and the fight for a US visa
07.08.2011 - 16.08.2011
Having turned up too late to the bus station to get a nice, luxury international bus into Nicaragua, we had to battle with public transport. So five buses and a mad taxi ride later, we arrived in the capital, Managua. On the way to find some dinner, we stumbled across a cinema showing the new Harry Potter film in English and deciding this was an opportunity that could not be missed we treated ourself to hotdogs, popcorn and coke to satisfy our hunger. The following day my fight for a US visa began (I need a US visa as they don't accept Emergency Passports under the visa waiver scheme). The first step was to go to a bank to pay the $140 for the visa and $12 for a phone call to arrange an interview to get the thing. Easy.
Satisfied with the progress made on the visa front and having eating a lot of steak that day, we decided to head south-east to an old colonial town called Granada. The town is similar in style to Antigua in Guatemala but lacking the cobbled streets. I missed a lot of this charm, however, in hunting the town for a phone from which I was able to schedule the visa interview. Two hours later I gave up and settled down in the central plaza for a dish of Vigorón, which is a local dish of pork scratchings, yucca and cabbage served on a banana leaf; and it was cracking.
The following day I tried again to find a phone from which it was possible to ring this special number. I found a woman in an internet café that said she'd be able to help me, but that the embassy was closed that day, and to return tomorrow. Buoyed by this we spent the rest of the day wandering round and chilling out. That evening we met up with five lads who'd just ventured inland from surfing on the pacific coast, one of which was Chris' mate from home. On judgement day I turned up at the internet café, and the woman told me to come back in two hours. In two hours time she told me she couldn't do it after all. Massively aggrieved at this point, I decided to hit the most expensive-looking hotel I could find and lo-and-behold, their phone worked (though they did charge me a further $13 for the pleasure)! So with the prospect of me being able to return home renewed, we (nine of us by this point) caught the four hour ferry from Granada to La Isla de Ometepe.
Ometepe is formed from two volcanoes and is the largest freshwater island in the world, situated in the largest freshwater lake in Central America. The first couple of nights we spent here at the base of the smaller volcano; Maderas, visiting a waterfall and a few petroglyphs while there. The third day was spent at the base of the larger volcano, Concepción. The island is pretty undeveloped which made getting about difficult and as a result we spent a lot of time doing not a real lot. In hindsight, renting some motorbikes would have been ideal.
Leaving Ometepe, most of us headed back to Managua where I was to stay to attend my visa interview, while the others continued on up the coast to some village on the coast. Yesterday I had the interview and three hours in the US embassy later ... they told me to go to a bank in two days to collect my passport. So here I am in Managua, twiddling my thumbs until I can hopefully get my passport back tomorrow and join the others again.