We had read up on a place called Cascada Blanca, we wanted to make use of all this camping gear we were carring around and the Swedes were interested in camping. Cascada Blanca is the name of a waterfall just ten kilometers out of town, it had a place to camp, swim and a river to explore. All four of us were game, Tua and I successfully went out to the market and purchased food for the night and morning and we all boarded a taxi to go to the waterfall. We all wanted to make the most of the last couple days the Swedes had before they boarded a plane in Costa Rica in a week. After paying to get in we went to set up camp under a giant rock ledge.
We were right next to the pool under the waterfall. I was hoping we would be the only ones there. Just after finishing setting up camp we made our way directly into the water, the sun had already passed the swimming hole so it perfect temperature to swim with no sun screen. It was nice to be away from the city and the commotion. At times I just long for our little tent hide away. It has been the only consistent home other than each ther we have had. So every time we set up camp it is comforting. Our tent is a 3+, we bought the 3+ because we would have gear and wanted our packs to be in the tent with us. We intend to fit all 4 of us in the tent to sleep, I guess we will cross our fingers and see how it goes. The four of us took a self-guided river tour down the river a couple kilometers!
We all make a great exploring team. It so nice to get some girl time and for Mateo to get some boy time with Timmy. Such as building a giant fire that nearly touched the rock above it and having to wakeup Tua and I because they completely smoked out the tent by burning as much wood as possible. Not to mention the giant rock they throw on the fire to help “put it out.” Boys will be boys. Tua and I talked about travel and plans for the future. I am bit jealous of the Swedes they attend school for free in Sweden, covering their books is their only expense, and even get an allowance for food each month. The down side is paying substantial taxes, it was awesome to get to chat about anything and everything. To our surprise Timmy, Tua, Mateo and I all fit into the tent together! We didn’t have any of our packs and slept like sardines. Our little camping trip was a success!
The chocolate tour was scheduled early, the four of us hoped into the mini bus that was to take us to to the chocolate factory I was excited to compare it to the Theo Chocolate tour in Fremont. I went on the chocolate tour for my birthday a couple years ago and loved it. As we were pulling out of our parking spot the driver slams on his breaks after hearing a crunching sound. I had just thought in my head after our guide introduced us to our driver, I wanted to say, “keep us safe!” Then in that moment we crunch the car in front of us because the driver didn’t pull out enough before turning forward out into the street. We only damaged the ladder and not the mini bus or the other car, it sure did sound like it hurt something. We made it to the chocolate factory just fine. It was like stepping back in time. We were shown how important chocolate was to Nicaraguans and their culture. At one point in history cocoa beans were used as currency. The factory had their old machines and new ones as well. It only had three workers and everything was done by hand, pouring the molds, sealing the wrappers and labeling. They produced 700 chocolate bars a day. We finished our tour with a chocolate tasting, including coffee and chocolate. The four of us needed to decide what to do with the rest of our day.
I call them our Sweedies, I have been keeping in contact since Semuc Champey, they are the Swedish friends that are traveling together. They had decided to change their plans and meet us in Nicaragua! It will be so much fun to have two more! They are to meet us in Matagalpa the next day. We plan to be traveling on the TicaBus until Managua. The end of our twelve hours couldn’t come soon enough. There was only one other gringo on the bus, and when we were crossing the border into Nicaragua we chatted him up, he was a French guy. Really nice had driven a motorcycle all over Vietnam! Sounds like something Mateo and I need to do. He said he was going to Leon and getting off the bus early, catching a chicken bus two hours west. We were to be in Managua early on in the day so we hadn’t made plans to stay anywhere in the evening yet. We had heard about Leon and wished we could of scheduled it in. So we joined the French guy to go to Leon, he was staying at a popular party hostel, we would check in with that hostel, and if not there were plenty more in town. Another bonus is this is where our Sweedies were staying before Magapala! We thought we would just hang out for the night find the Swedes in the am and head east to Matagalpa. We were let off the bus early as expected, and got onto a chicken bus. When we were in El Salvador we exchanged our guide book at a hostel, for a guide book that was more up to date, issued in 2011 instead of 2007. Once arriving in Leon we marched to the Bigfoot hostel with hunger in our stomaches. I had read good things about the Bigfoot hostel, it is a party hostel with awesome staff and amazing food that was cheap. Right when we showed up and got checked in, we ordered some pizza and chiled out. Best pizza I have had since LA when Mateo and I made pizza at Nate’s house. I went and took a nap to recuperate while Mateo went and socialized. The hostel was hosting a beach party at their other location that was at the beach. I woke up and we decided to go, we were sitting at the bar and this guy kept looking at me. I looked over at his and he asked if I was Emily? I said yes, we follow each other on Instagram. This was a crazy small world encounter. A friend from Everett knew a couple of guys who were riding bicycles from LA to the southern tip of South America, so I started following them on Instagram and reading their blog. They had planned to surf all down the coast. Now we are in Leon, Nicaragua and running into this guy. Totally blew my mind, I couldn’t really believe that this event was unplanned, it was all in all encouraging to hear Tom’s story and his decision to come all the way south to Nicaragua on a bike with a surfboard. Soon we all boarded a giant truck and left for the beach. It was a neat spot to hang out for the evening, the moon was full and people watching was great in addition to a bon-fire on the beach. The beach party kept us up late, I contacted Tua right when I woke up, one of our Swedes. They were in Leon and agreed to meet us in the main square! I was excited to be reunited with our new friends. They are a funny pair that keep Mateo and I laughing often. They are on the same schedule we are on, not at all except to catch a flight in Costa Rica in a week. The Swedes had ditched their plans to go to Belize when they were invited to join Mateo and I.
It was so hot in Leon almost 100 degrees. We were in desperate need to consume some ice cream, there were many ice-cream shops we just needed to pick one out. Mateo and I shared a banana split, a favorite for me. The four of us would meet back in the square in an hour, we returned to the hostel and put on our heavy bags and hiking boots.
There was a 2 o’clock bus that went to Matagalpa, we need to be on that bus. Once arriving at the station we loaded up for the hot sweaty and bumpy ride on the chicken bus. It was only a four hour trip to Matagalpa and we already had our hostel picked out, La Buena Onda. After walking a couple kilometers from the bus station we made it to the hostel.
It’s always nice to counteract a long bus ride with a long walk. We finished our evening by eating Mexican food and rested at the hostel. This hostel was really nice, clean, safe, and had good cheap food. The front desk guy said that it was one of the more expensive places in town, at a whopping $8 per night. We booked a chocolate tour for the next day, Tua and I were both really excited.