Nicaragua borders the Caribbean sea to the east, and Pacific ocean to the west (they can be viewed simultaneously from the top of Volcán Conception but it’s a tough 1600m scramble that requires hiking boots). With so many surfers I was surprised to read that there are only six recorded shark attacks of which 3 were in the freshwater lake of Lake Nicaragua. In the lake?! Where we swim?! I’ve just watched a YouTube clip of a shark gliding through the water and I recognised the islands, where we hired kayaks near Granada. These are Bull sharks and they thrive in both salt and freshwater. They can travel far up rivers, jumping along the rapids of the San Juan River (which connects Lake Nicaragua and the Caribbean Sea), almost like salmon.
Nicaragua lake is massive (8,264 km², the 19th largest lake in the world) but threatened by pollution. 32 tonnes of raw sewage enter daily, yet we see children playing in the shallows right beside towns. You just have to look at it to know not to swim there, even out on the distant islands I am hesitant and keep my ears, eyes and mouth dry.
Today we cycled to the east coast, where the road runs out, into gale force winds. I’m like a schoolchild, elated by the storm clouds, wind and waves (blustery days at school were always my favourite, noisier, livelier). No rain, but the lake is grey and churning, waves crashing into the shore. After so many days (months!) of sunny and dry I am thrilled to experience weather! Our bedroom window faces directly into wind on the shoreline and it is so rowdy!
The cobblestone pavers are a little bit bouncy but the road is mostly empty and pretty. We passed several cyclists using their bikes to herd six or seven horses (that’s new), and a staggering drunk (that’s not) and a pink pig that wandered into my path then scuttled away. Birds sweep everywhere, perhaps excited by the wind too? And above and between the tall trees a towering perfectly conical volcano. ‘Looks like a slag heap’ Charles ‘ You know, like South Yorkshire or South Wales’. Priceless. OK this flank is mostly unvegetated cinder and ash, but a slag heap?
There’s a swimming hole 2km from here where warm fresh spring water gushes from volcano into pools. It’s delightful, a proper swim in the forest. I like this country: friendly and positive, fewer security guards and guns. Then the young pool attendant who is stacking plastic chairs turns around and I see a pump action shotgun hanging across his back! Sadly the pool left a sting in its tail: we were bitten all over, tiny insects, the reaction maybe twenty times bigger and viciously itchy. Charles is worse, maybe 100 bites ( I was in the pool until it closed, swimming with a little freshwater turtle). So a few beers here in San Juan del Sur, and an antihistamine (antipissedamine!!) and he slept.
Somemore pictures from Granada: