Turtle Blues

Every year, up and down the Pacific coast of Central America, female turtles come to lay their eggs. And later, the resulting baby turtles hatch out of those eggs, crawl up through the sand, and make a dash for the sea. From Leatherbacks and Olive Ridleys to Greens and Hawksbills, and from Guatemala to El Salvador and Nicaragua, there are turtles nesting and hatching every year from July to December. All of these reptiles are either endangered or critically endangered, so seeing them in the wild is quite a coup, whether in the sea or on the land. Continue reading

The Nicaraguan Canal

One year ago this month, to considerable fanfare, a Chinese consortium who are planning on building a canal across Nicaragua started their initial work. But today, there seems to be no further signs of progress, beyond a few dirt paths that the construction company has carved out near the mouth of the Brito River, near the city of Rivas and just north of the surfing mecca of San Juan del Sur, on southern Nicaragua’s Pacific coast. Continue reading

To the Top of Nicaragua – Part 2

Nicaragua’s Maribios chain of volcanoes stretches from Cosigüina (in the far north of the country) to Momotombo (just above Lake Managua). And south of the lake is the Darien range of volcanoes. This includes extinct crater lakes, like Tiscapa in Managua and Laguna Apoyo; dormant cones, like Mombacho and Maderas; and gas-belching active peaks, such as Masaya and Concepción. Continue reading

To the Top of Nicaragua – Part 1

Nicaragua is sometimes known as ‘The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes’. And looking at a map of the country, it’s easy to understand why. There are numerous lagoons and lakes (including the two largest ones in Central America), and a chain of over 20 volcanoes, including 6 active ones. Some of them have huge, smoking craters; while others erupted centuries ago, leaving behind tranquil crater lakes. Like Guatemala, Nicaragua is perfect for volcano bagging, with activities like hiking, swimming, jungle-trekking, wildlife-watching, and just gawping at the views (when there are no clouds, that is). You don’t have to be a geologist to appreciate the power and beauty of these natural beasts, and the fertile volcanic soil around them is one of the reasons for all the diverse flora and fauna here. And like Guatemala, the convergence of all these tectonic plates causes plenty of instability (there are 10 seismic fault lines under Managua alone, which probably accounts for all the earthquake-ruined buildings in the capital). Continue reading

Getting Lost in Managua

While waiting for the lovely people in the UK Consulate, and in the British Embassy in Costa Rica, to produce my emergency passport, back in June, I had very little to do (and very little money to do it with). So wandering the (safer) streets of Managua became my daily little ritual. Which was often followed by getting hopelessly lost in the city’s shambles of anonymous neighbourhoods and unmarked roads. Continue reading

An Unexpected Hiatus

Some of you may be wondering why there were no photos in my last post, no visual record of the cigar makers of Estelí. Well, that’s because my camera was stolen just a few days after my visit to the cigar factory. And although that might be nothing more than a minor hiccup in anyone’s holiday (unless the tourist is a professional photographer and all their pictures were on the camera), for me it was more than a hiccup. Not because of the camera, but because the bag that the camera was in (the bag that was stolen) also contained my passport and bank cards. Oops. Continue reading

The Cigar Makers of Estelí

The highlands of north-west Nicaragua have the perfect climate for growing two plants that have become massively important to the country’s economy – coffee and tobacco. Whereas the mountainous departments of Jinotega and Matagalpa are in coffee country, Estelí department is famous for its tobacco fields and cigars. And having missed out on seeing a cigar factory in Honduras (due to it being closed for Easter), Estelí presents the perfect opportunity to see how these famous stogies are made. Continue reading