Sometimes it is not that easy to cross a border as it seems. When leaving El Salvador I had to queue up for about 30 minutes. There were a hell lot of people and cars at the border, wanting to leave El Salvador. I am writing „to leave El Salvador“ and not „to enter Honduras“, because I have no clue where all these people went off after leaving El Salvador. They certainly did not show up at the Honduran migration office…
When standing in the line to get my passport stamped in El Salvador I already though „oh no, I am gonna have to queue up for the same time again when entering Honduras“. But no. There was almost no one at the Honduran counter. So, somehow all this people leaving El Salvador got lost somewhere between the border from one country to the other. Maybe it was also because of the way the female officer at the Honduran office processed the tourists and their visas. There just was no queue as she handled everyone at the same time. Or at least tried to.
Normally, when you are at the border and ask why you have to pay for the visa again, the officers just say nothing much but that this is the rule. But this time the women at the Honduras border just went crazy about it. She did not want to give me a visa anymore (which I urgently needed to cross Honduras to reach Nicaragua) and told me to talk to her boss. So her boss made me wait for 30 minutes and then just told me something about American visas, which I did not really get. And that some country has a really high visa fee, so all foreigners have to pay 3 Dollars in order to split it up. Or something like that. Well, but in the end I got my visa and I could go on.
|The white roof of the cathedral in León.|
After 12 hours traveling I finally reached León. León is loud, hot and dusty. It is an old colonial city overcrowded by hostels and tourists. Fancy bars pop up at every corner, hosting posh Nicaraguan students and backpackers alike. All I wanted after a 12 hour ride was something fast to eat and sleep. The hostel staff sent me to one of these nearby fancy pubs. When standing in front of it, I quarreled with myself as this is gonna be very expensive. But I wanted dinner. Now. Yes, but it was a bad decision.
I went for a simple hamburger and a pineapple smoothie. And I waited. And waited. And waited. After half an hour my pineapple drink showed up. I emptied it. I started to eat the paper napkin. Which turned out horrible, so I started to make little paper balls and aimed at my empty pineapple drink glass. After what seemed like an eternity, but actually was only one hour and 15 minutes, my hamburger showed up. All I can say to that is, that I have eaten much better hamburgers to a much lower price. I ate and left.
After an horrible night in the hostel with the night concierge playing Bejeweled Blitz the whole night on full sound, I got up the next morning, forgot about the yesterday and thought that it will be a great day. But it wasn’t. At the cathedral they gave me a wrong ticket for a tour with an actually much lower price. I only realized that afterwards, though. However, when I went back later, they remembered me and gave me the correct ticket. The white roof of the cathedral is quite stunning and you get a nice view over the city. The market is right next to it and there the food women sell nice, homemade and cheap food. So in the end a bad day turned good again.
|Looking over the Laguna de Apoya. Can you spot Granada and the Nicaragua lake in the background?|
The next stop on my tour was Granada. Also a colonial city, also overcrowded by even more tourists, hostels and fancy restaurants. But, it is situated right next to the Nicaragua lake. Granada seems like a city out of space. It is too clean, too renovated and too chic. Everything is ready made for the tourist crowds that flock to the city. The locals are nice, but still there is this slight, subconscious feeling that they are actually fed up by the tourists masses. Furthermore, it seems like the city banned almost all street vendors, cheap comedores and food stalls from the street.
I have been looking for „Nicaragua“ for two days now in Granada, but I cannot really find it. I went to the market, I tried a sort of comedor, I headed out of the common tourists streets, but it is not the same feeling I got in other Central American cities. I reached Europe somehow.
|Granada’s Central Park with the cathedral hiding behind the trees.|