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  • Writer's pictureUrsula

Honduras to Costa Rica 14.1.-2.2.23

We cross the border into Honduras without any problems in 2 hours and move into the very well-kept Terramaya Boutique Hotel in Ruinas de Copán. We still have enough time to visit the Mayan site of Copán. The ruins are distinguished mainly by the many stelae and stone figures, some of which are well preserved.

Another highlight are the many red macaws which can be found everywhere.

Copán itself is a small quaint town.

We continue to La Guama on Lago de Yojoa, where the locals like to spend the weekend.

Every restaurant serves the same food: grilled fish, shrimp or chicken, fried banana chips, pickled vegetables and beer.

The culinary delights do not keep us here for long and we cross almost the entire country to Tegucigalpa where some rest is called for. Tegucigalpa is the first place on our trip where we are advised not to walk at night. This is not disturbing because the city is anything but beautiful.

We pass the border to Nicaragua without any problems. At a crossing we are stopped by a policeman, who asks for our identity cards. He tells us that we crossed a solid line at the intersection and that he will keep our IDs until we have paid the fines in the next town. Of course we don't drive on without IDs and pay the policeman 50 dollars, of course without receipt. We need a few days to get rid of the somewhat queasy feeling towards Nicaragua. It is a pity, because the country has a lot to offer and we like it very much.

After an overnight stay in Somoto we drive to the pretty colonial city of León. First we join a city tour through the manageably large old town. We go through the market where we get to taste all kinds of sweets. We stop at some beautiful squares, at impressive murals and in the garden of a hotel from the colonial era and let the moving history and culture of Nicaragua be explained to us.

We book a private tour to the Cerro Negro volcano. After about an hour's drive, towards the end through the lava ash, we walk up to the naked black volcano. The climb is not too difficult and the heat is somewhat bearable thanks to the strong wind. At the top, a great view of the surroundings and the crater awaits us.

Now we dress ourselves with protective suits, gloves and goggles and it goes in more or less rapid ride with a board, that is a wooden board with 3 crossbars and a rope to pull up the front end of the board, the steepest flank of the volcano down. At the bottom, Thomas gets a beer and I get an energy drink. A very impressive and entertaining experience with lots of fun and action.

Back in León, the second 'must do' is on the agenda: a visit to the roof of the largest cathedral and former bishop's seat in Central America. We enjoy the white, shining roofscape with many small towers and domes.

In Granada we move into the charming and romantic Boutique Hotel Tribal for three nights. It is not quite cheap but absolutely recommendable.

The very first evening we go with a private guide and driver to Masaya National Park with the volcano of the same name and the active crater Santiago where we can marvel at the liquid red lava in the maw when it gets dark. There are many tourists here probably also because you can drive up directly to the crater by car.

Instead of a walking tour of Granada, we let a horse-drawn carriage show us the sights. There are some factories, which belong to the richest four families of Nicaragua, cathedrals and the pretty colorful rows of houses.

We stop at the large cemetery, which is all white, and at a converted train station, because the important railroad line was shut down after partially destructive natural events and the material was sold at scrap price to free up money for the state.

A leisurely boat tour through a small part of the 365 islands in Lago Cocibolca, which were created by a violent eruption of the volcano Mombacho, complete the worthwhile visit of Granada. We observe the water birds in the beautiful island landscape, discover bats and stop at the monkey island where we can observe the playful spider monkeys, which are fed with tomatoes by our guide. Afterwards we sail into the sunset. By the way, a small inhabitable island could be purchased here from 50'000 USD.

We spend two nights in an eco-yoga lodge with mediocre vegi food in the surfer resort San Juan del Sur where we visit the beach Playa Madera and the 10 meter high statue of Christ. A dinner at the sea with sunset may not be missing of course.

We say goodbye to the impressive and varied Nicaragua and cross the border to Costa Rica. The departure takes three hours, especially because our car is x-rayed and then our technical equipment is checked in detail. Night-vision binoculars and professional cameras are forbidden in Nicaragua or at least not tolerated without a permit. Fortunately, the officials decide that Thomas' old camera is only needed for tourist purposes, otherwise it would probably have been confiscated. The entry into Costa Rica is quick and we arrive in the early afternoon at the beautiful little boutique hotel Les Voiles Blanches just outside Tamarindo.

We visited Costa Rica for two months a year ago, so this time we are just passing through to Panama. Tamarindo is the most beautiful place we visited in Costa Rica, quite luxurious with many nice stores and romantic restaurants and popular with wave surfers.

Two hours before the border to Panama we spend the night in a small bungalow in the middle of the jungle in Ojochal. Surprisingly, there are a lot of exclusive restaurants here. We decide on Exotica where we are spoiled with the finest French cuisine. We are very surprised when we learn that the chef is a Costa Rican.

Finally, some impressions from the road:

Now we go to Panama where we leave the car and make a detour to Chile for a 20 day Antarctic Cruise which we will report about in March.

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