Santana favorites like Oye Como Va and a bunch of other real nice music. I drank too much Cerveza Toña and Flor de Caña rum and had a great time. I really liked Leon. I think it is my favorite city in Nicaragua.
After Leon I took off with a bunch (4)of Americans. All cool guys. A surfer dude from Maryland, an organic farmer and horticulturalist from Oregon and two recently graduated Uni students from Minnesota who are on a voyage of self-discovery. All excellent travelling mates.
We went togetehr to Esteli. Near the Honduran Border.
Esteli is famous for being a Sandanista stronghold, and for making World Class cigars. We went because it is typically Nicaraguan and it is really cheap (our hotel Hospedaje San Francisco cost less than US $2.00 per person), and because you have to go there to go to Miraflores Nature reserve.
Miraflores is full of organic coffee farms and tobacco growers and organic veggie farmers. Beautiful waterfalls and wonderful orchids and great huge 500year old trees!! We went up there and had a 10 km hike hoping to spot the rare and beautiful Quetzal Birds who inhabit the reserve but had no luck. We went with a cool little 18 year old guide named Veronica. She was great. She showed us all these medicinal plants and took us to organic fincas and a nice waterfall with a pool (too cold for swimming), and an excellent lunch with organic coffee grown right there and an all organic vegetable curry from right out of the garden. A F-I-N-E fine day indeed!! And a top rated lunch after a 7k hike we wuz starvin like Marvin and that organic feed hit the old spot, lemme tell yez. After lunch we lounged in the garden waited for the rain to stop and walked 3km more to get our bus back to Esteli.
Two more days in Leone and off I went to Honduras.
A full travel day from Esteli at beginning at 6am changing busses 3 times to arrive in San Pedro de Sula at 7pm. Spent the night in that less than memorable town and then off to Omoa on the Carribean. I stayed there for two nights in Roli`s Place, a hostel owned by Roli a Swiss guy and run by a Honduran woman who seems to be his girlfriend. Nice place a nice outdoor kitchen free bikes free kayaks free water to drink but old Roli needs to take an anger management course...Harruummmphhh. The beach was small and not so great so I left and now I am in Tela where I have arrived about 4 hours ago and am staying at Posada sel Sol. I will go to Triunfo de Cruz, a little Garafuna village tomorrow and if I like it stay a couple of days there.
So thats all for now. Here is a little closing thought ...

"I always thought there were only two forces in this world good and Evil, God and the Devil. But there is a third force as strong as the other two, Stupidity. God the Devil and the half wits are struggling for control of the world"...Robert Daley
Be safe and Have Fun,
Rambling Robert

Friday, January 06, 2006

Greetings from Granada Nicaragua

Hello Everyone!
Well this is the first travel update of 2006.I am still in Nicaragua, having left San Juan del Sur,I went to Ometepe and now I am in Granada.
Ometepe is an Island in lago(lake) Cocibalca. This lake is sometimes called lAKE Nicaragua but I dont know why. Here in Nicaragua the Nicas always call it Lago Cocibalca. But when I was not here many people referred to it otherwise. A Nica by the way is the name for anyone from Nicaragua. A tico or tica is someone from Costa Rica a Che is someone from Argentina (Che Guevara). So it goes...
I have been wanting to come to see Lago Cocibalca for many years and so now I have accomplished another of one of my travel goals. This is the largest lake in Central America. Its about 175 km long and about 60 km wide. In the center is a large island called Ometepe. Ometepe is or was two islands formed by two volcanos and now joined by a narrow isthmus. It is the largest fresh water island anywhere in the world.
It is kind of on the gringo trail but kind of not.It is not very well developed for tourism. There are no large towns, no large buildings or hotels, and few paved roads. but because of its uniqueness many backpackers venture over to the island. Most dont stay too long as it is really a quiet sleepy agricultural and fishing based island very tranquil but not very exciting.
The lake is also quite extraordinary from a naturalists point of view.There are many marine species found nowhere else in the world except in this lake. I however was bummed and must honestly declare that I didnt see the pink freshwater dolphins or the bull sharks.
After my third day on the island I became ill and was quite sick and in much pain for the next 5 days, eventually having to seek medical attention and advice. I had severe chest pains and the pains radiated into my arms and jaw, this made me think I may have been suffering from some kind of heart attack or heart disease, but the doctor who examined me said He thought it was not my heart, and now I am better. Too bad I spent all of New Years Eve way too sick to party or drink or do much of anything except moan and sweat in bed. 100mgs of codein and 10 of diazepam helped me to sleep. Despite the noise of thousands of firecrackers and the sounds of happy revelers coming through the thin walls of my hotel room.I personally know at least three other travelers a Dutch guy a swedish girl and a German guy who all caught Dengue fever on the island while I was there and needed to be hospitalized. My symptoms did not match Dengue.
Finally I was feeling better and took a boat back to the mainland and am now in Granada. It is a really nice small city which is on the shore of the afore mentioned lake.
It was a key Sandanista stronghold during the terrible civil war years. And even afterwards to this day the town always votes for FSLN candidates. There is little to remind one today of the fighting and bloodshed of the 80s, A fact for which I am grateful. Except that women make up about 60% of the population here. So many of the young men in the 70s and 80s were either killed in the fighting or murdered by the death squads.
There is little noticeable bitterness among the Nicas over the war years although almost no one ever initiates any conversations about the horrors of the Somoza years. And I am glad to say no one holds any bad feelings today towards the USA for its legal and/or its criminal involvement. After the fall of Somoza, despite Ronald Reagans funneling 500million dollars worth of legal American military aid into the country to prop up one of the worlds most brutal fuedal regimes. And afterward,When the Reagan administration violated Americas own laws to illegally supply the contras in what eventually became known as the Iran Contra Scandal. Nothing could bring back Somoza and he was eventually murdered in Paragua in 1989.
This small impoverished nation of some 7 million souls is now peaceful and operating democratically, in spite of all it has been through. It is a real triumph of the human spirti I suppose. What is most wonderful is the people have been able to forgive and forget. They dont seem to blame themselves (ie the oligarchy) or the outside schemers (ie the USA and the Soviets). And so from every mountainside let freedom Ring!!
So I have made a few cool friends here, an Italian a Dutchman and an American Yoga teacher. Tomorrow we take a little bus ride over to Masaya and watch a beisbol game. This is the only country inLatin America where beisbol (baseball) is more popular than futbol (soccer). In a couple of days I will leave this lovely town and continue to explore first the North of Nicaragua and then over to the Caribean coast.
I hope this letter finds all of you happy and healthy.
Prospero Ano Nuevo,
"America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." -- Alexis de Tocqueville