Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: Chocoyero

  1. #1

    Default Chocoyero

    On Friday October 26th, (after a day resting from my trip to the San Juan river) I decided to head back to La Concha to try out another point on the compass. On my first trip, I headed south to San Marcos, and the turned east to Masatepe. On my second trip, I headed east to Arenal, and continued east to Masatepe. On this trip, I decided to head north to San Juan de La Concha.

    Every time I took a microbus from Masaya to La Concha, I traveled the same way--north toward Managua, and then west through Tipitapa and then south on into San Juan and La Concha. Because of this, I had a pretty good idea of how nice the view would be walking down from La Concha towards San Juan. I wasnít disappointed.

    The day was overcast, but I could still see clearly down across San Juan, and even down to Ticuantepe, including the mountains to the west. As always, I started out in La Conchaís central park. This walk was unique, in that I had done it before several times when I lived in La Concha 15 years ago--my first experience ever in Nicaragua.

    Because of this, I got to experience my own nostalgia in addition to the moment. Part way down the hill, I came across a familiar concrete graded decent (like enormous stairs) directly into the higher part of San Juan. Iíve taken that path before, as well as following the road as it winds around to the side of the town. I decided to take the road this time as it affords a better view.

    The street came out on the east side of San Juanís park, what the bus drivers like to call La cancha (The court--like basketball court). I found this confusing, since theyíd ask, ďAnyone getting off at la cancha, and this sounds an awful lot like La Concha.

    Anyway, I cut across the field and then followed the main road through the town until I was almost out of it on the far side. There, I stopped into a corner shop that sold chocolate banana drinks, and I enjoyed one before continuing my journey.

    As I left the limits of San Juan it started to rain. I figured a little rain would be nice; Itíd cool me off. What started out as a little rain turned into a full fledged deluge that keep going for well over an hour. I donít think Iíve ever been wetter, even when submerged in water. The rain was constantly flowing over me like I was standing under a waterfall.

    Yes, it cooled me off, but then it started to chill me. Imagine that, I actually felt chilled by weather in Nicaragua. I didnít let the rain stop me, I plodded along in waterlogged boots through the flooded highway.

    I came to several bridges and sharp turned on this road all with spectacular views on the mountains to the west and the volcano to the east. Iíd stop at each of these and take several minutes to soak it in as the rain washed over me relentlessly. The clouds were low and created a fun effect as the drifted through the mountains in the distance. Some faded to opaque shadows and other were brought into focus in the foreground.

    Iím sure the views would have been impressive on a sunny day, but in a downpour they had so much more character. Iím grateful it rained.

    Around half way down the road between San Juan and Ticauntepe (kilometer 22), I ran across a sign for a national reserve called Chocoyero. My friend Flor and he little sister had told me about the place and had recommended it to me. My original plan was to walk to Ticuantepe, but I called an audible and turned off towards Chocoyero.

    I moto-taxi was emerging from this this turnoff just as I was entering. I stopped him and asked him how much heíd charge to take me to Chocoyero. He told me heíd charge C$60. The sign at the turnoff said Chocoyero was only 5 kilometers off, and C$60 seemed expensive for a moto-taxi, so I turned him down.

    I found out later that the 5 kilometer sign is quite inaccurate.

    I walked down a steep slope into a ravine, and then I climbed a steep slope back, and then I repeated this a few more times. I was passed by bikers on the down slopes. Then, I would pass them on the up slopes, as they had to dismount and walk the bikes--itís that steep. Plus, I make great time walking uphill.

    I reached a small town after a few kilometers (between 2-3, Iíd say). I walked through this town and down another steep drop. Half way up the other side, a pickup truck passed me, and then stopped. They allowed me to jump in the back, and they drove me about Ĺ a kilometer past some massive pineapple fields before our paths diverged and I had to jump out.

    The trail deteriorated the farther I went. In many places it was cut by creeks, so of them so deep I saw a motorcycle get stuck while trying to power across. In other places, the trail was the path of the water. I had to pick my way through mud and try to walk on thick grass on the extreme sides to avoid the water.

    From the bridges and sharp turns high above as I descended from San Juan, I saw the mountains to the west and wondered what might be out in them and what it must be like to be out in them. The trail to Chocoyero took me out into those same mountains.

    After the small town and the pineapple fields, I walked another few kilometers, and then I reached a sign saying that Chocoyero was still 2.5 kilometers off. As I mentioned previously, the initial estimate on the highway is laughable. It occurred to me that the C$60 quoted by the moto-taxi was a bargain.

