04.01.2008 - 11.01.2008 26 °C
I continued my surfing education over the following days, though after being stung by stingrays (once in each foot) I decided to try again on another beach, another time.
Before leaving San Juan del Sur I joined an expedition to watch sea turtles lay their eggs on the beach at night. The sheer size of the turtles and the effort they would put into digging a hole for a nest was incredible.
I also helped to release baby sea turtles on the shore - though their failure to appreciate the direction of the sea helps to explain why only 0.1% ever reach adulthood!
The morning after I travelled inland to Lake Nicaragua where I stayed on Isla de Ometepe - an island formed when two volcanoes erupted and the resulting lava created an isthmus joining the two volcanoes.
Arriving by ferry the most striking observation is the dense, lush foliage of the rainforest on the island. I stayed in a remote farm accommodation which made up for its inaccessibility with stunning views.
The cost of lodging ($2 a night) was great too. However, this was partially explained when I found rats had created a hole in my rucksack and eaten the bread inside whilst I was away.
In order to see as much of the island as possible, over the next two days I hiked and cycled over fifty kilometres of extremely difficult, uphil terrain. I just about managed to haul myself up to a 150m waterfall in the rainforest before the forest lived up to its name and I, following Humpety Dumpety's example, had a great fall as I slipped in the mud and had a spectacular, slow motion tumble to the soggy ground. Luckily, I managed to put myself back together again without the aid of all the kings horses and continued on my way. As I did I saw several eagles, lizards, exotic birds and butterflies and, best of all, howler monkeys.
However, by my third day on the island my saddle sore body could take no more, so after a gentle stroll around the farm I caught the bus towards the port in preparation for the 5 30 boat to the mainland the next morning.
A day I had long been dreading was spent crossing the border into Costa Rica, and after numerous bus connections, I eventually reached the town of La Fortuna which lies in the shadow of the active Volcan Arenal. Here I joined a tour to watch the lava flow from the volcano, but due to the increased use of common sense in Costa Rica we observed the lava from a distance of 600m, as opposed to the 15m I had experienced in Guatemala. Nevertheless, we were able to listen to the ominous eruptions of gas from deep within the volcano. Trekking to the volcano was an adventure in itself, as we hiked through the very noisy rainforest at night and, by torchlight, examined small, colourless frogs that clung to the trees around us.
The tour also included a visit to the nearby natural hot springs. In my head I conjured up an idyllic, relaxing scene of geothermally heated water. However, the reality proved quite different. Just downstream from a local resort we were escorted by the guides to the river - surrounded by litter and old pipes. The water was indeed wonderfully warm - akin to stepping into a bath - but the scene was similar to an M25 underpass. Moreover, because of the dark we had no idea how clean the water was. It was certainly an interesting experience!
Yesterday I hiked to another waterfall and swam with the fish in the beautiful, milky blue water...lets hope the water at the hot springs looked the same!