Monday, December 30, 2013

Nicaragua - Las Isletas

On our final full day in Nicaragua, we took a boat trip through Las Isletas - 365 small (sometimes very, very small) islands in Lake Nicaragua right off of Granada - and spent much of the day on an island owned by our guides, an interesting French couple who ran the touring company along with a group of native guides.  They showed us lots of flowers and birds, including the egrets that seemed to be everywhere, but sadly, we didn't manage to see any of the rare fresh-water bull sharks that live in the lake.  We did get to meet Cashew, the white-faced monkey who lives on the island, though Amelia and Soren never got fully comfortable with him being around.  They had a lot of fun swimming in the lake, and kayaking around the island with Daddy.  Definitely a memorable end to an amazing trip!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Nicaragua - Granada

The final stop on our vacation was Granada - the oldest colonial city in North America.  We took the Che Guevara ferry back from Ometepe to the mainland, and then drove up to Granada.  After refueling with some more maduros (fried plantains), we headed out to check out the city.  We enjoyed a tour of the city by horse-drawn carriage, including visits to several beautiful churches, and a museum.  We also took an afternoon trip to the nearby Apoyo Volcano crater lake - where we spent a lot of time swimming back and forth to a raft in the wonderfully warm water (and where Mommy and Daddy both jumped in off a high dock).  We had some fun meals, including eating outdoors while watching a break-dancing crew performing in the street.  We also visited the local market and saw huge piles of the fruits we'd been enjoying throughout our visit.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Nicaragua - Ometepe Island

On Christmas Day, we took a ferry across to Ometepe Island - a double-volcanoed island off the western coast of the giant Lake Cocibolca (aka Lake Nicaragua).  Amelia and Soren loved the festive decorations, as well as a wonderful sunset and the views of the two volcanoes (one active and the other long dormant).  To Soren's delight, our hotel (Finca San Juan) was located in the middle of an enormous plantain plantation, and the food (including plantains) was the best of our trip.  The next day, we enjoyed a tour of the island, including a visit to the museum of pre-Columbian art, a walk around Chaco Verde lagoon, lunch near Santo Domingo beach, a hike to some petroglyphs and a refreshing swim in the beautiful Ojo de Agua natural swimming hole.  Our guide Luis was a wonderful resource, and the kids were amazed at his knowledge of the various birds, insects and snakes that we came across on our tour.  Amelia and Soren enjoyed playing with Ella, a little girl they met at the hotel, and Amelia spent much of her time in the van, and at the hotel, and everywhere in between, reading her new favorite books - the Ramona series - on Mommy's Kindle.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Nicaragua - Morgan's Rock

Our next stop was a beautiful eco-lodge on Nicaragua's southern Pacific coast - Morgan's Rock.  We stayed in a beautiful hillside "tree-house" on the other side of a 150-foot suspension bridge from the main lodge.  We spent a ton of time swimming in the pool and playing in the waves, including Amelia's first time boogie-boarding.  The kids went kayaking for the first time - though a mangrove swamp with lots of exotic birds.  We went to the resort's farm and made our own breakfast, including milking a cow, collecting freshly laid eggs (still warm to the touch) and learning to cook tortillas - delicious!  We also went to nearby San Juan del Sur for a tasty seafood lunch and enjoyed some traditional local dances on Christmas Eve.  But the coolest experience came on our final morning, when we got a call at 6:30 am that the baby sea turtles had hatched - we rushed down to the beach and got to help them make the short journey to the sea.  Soren even got a shout-out on Twitter!