Friday, May 14, 2010

Hola Nicaragua!

I wrote most of this post last night after we arrived here in Esteli.  Our internet card will not work in Nicaragua at all since Tigo doesnt do service here so we are back to hunting down internet cafes.   Poor us, we have been forced to order fresh banana smoothies to allow us to sit in here and use the internet.

We took many buses to get here.  First, we took a nice little bus out of Tegus to the town of El Paraiso.  It was a nice ride through the mountains. It was overcast and a little drizzly but the temperatures were nice and cool.  I actually had to close my window because I was chilly.  We changed buses in El Paraiso and caught another bus for the short ride to Las Manos, the border town.  We crossed the border on foot.  Oh, the border.  Always a confusing experience.  This one was not well marked so we kind of guessed which windows to go to.  I guess the first window was just for a guy to fill out our paperwork. Then we wandered closer to the border and found the window for the Honduras exit.  This was where it got kind of amusing.  We had already exchanged what few lempiras we had for cordobas but were running pretty on cash.  The lady at the window said that it would cost $7 US each to enter nicaragua.  Great, $7, we pulled out some american money and she nodded her head, No.  Do you have lempiras?  We said, "No, how about cordobas?  How many cordobas?"  She had to calculate it which was very wierd.  The guidebook confirmed that it was really $7.  We gave her cordobas and she actually had to go out to the money changers and have them change it back into lempiras.  It was pretty funny but easy and we were quickly on our way across the border into Nicaragua.

There was a bus waiting right over the border to take us to the next town of Ocetal where we changed buses again and caught the bus for Esteli.  I immediately noticed a difference between Honduras and Nicaragua.  Although we love Honduras, we had found the people a little standoffish and I'd always felt like they gawked at us like we were freaks.  The Nicaraguans were immediately smiling at us and friendly without making us feel like freaks.  I noticed immediately that the Nicaraguans seemed to have better senses of humor and everyone seemed to be kidding around with their friends.  The differences between the personalities of the central american countries are subtle but they are definately different.

The bus ride to Esteli felt long.  The bus was really funny to me.  The bus seemed like it was built for giants.  The seats were narrower than average but the aisle was really wide.  The seatbacks were really high so I couldnt see in front of me and the window was really tinted so I could only see the tops of the mountains.

Here are my first impressions of Nicaragua from that bus ride.  It smelled like cookies and rain.  It looked like green mountains, blue sky and smiling, friendly faces.  It sounded like cheezy love songs which everyone knows the words to and happily sing along out loud.  We have already recognized the same song that we have heard at least 4 times.  We could see the bus driver in his mirror singing every word to every song.  It felt cool...a coolness that we havent felt since our first week in Honduras.

I'm really impressed so far and hoping that the rest of the country lives up to the expectations that this part of the country have set.