Costa Rica & Nicaragua - Winter 2010

With Amy wrapping up her research in Costa Rica, it was a natural destination for this year’s winter escape. Continuing the tradition of the last few years, we planned to connect up with my parents in Nicaragua. After some false starts due to weather, I landed in San Jose a day late. Renting a car, we started our trek north, using Arenal as a base for two days. In addition to the looming volcano, we visited the curious Rio Celeste and went canyoning. We then booked it west to Barra Honda National Park, repelling into Terciopelo Cave the following morning. Taking advantage of the unique setting, I popped the big question to Amy (who loves caves). To celebrate our pre-union, we continued west to Sámara Beach for a few days of R&R.

Resuming our trek north, we crossed into Nicuragua (insane border crossing). Hoping to extend the chill beach vibe, we settled down in Las Peñitas. Christmas is a big deal in Nicaragua; to join the celebrations, we headed to León for Christmas eve and day. After curious daylong religious events, we followed the locals out to the nightclubs for a memorable Christmas night. Fascinating. On the 26th, we headed to Managua to connect up with the Harrisons, and then pressed on to Granada, with a wealth of colonial buildings and charm. Over the next three days, we took in many landmarks, swam in Laguna Apoyo (crater lake), haggled in local craft markets, climbed Masaya volcano, and ducked into caves filled with bats.

Amy headed home on the 28th to catch up with her folks – the Harrison’s pushed on to Ometepe. With lush forests and imposing volcanic peaks, the island makes for quite the backdrop. On day two, we attempted to get to the San Ramón waterfalls on the Southeast of the island. The road was so brutal, we had to ditch our car and swap out for a pair of motorcycles we rented from locals. This only prolonged the agony – the road deteriorated to pollock-esque rubble-strewn nightmare. We ended up crashing several times. We did finally get to the park, though after grueling mountain accent, we never quite made it to the falls. Sigh.

Our next base was San Juan del Sur, where the hardest decision of the day was deciding which beach to kick back on. We also visited the Vida Silvestre la Flor refuge. This involved forging several rivers with local help, including one instance where about 20 people literally picked up the car with me in it and put it back on firm ground. It was totally worth it though - we watched sea turtles come ashore and lay their eggs at sunset. Pretty mesmerizing. Before we flew home, we did one final northern loop in the country, basing in Esteli. The swim down Somoto Canyon was a great conclusion to the trip.

© Chris Harrison