    I passed a smattering of houses and then hit a stretch of nothing but coffee plants. Around the time I hit the coffee, I began to notice that I was entering a valley between two spurs of those western mountains. I glanced up and saw cliff faces to either side.

    This last stretch of the trail in the coffee valley between the cliffs was my favorite part. The sun was out at this time after the storm, and the light was playing trough the trees and the cliffs were casting long shadows. Even if a person chooses to visit Chocoyero in a car or on a bike, I recommend getting out/off and walking the last kilometer or so. Itís a choice spot.

    I heard a low and loud growl under the coffee plants when I passed by a huge boulder inexplicably sitting by the trail. There were no other rocks of any size anywhere else on the trail, so a truck sized boulder seems out of place. The growl startled me into drawing my buck knife. I tried to peer under to low coffee plants to identify whatever growled, but I couldnít see it. It sounded like some sort of largish cat.

    Shortly after I was startled, an old man came walking down the trail the other direction. I respectfully sheathed my knife and warned him about the growl.

    Right before I arrive at the entrance to Chocoyero, I felt a twinge in my right knee--like the one I felt when I walked from El Mirador de Catarina to Masaya. I knew that I had been walking for over four hours over rough terrain in waterlogged boots, so I wasnít surprised. However, I was a bit alarmed. I had a very long walk in front of me just to get back out to the highway.

    I stopped to rest at the entrance to Chocoyero and chatted with the elderly man who worked there--collecting fees, answering questions, and serving as a guide if needed. He told me that in order to get to the Chocoyero cliffs and waterfall, that I would need to walk another kilometer or so more. He also explained that there were many much longer trails to explore in the park. One of them is so long that it requires an entire day and a paid guide.

    So, it makes more sense to drive to Chocoyero and then take a hike, instead of hiking to Chocoyero. Oh well, I enjoyed my hike in.

    After 15-20 minutes of rest, I decided itíd be criminal to leave without seeing the Chocoyero cliffs, so I sucked it up, paid to entrance fee (C$90), and walked into the park.

    He told me to stay right at every fork and Iíd end up at the cliffs/falls. I did, and he was right.

    The path inside the park was even more nestled than in the coffee valley. The trees grew over the trail so completely in most places, I felt like I was walking down a hallway or a cave. The trees would only open up occasionally to let the sunlight spill in and offer a view of the high cliffs on either side. The sun through those gaps blinded me each time I crossed it, because it was so much brighter than the permanent twilight under the canopy.

    My knee was complaining to me the entire way there, but I decided to ignore it and see what would happen. Iíd felt pain in Nicaragua before, but Iíd never had it actually fail yet--like when I pushed myself too far in the States.

    Before I reached the cliffs I heard frantic chirping flowing through the unseen tops of the trees above the trail. The chirping would occur in moving waves. I figured I was hearing a large flock of birds moving as a group through the treetops.

    When I got to the cliffs/falls, the canopy opened up and allowed me to look up and appreciate the entire cliff face. High above me in the cliff face, I could see pocket sized holes with small bright green parrots--the Nicaraguan ďChocoyos.Ē When I was there, I couldnít see more then a few dozen actually in their holes, but judging my the sound of the chirping as I approached, Iím guessing there are at least a hundred of them.

    Thereís a wooden walkway and bridges (all with railings) build around the cliffs and the falls. The culturally programmed American in me told me to stay on the path, but the Nicaraguan in me told me, ďOh, screw it,Ē so I hopped the railing and climbed right down to the falls and the cliff face.

    The water from the falls are collected at the base into some sort of pure water trap, so I couldnít let it fall on me. I did get a better look at it though (and the cliff face) from right up next to it. I followed a well worn path down and back, so Iím guessing that most people listen more to their inner Nicaraguan when they visit.

    I tried to rest at the cliffs for a bit to see if this would help my knee, but it didnít. Every step on my way back out was more painful than the previous one. I took my time so that I could enjoy the experience of being in the Chocoyero park despite my knee, but this wasnít easy.

    The pain was so bad when I got to the entrance, that I asked the old man if he had a phone so that I could try and call for a taxi. I explained my knee pain, and he offered to let me take a bike out to the main road, and then heíd have a family member (who lived close) ride it back to the park.

    I gratefully accepted his kindness, but before he could get the bike, a large white pickup pulled up and a family piled out. I told him that Iíd wait to see if they could give me a ride out instead, and he seemed to think this was a much better idea than the bike.

    Luckily, the family had only come to see what it was like, not to stay. After they got the skinny from the old man, they headed back to their truck. As luck would have it, the guy offered me a ride. I happily jumped in back, but he told me to take shotgun.

