Viva la vida!
Four weeks can be a short period of time when you want to see all Central America, but we decided to try anyway : instead of visiting one country on the whole, we choose two or three notable places for each country and then go for it! Let’s try and see what the road brings to us, being prepared to change itineraries if necessary.
So, once arrived in Guatemala, we headed to Antigua, climb the Pacaya Volcano as any good backpacker do here, and then on to Atitlan Lake for two days. From there back in Guatemala City to take a necessary plane to the north to see the magnificent archeologic site of Tikal.
Then, we went by bus to Belize. Belize is an exception in Central America. It is a country populated by black people , english speaking (it was a United Kingdom’s colony). We went straight to the small island of Caye Caulker to see the big reef (second only to the great Australian one) and we stayed for a while doing snorkeling on the Blue Hole (an incredible circular “hole” 240ft deep and 300ft wide) with the company of BIG bull sharks (i was terryfied , i admit) swimming just a few meters below us.
From Belize City we took a flight to San Salvador (the capital of El Salvador) attracted by the stories of guerrilla we had heard when we were kids. In fact El Salvador is a fantastic country and the stories of danger and murders are exaggerated. Still, San Salvador in some part is really scary and one have to be careful when walking around.
In El Salvador we discovered two nice places : Suchitoto and Juayua. Two simple town full of great people with lots of stories to tell about the dark years of the USA backed atrocity. A history lesson. We went to see the guerrilla camp in the jungle and one of the place – Cinquera – were many unarmed people were massacred by the army looking for “communists”. In fact the communists in El Salvador at those times were very few, the majority of the population was simply tired of being exploited by the rich and the army, too.
After a tour (this time only nature, no history) in the coffee plantations and the waterfalls around Juayua, and a short break in San Salvador we left El Salvador by Bus to Nicaragua, destination Leon.
The history of Leon and Granada (the third and second biggest city in Nicaragua respectively) is the story of two enemy cities, being Leon a “leftist” city and Granada the most conservative place in Nica. Leaving behind the political matters, both town have a charming city centre (Granada almost as polished as any western town) and horrible suburbs, were people live in terrible conditions. The best experience we had here, apart form the cultural things, was the encounter of a Spanish guy (i should say Catalan) Tio Antonio, who had come here for business and ended up founding an association to protect and give jobs to the children of Granada. Take a look at his site, he’s a great person.
From Granada we went on to Isla Ometepe, one of the world’s biggest lake island, formed by two volcanoes joined by an isthmus, and then back to the border of Costa Rica. In Costarica we visited Tortuguero, one of the most interesting place. It’s a beach were every year hundreds of Giant Green Turtles (250 kg!) come to lay their eggs. We had the opportunity to see them at night actually laying their eggs and then slowly go back to the ocean.
From there by boat we reach Panama Border to go to the fabulous archipelago of Bocas del Toro to have some days of rest, then on to Panama City to see the Panama Canal then at the Airport for the return flight.
It was an amazing journey through many cultures, glimpses of many different landscapes, faces, and places we will never forget.
Viva la Vida!
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