Friday, September 28, 2012

Day 1-2 Buses

Sorry this is a really long one with not many photos. I just had to get my crazy journey down. From now on I will try and keep it short, sweet and with lots of photos.

As I am writing this I am looking out over a grove of banana trees, the volcano Consepcion making a dramatic backdrop to the view.  What lead to my sitting here looking at this tropical wash of green from the golden hills of California?  I have to start with buses because they are in fact where my Nicaraguan experience began....or maybe I have to go back to the taxi which led to the bus.

At the hostel in Managua they tell me not to try and walk to Mercado Huembes, where I will be catching my first bus of the day, but to take a taxi. Its before 7am and already I'm dripping sweat, the idea of a 30 minute walk with my 40 lbs. of big backpack, small backpack and purse sounds terrible. I take their advice and let them call me a taxi.  20 minutes later the taxi honks from the street outside the hostel gates and we are off. The first order of  business is to find an ATM, I need cash. The first place we stop, a gas station, is a swing and a miss. The machine tells me it can not help me at this time. The next place we stop, a shinny commercial center, is better, 2,3000 crisp cordabas bills come out. Its a bit intoxicating holding that many bills even if its only only the equivalent of $100. Money in hand we head for Mercado Huembes a teaming market from which the buses to Rivas leave. I don't get a chance to look around because a man from the bus company meets my taxi and insists on carrying my backpack, on his head no less. I see that assertions that, I can in fact carry my own bag are going completely unheard, and go with the flow. What ells can I do but follow my backpack?

My backpack makes its way onto a partially full bus bound for Rivas. The bus men tell me we will be leaving in 30 minutes. They sit me in the last row, on the isle. As it turns out this is possibly the very worst seat on the bus. On Nicaraguan buses you want the window seat somewhere need the middle of the buss. When the buss leaves the market, only 5 minutes late, almost all the seats are full. Not 5 minutes down the road, the man standing at the back of the bus issues a piercing whistle and the bus comes to a stop. The back door opens and several people clime on.

Nicaraguan buses have two people working on them. One drives the bus and the other takes money, and orchestrates the comings and goingsmost of which happen through the back door, next to where I am sitting. Using a system of two whistle patterns he signals to the driver to stop and go.  

After all the seats are full the isle begins to fill starting at the back. By 30 minutes into the 2 hour ride my head is in someone's armpit and I am wedged into the man next to me so tightly neither of us can move. Every time someone new gets on or off the standing passengers shift sometimes alleviating the jam but mostly making it worse. When there is no more room inside the bus, the new passengers start riding on the roof rack. But it turns out this is illegal, even in Nicaragua. The stop whistle shrills out followed by "police, police, get inside!" So, everyone who was hanging off the back or on the roof piles in, worsening the jam. 

When we finally make it to Rivas a taxi driver, again ignores my assertions that I can in fact carry my own backpack and we pile into the taxi. The ride to the port is a mater of minutes. The wait for the ferry is another story completely.  I was told by the taxi driver and others that the next ferry left at 11:30am but in fact it was not until 12:45pm that we got underway.

The boat was a rustic tub of a thing which was very charming and made the most ungodly racket. As soon as  I was situated in the seats on the lower story I promptly fell asleep. I dozed through most of the hour trip.

Disembarking in Moyogalpa, my ears were ringing in the silence after the boat's engine. There only are only a few buses which go all the way down to Balgue so I had to wait. For the next few hours I read my book and got to know a few other travelers also waiting for buses. When the bus did come I was sure to take a window seat in the middle of the bus. During the two hour ride around the island (look at the map on my earlier post) we passed one student marching band, one politician speaking in the back of a truck and one religious procession.

When I finally made it to the village of Balgue the sun was setting, and a light mist was falling. Getting off the bus the driver pointed down the road and told me Finca Bona Fide was that direction, just follow the road. 20 minutes later as the last of the light was fading I stumbled into the circle of light which is the heart of the finca, the kitchen. 38 hours, 2 plain, 2 buses, 2 taxis and 1 big hike later I had made it Finca Bona Fide.


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