September 03, 2009 GMT
Nicaragua to Costa Rica

The next day we were up early after a great night’s sleep in our air conditioned room, we gobbled up our free breakfast, and headed out to the Volcan Masaya, at last , a volcano that you could ride straight to the top of. No 4 hour hikes for this city slicker!
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We rode up to the top , walked around the circumference of the crater and peered over the edge into the abyss, and then walked along the ridge of two extinct craters and looked out over the lake below. We walked and talked about what to do next , decided to head to the volcanic island of Omatepe, and rode back down the mountain and south towards Omatepe.
The sun was shining as we rode on the highway south, and we made good time. We pulled into a little town for a quick stop, a bottle of coke and some lunch. At the entrance to town, a truck was unloading some horses, and all the way into town were cowboys prepping their horses. We arrived at the town square, which was positively buzzing. We sat down at a Soda, a typical Costa Rican restaurant, and got talking with the family that ran it. It seemed our luck was in , we had turned up on the Fiesta de Caballos.
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We waited around for half an hour as the horses arrived in the town en masse. The riders were young and old, men and women of all types. There were rich looking Spanish colonials on beautiful white thoroughbreds, drunk old men , holding each other up on their horses, young boys racing up and down the street. The party got rowdier and rowdier, and more and more guys were falling off their horses, completely drunk.
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The Horses arriving in town, a bunch of guys holding their drunken mates on their horses...
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The mobile Disco

Firecrackers were being set off, brass bands played carnival style in the back of pick up trucks rolling slowly down the cobbled streets, we considered staying the night , putting off our visit to Omatepe for a day, and really getting involved in the party, but as the afternoon wore on, we decided we had seen enough pissed horsemen for one day , so we headed out , and rode the remaining 60 kms to the ferry to Omatepe.
We arrived, bought our tickets, and rode down to wait for the boat.
Seeing the ferry approach, my heart skipped a beat. The ferry was listing terribly, and the upper deck was packed with travelers leaving the island, and trucks returning to the mainland.
I was not looking forward to the trip. I rode onto the deck as instructed, and with the deckhands , tied the bike to the railings and the doorframe of the pickup parked next to me.
With the bike secure as it could be, and the alarm turned off, I went and joined Jacquie upstairs on the deck for the hour long crossing. It was a beautiful time to cross the lake, the sun was setting and the water was fairly still, a cool breeze kept the heat at bay, and Jacquie and I relaxed and talked with fellow travelers on the deck.
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Every time the boat lurched, my heart skipped a beat...
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Sunset from the Ferry, with Omatepe in the distance

We arrived at Omatepe , rode off the boat , and headed out in search of a hostel. We decided to ride to the next town, as the port town was not too appealing, but after riding 40 minutes in the dark, avoiding rogue cows and horses in the middle of the road, and not being able to find the town we were looking for, we turned back and got a room in on of the hostels in town. We had a chilled evening of Pizza, Flor De Cana, and went to bed rested, and ready for a ride around the island in the morning.
Garth settled in the bar for the night

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We set off to cross the island, and try to reach our friends who were staying in a farm at the top of one of the volcanic mountains. We crossed the island, were directed back to the turnoff that we had missed, and after a Pina in agua ( fresh pineapple juice blended with water) , continued along the dirt road that wound along side the beach and upwards to the volcano.
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We reached the beach after about 40 minutes of bumping and grinding along for 11kms, and decided not to go any further. We strolled along the beach, then rode back to the dock, got back on the ferry, and made our way to our next stop , San Juan del Sur.
Guillermo and our new Harley friends had all recommended this beach town to us, and Jacquie and I were looking forward to it. It was also to be our last stop before entering Costa Rica.
We arrived in San Juan way before the busses, but still had a hard time finding a room, we bumped into a Honduran guy that Jacquie had got talking to on the boat who now lived in San Juan, and he took us all around the town, showing us our lodging options, we finally settled on the same place that he was staying in, a small family house being run as a sort of guest house. Mumma, her family, and the dog welcomed us intop their home. Walking around San Juan that evening, we really started to like the place .

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The Family we stayed with in San Juan

We ate BBQ burgers outside a funky bar, and then walked along the beach and had cocktails in one of the beach bars. Everyone was really friendly and the town had a laid back , easy going feel to it.
Fishing boats were anchored in the bay, and a huge statue of Jesus looked out to see from the top of the hill above the beach.
We bumped into a few people we had met on the way down, and made a plan to take the bus up to Maderas beach together the next day.
We got on the “bus” which was one of those All Terrain trucks, and trundled off to the beach. As directed by those in the know, we walked 10 minutes along the beach until we came to Matilda’s hostel, a little gem of a place, and the only building on the huge, beautiful beach.

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Maderas was probably the best beach we had come across since Tulum, and although the accommodation at Matlida’s was basic, the setting was divine. There was the beautiful beach in front of the hostel, and another one, even more gorgeous two minutes walk away, behind the hostel. On top of that, more of our friends that we had made in Belize and Guatemala were there too, armed with a Piñata for my belated birthday.

We all had a great night of rum drinking and Piñata smashing, and somehow I got talked into taking my first surf lesson with the girls, so , bright and early ( about midday actually) I headed back down the beach to where we had been dropped off the day before for my surf lesson, and to my surprise, and all those around me, I was up on the board on my first attempt, sweet!
I exhausted myself within an hour or so and went and collapsed on the beach for a while before walking back to our spot at Matilda’s. One more night in this beach paradise, and we were back in San Juan Del Sur for one more night before heading on to Costa Rica.

Posted by Dan Shell at September 03, 2009 09:20 PM GMT

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