    I told him that I was still wet from walking through a downpour, and that Iíd prefer the back so that I donít get his seats wet. However, he insisted until I agreed to take a seat up front. His wife and two children sat in the large back seat.

    I learned that his first language was English and that he spent most of his life working with the trolleys in San Francisco. He was retired and living in Nicaragua now with his wife and kids. He had brought the truck with him from California.

    So, the fates had brought me an ex-pat in my time of need. The plan was to take me out to carretera Masaya as they live in Managua and let me catch a bus back to Masaya. However, they decided to head up to Masaya for the celebration of the dead in Masaya, the Nicaraguan Halloween. As a result, they dropped me off only two blocks from my apartment at the gas station by the San Jeronimo statue.

    Even so, I had to limp the two blocks to my door. I shudder to think what would have happened to me if they hadnít happened by.

    I can walk for up to 4 hours straight in Nicaragua without any problems. If I extend beyond that (6-8 hours) then Iím running the risk of maxing out. Now I know.

    Chocoyero is beautiful. The trail to Chocoyero is beautiful. The road down from La Concha trough San Carlos and down to the entrance to Chocoyero is beautiful. I recommend them all highly. I just donít recommend trying to walk them all in the same day with heavy boots through a torrential downpour.
    Soy el chele mono.

  2. #2
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Pompano Beach, Florida
    Posts
    10,096
    Blog Entries
    5

    Default Re: Chocoyero

    I agree...Chocoyero is a real treat.

    Nice post.
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Chocoyero

    Jeez, and people say that there is nothing to see in Nicaragua.

    The list is getting LOOONG.

    Thanks for all the ideas.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Chocoyero

    Quote Originally Posted by KeyWestPirate View Post
    Jeez, and people say that there is nothing to see in Nicaragua.
    Who have you been talking to? Those people are flat nuts. I've spent nearly four years in Nicaragua all told (between many different trips), and I still find new things to see every time I go.
    Soy el chele mono.

  5. #5
    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Jinotega, Nicaragua
    Posts
    830
    Blog Entries
    29

    Default Re: Chocoyero

    Quote Originally Posted by drlemcor View Post
    Who have you been talking to? Those people are flat nuts. I've spent nearly four years in Nicaragua all told (between many different trips), and I still find new things to see every time I go.
    While here is very beautiful, other places in Central America are beautiful and have Mayan ruins.

    I like Nicaragua; I live here. I love the view from my front door and walking in the mercado is like dancing.

    But....

    A friend of mine wants me to meet her in Copan when her dog dies -- she doesn't care that Nicaragua is safer. She wants the Mayan ruins, the indigenous culture with home weaving traditions intact, as well as the tropics.

    It's a beautiful planet.

    One of the pieces of advice people give to US mountain county administrators is that tourism is dodgy as a thing to pour county money into because there are a lot of mountains from Maine to Georgia and they all have pretty much the same culture (fiddle music, dancing) and mountains. Absent significant other considerations, it's often a race to being the cheapest place with cool scenery.

    People are never going to see all of even one state, or one Central American country. Given the miles of streets, it's impossible to see everything that's in New York City in a lifetime, either.

    Thing is tourists generally choose a place that has the mix of what they want to see and reasonable accommodations, and a lot of people like two-fers. What's to see here that isn't also in Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica, or Panama? (Colcibolca, obviously, and the Rio San Juan are two I can think of, but Guatemala also has a large lake and beyond a certain point, bigger is more invisible than not). I can tell you what isn't here -- Mayan ruins, or very much more than some sculptures and petroglyphs on the Pacific side of the country (someone posted photos of ruins on the Atlantic Coast, but how accessible is that).

    Great place to live, but I can't imagine getting most of the people I know who do travel fairly regularly to come here other than to Granada, and friends' friends didn't find that as fabulous as they expected.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Chocoyero

    Quote Originally Posted by MizBrown View Post
    is tourists generally choose a place that has the mix of what they want to see and reasonable accommodations, and a lot of people like two-fers. What's to see here that isn't also in Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Costa Rica, or Panama? (Colcibolca, obviously, and the Rio San Juan are two I can think of, but Guatemala also has a large lake and beyond a certain point, bigger is more invisible than not). I can tell you what isn't here -- Mayan ruins, or very much more than some sculptures and petroglyphs on the Pacific side of the country (someone posted photos of ruins on the Atlantic Coast, but how accessible is that).
    There are ancient drawings on rocks below the Monimbo neighborhood of Masaya towards the lagoon. These I've seen personally. I've heard Nicaraguan speak of others (many on the Pacific side of the country) that I have not.

