Tapir Travels #5

March 2 – Rinitis Mixta
I intended to be in Nicaragua almost a week ago, but I had to stay because of sickness. In the beginning I thought that I just had caught a nasty cold with a temperature, because of the drastic changes of climate lately. When it didn’t get better I went to the doctor. They found out that I have a kind of allergy called rinitis mixta. I have had it for a long time, but in spite of many hospital visits in Sweden no one has been able to tell me what it was. The nurse gave me a shot and some pills, and I already feel better than I have in a long time. It’s nothing serious, although it’s chronic, so I have to live with it forever. Anyway, I feel healthy enough to go to Nicaragua tomorrow. I might stay one night in Liberia on the way.

March 10 – Nicaraguan Border
Crossing takes a long time, almost three hours. First you have to get a stamp at the immigration, change lines, pay on the border ONLY in dollars (when I just changed everything to cordobas and all). Nicaragua is a very poor country, apparently one of the poorest in the world. I hear that they have more than 60% unemployment(!), and that is not hard to believe. On the streets they still use horse carriages and even oxcarts, it feels like moving back 100 years in time.

My first destination was Isla de Ometepe, an island in Lake Nicaragua. It consists of two volcanoes that were joined together by an eruption of lava many years ago. It has a diversity of animal life. I stayed a few days in rock bottom ‘hotels’, one with outhouse facilities and a hose in the backyard instead of a shower. It was dirty but very cheap.

The people here must be the friendliest in the world. Everywhere they are smiling at you, asking how you are and wanting to help you. The children would say ‘hola’ and ask your name, just out of curiosity. As I walked along the coast, I could see the simple houses and the people living there. Some where made of bricks, while others were more like huts made of bamboo with palm leaves serving as roofs. Strangely enough the people seem happy, although they don’t have anything, literary.

I went to see some of the petroglyphs (rock carvings) that you can find on the island, made by the Chorotegas, indigenous people living here a long time ago. The infrastructure is very underdeveloped, it was hard to find a place to make a phonecall. There are two public phones on the whole island, one in the village of Moyogalpa and the other one in Altagracia. Both of them were not operating at the time I was there. It was even hard to find a newspaper in Altagracia, although it is the largest village on the island. It seems like they are selling them only in Moyogalpa.

The last two nights I felt I wanted to splurge, so I walked to the Santo Domingo beach and stayed at a more expensive hotel there, (if you can call $5 a night expensive). There I did nothing but lay in a hammock and swim in the lake for two days. Then I came back to the mainland today.

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