Speaking of tours, the ship had 12 of them today. Six of them went to Leon, some had a lunch, most did not. You could visit a banana plantation, see a horse show, tour a rum distillery, or take a drive to a typical little city called Chinandega. We did that tour many years ago, as well as seeing Leon. The shortest tour was 3 hours, and the longest was 5.5 hours. The prices ranged from $55 to $120.
Hands down, it was going to be a pretty hot day with the highs in the 90's with that ever-present humidity. So we hung around the ship until all of the tours went off by 10am. What a surprise we had when we began walking through the containers in the port and extra loud firecrackers or something went off in town. Most unnerving, many people joked that the locals were picking off the tourists.
Once into the center of town outside the port gate, we discovered that a recent festival had been celebrated. It was called Feria XXI Gastronomica del Mar 2017. Guess they were still having that party, because more cherry bombs were exploded as we made our way to the center of town. They don't fool around with measly firecrackers here.
Many souvenir tables had been added, but they were mostly ceramics. Nice but extremely breakable. We did have our eye on some of the wood products, however. They are much the same as those we saw in Costa Rica, only more affordable.
Walking through this little town, we ran into many friends who were shopping for bargains. Denise and Howie had found a neat wooden sunflower to buy, and also good beers nearby. Our friend Leslie had found some practical plastic containers to use for packing, as they have been on the world cruise like us, and also have that job ahead of them.
This little town is unlike any other place we have been. Quaint streets are filled with basic housing, with a couple of main streets in the center of town having a few shops, bars, a basic market, billiard hall, barber, hairdresser, and a few clothing stores. The center of town has a central park, that was set up with numerous souvenir stands. There was a service happening in the local church, something we have never seen before.
There really is only one nice restaurant in town, and we were headed that way. Dozens of bicycle taxi locals were offering city tour rides for $5 each, we assume. They can get aggressive, but once they pick up some customers, they go away for a while. One of the places they will take the folks is the Costa Azul, advertised as a restaurant specializing in seafood. It is walkable from the ship, although we saw no one else like us doing it. It was just so blasted hot, and walking the streets outside the center of town, you will find the streets about empty of people.
As we passed by some opened doors, we could hear another soccer game being shown on TV. If nothing else, these folks have satellite dishes, and their version of ESPN.
Once at the Costa Azul, we took a table on a raised patio which overlooked the bay and the Pacific Ocean. So far there was only one other couple here from the ship, as well as a few locals. Ordering the local beer, our waitress brought over two ice cold bottles of Tona beer. The beers never tasted so good, and even better, the price was right at $2. each. Then we ordered fried white cheese on fried plantains, and one plate of chicken fingers to share. The menu was priced in US dollars, although their money, the Nicaraguan Cordoba was 28 to $1 USD. They gladly took dollars, except they had to be fairly new. The business folks do not like older soiled or torn bills. That applies to most every foreign country that accepts the US dollars.
While we savored our food and drinks, two sets of mariachi bands came along to play for the group that had gathered on this patio. There was a table for eight next to us, filled with crew members. They were really having fun listening to these fellows, laughing and joking with them, despite the fact they spoke little English. Little by little, some of the little kids began working each table with their chicklets and toys, trying to sell them to the diners. This surprised us, as the last time we were here, they were not allowed inside the café. If it wasn't for the lack of a breeze, or the music, we may have lasted longer here.
With one last chance to check out the souvenir tables, we negotiated for an unusual Brazilian wood-carved elongated platter, suitable for a loaf of French bread. This one has natural holes from the bark in it. It weighs perhaps 5 pounds, but shipping it back home should not be a problem, since there is no weight restriction shipping with Fed Ex. Oh, that reminds us…….we have to start packing soon.
It was so nice getting back onboard to cool off. If one is accustomed to extreme temps and humidity, they can tolerate much better than us visitors. One thing for certain……. the local shop owners that sell electric fans have got to be wealthy people.
All aboard was 4:30pm, and the lines were dropped shortly after that. A wonderful ocean breeze had popped up on the outside decks, and there was a promise of a good sunset. Once we exited the shelter of the little harbor, deep swells from the Pacific caused the ship to roll, and the pool water to overflow on all sides.
Heading mostly west, we went up to the upper deck and eventually the forward section on deck six. There was a bank of thick haze on the horizon, and that is where the orange sun disappeared from sight. No green flash tonight.
We both had the meatloaf for dinner, and it was especially good with frizzled onions on top and mashed potatoes on the bottom. Good old home cooking.
It had been such a hot and draining day, that we missed the show called Epic Moves, a dance duo with Latin moves and quick changes between dances. We heard it was most energetic and entertaining.
There was a nice surprise waiting for us in the room with a card from the Captain with more shipboard credit. Always a good thing.
Tomorrow will find us in Guatemala, another repeat stop from the world cruise.
Bill & Mary Ann
PS Miss Marple….yes, we highly recommend the South America/Antarctica cruise. We have done it twice.