    Nicaragua boasts tribes with much of their old heritage/culture in the Miskito, Rama, and Sumo (these are the only ones I know, but there may be more). I haven't had a chance to live among these peoples and expeience their uniqueness, but I've talked to those who have.

    These groups have fought hard to resist Spanish and now U.S. culture and have succeeded in a certain degree of autonomy that isn't based on tourism. I've seen the native villages in Panama that are celebrated for their authentic dress and lifestyle. They subsist on tourism entirely now. I suggest that the Miskito, Rama, and Sumo are more true to their roots than those tribes co opted by tourism.

    I understand that too much tourism in Nicaragua will have the same effect as it has everywhere else, and I also understand that it's a bit unorthodox to argue for tourism in Nicaragua given this understanding. That being said, in many ways a visit to Nicaragua is like havng a chance to visit Guatamala or Panama or Honduras or Belize or Costa Rica 60 years ago (or more). Much of it is still unspoiled in a wonderful way.

    I lived in Montana for several years as a teenager. I remember my 12th grade english teacher telling me once that she encourages stories of harsh unforgiving winters, wild animal attacks, and frontier style lawlessness about Montana, because she doesn't want anyone else to come up there and ruin it. I'd take a similar tack with Nicaragua if I didn't feel that Nicaragua's special blend of crazy wasn't doing a good enough job of limiting the number of tourists without my help.
    Soy el chele mono.

  7. #7
    The Bard of Jinotega MizBrown's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Jinotega, Nicaragua
    Posts
    830
    Blog Entries
    29

    Default Re: Chocoyero

    Quote Originally Posted by drlemcor View Post
    There are ancient drawings on rocks below the Monimbo neighborhood of Masaya towards the lagoon. These I've seen personally. I've heard Nicaraguan speak of others (many on the Pacific side of the country) that I have not.

    Nicaragua boasts tribes with much of their old heritage/culture in the Miskito, Rama, and Sumo (these are the only ones I know, but there may be more). I haven't had a chance to live among these peoples and expeience their uniqueness, but I've talked to those who have.

    These groups have fought hard to resist Spanish and now U.S. culture and have succeeded in a certain degree of autonomy that isn't based on tourism. I've seen the native villages in Panama that are celebrated for their authentic dress and lifestyle. They subsist on tourism entirely now. I suggest that the Miskito, Rama, and Sumo are more true to their roots than those tribes co opted by tourism.

    I understand that too much tourism in Nicaragua will have the same effect as it has everywhere else, and I also understand that it's a bit unorthodox to argue for tourism in Nicaragua given this understanding. That being said, in many ways a visit to Nicaragua is like havng a chance to visit Guatamala or Panama or Honduras or Belize or Costa Rica 60 years ago (or more). Much of it is still unspoiled in a wonderful way.

    I lived in Montana for several years as a teenager. I remember my 12th grade english teacher telling me once that she encourages stories of harsh unforgiving winters, wild animal attacks, and frontier style lawlessness about Montana, because she doesn't want anyone else to come up there and ruin it. I'd take a similar tack with Nicaragua if I didn't feel that Nicaragua's special blend of crazy wasn't doing a good enough job of limiting the number of tourists without my help.
    The Atlantic Coast groups have a very unique approach to tourists -- they charge them very interesting prices for the privilege of entering indigenous lands, I've read.

    The groups around here have really nothing left of indigenous culture -- Somoza decided to stamp out the weaving traditions, and the languages are gone, though there's still a Counsel of the Elders in Jinotega near the USA Articulos store. Not really a tourist attraction at all. Same thing happened to the indigenous people in Matagalpa -- they exist but they dress in jeans and speak Spanish.

    One of my friends here said Nicaragua (our city, in particular) is like living in London just after the end of WWII.

    Go over to the other site and see the thread on tourism that John/Key West Pirate started: "Some Day, We'll...." We've fought this war a number of times.

    If the charm of Nicaragua now for some tourists is that there are few tourists here and the country hasn't been turned into Panama or Cancun, I'm not sure that's in the best interests of Nicaraguans, but I'd rather see them develop a diverse economy, with Nicaraguan-owned tourism as part of the mix, rather than be turned into Entertainment Land for foreigners, whether quaint and unspoiled or developed and without Nicaraguans present except as staff.

Similar Threads

  1. Chocoyero--2 thumbs up
    By Gringo Canuck in forum Tourism Activities and General Travel Issues
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 08-20-2012, 11:37 AM
  2. Parque Nacional El Chocoyero
    By Josť in forum Nicaragua Scrapbook
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 03-08-2007, 11:29 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Also visit the False Bluff Blog!