Day 5 through 9, the rest of the story.

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Day 5 started out much of the same in Matagalpa. Me sitting on my deck drinking coffee, catching up on emails, and taking in the sights and sounds of Matagalpa. I am pretty sure there isnít a better way to start the day. I was going to head to Esteli in the afternoon and wanted to see the coffee museum before I left. I took off on foot to the central part of town. ViaNica had said that the museum was one block south of park Morazon. I circled all blocks south of the park and went even further south to no avail. So I asked someone where it was. He said one block south and then one block to the west. Nope, wasnít there. I asked another for directions. Two blocks east and then two blocks north. Nope, not there either. So I asked a police officer where it was, he said he would walk me to it. So off we went. He took me to a restaurant. I found it very amusing that everyone wants to help you even if they donít know where it is. So I gave up and didnít get to see it. I exchanged some dollars for cordobas, stopped in the grocery store and bought several different types of local coffee, and headed back to the motel to pack up and head out.

Day 6. The drive to Esteli was nice and uneventful which is exactly what I wanted. I arrived Esteli and started to look for the Hotel Los Arcos and found it shortly. I was a little concerned that I didnít make reservations and that they might not have a room. Thank goodness I got there at about noon and got a room because about an hour later a 4 wheel drive convention composed of people from all over Central America showed up and snatched up every last room. I was able to check in at 1400 and then headed off on foot to explore the town. Holy crap there is a lot of gringos here! I headed back to the motel at around 1800 and headed into the bar/restaurant for some drinks and dinner. After dinner, 3 Peace Corps people walked in and sat next me and we struck up a conversation. Of course one of their first questions was what was I doing in Nicaragua. I explained that I was looking for good land suitable for growing coffee and one of the key points was that I wanted something away from the bigger towns because I donít care for the hustle and bustle. One of them told me she had recently been to San Jose de Cusmapa and that I should really check it out. When I got back to my room I broke the computer out and went straight to google maps to get an idea of how long it would take me to get there and back to Esteli and then on to Los Penitos the next day. I estimated one hour to Somoto and then two hours from Somoto to Cusmapa. So, 6 to 7 hours there and back and then another 3 and half to Los Penitos. I had made it a rule for myself that I would not drive at night so if I left the motel at 0800 I should have no problem making it to Los Penitos by 1800. For those that have not visited Nica they do not have day light savings time and it is dark by 1800. No problem, right????

Day 7. I woke up at about 0600, got a cup of coffee, and walked out front to have a smoke. Hotel Los Arcos has a secure parking lot across the street that I would estimate should park about 12 vehicles. Well they had crammed about 20 vehicles in there somehow because of the 4 wheel drive folks and of course my car was in the very back. So I waited and waited and waited to get my vehicle out. I finally got out about 1000 and hit the road at a fast and furious pace. Good news for me because I thought the road was dirt from Somoto all the way to Cusmapa but they had laid pavers from Somoto to San Lucas so that was fast until I arrived in San Lucas. Yep, got there just as they were starting a parade and no way around it. Oh well, I hate being in a rush so I took the opportunity to get out and video the parade and enjoy it. The road from there on was dirt but was in pretty good shape and I had no problem in my Toyota Camry. Once again another beautiful drive dotted with small Fincaís all along the way. I am not for sure of the elevation at Cusmapa but itís up there and from my estimates about 3 to 4 miles from the Honduran border. The town is surrounded by a pine forest and I would guess the temperature was in the high 60ís. A little cool for T-shirt and shorts. A made a few laps around town after dropping off two 70 something year old men that I had picked up along the way. I know that there had been some Peace Corps people here before but it was very apparent they donít get too many gringo visitors to the town. This time it was more of an astonished look but very friendly.

So I headed back at 1315 tearing down the dirt road but of course I stopped and picked up a family of four and dropped them about 4 or 5 miles down the road. I stopped at the park in central Somoto and glad a did. If you go through Somoto make sure you go see the park, one of the nicest oneís I saw in Nicaragua. Not too far out of Somoto there were two policemen trying to get a ride so I stopped and got picked them up. I had bought a small Nicaraguan and FSLN flag in Esteli and had them displayed in the front windshield like so many others that I had seen. They asked me why I had them and I responded that I did it to draw the policemenís eyes away from my rental car sticker. I had read that police look for that sticker and especially when a gringo is driving the car so they can target them. Their response, good idea! They were headed to Managua so I dropped them at the turn to Leon just south of San Isidro.

I arrived Leon just as the sun was getting ready to set. I had studied my google maps and thought it would be easy to navigate. Simple, I come in from the north and head straight to downtown. Then take the main road west out of downtown. Once again, no signs, or at least I didnít see any. I have a really good sense of direction and rarely get turned around but somehow I headed south out of downtown. After about 15 blocks the road is getting worse and is not opening up into highway like it should. I finally realize this just as the sun set to west. If you have never been to Nicaragua you have to realize that in the center of any large city the roads are all the same size and have to signs leading in or out like a major thorough fair. The best way I have figured out is to head in the general direction you want to go and once you get out near the edge of the city start going the opposite direction and start looking for a main road heading out of town. I arrived Los Penitos and pulled into Playa Roca right at dark, hah, I had made it!

Day 8. Sit on the beach, drink a beer, go body surfing, sit on the beach, drink beer, go body surfing over and over again. Not much to write about there, just time to relax and that is what I did. Playa Roca is a great place and is literally right on the water.

Day 9. I had met two Austrianís and a guy from Switzerland that had been backpacking around Central America for about 3 weeks the day before . They were heading to Managua the next day as well so I volunteered to give them a ride. I picked them up in Leon the next morning and we all headed off to Managua. They were really great people and we had a great conversation the whole way. I had decided to stay at the Crowne Plaza since I had to drop my rental car off there. When we arrived we parted ways and I headed up to my room and not a moment too soon. I had started getting diarrhea the night before but it wasnít too bad. I think I literally spent more time on the toilet then I did in my bed the entire afternoon and night. I have never had diarrhea that bad in my life. I drank bottled water the whole time so must have gotten something from the food I had ate. I took so much Imodium the next morning it should have plugged a cow up. I was worried about having the same problem on my flight home. Four days later and my stomach still isnít quite right but it is getting better.

So what did I get out of this trip? I found a place that I really love filled with some really great people and probably a place I will retire. The country has itís issues, but what country doesnít? The good outweigh the bad by far!

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