We woke up around 6:15am in Jiquilillo and started to panic when we realized we didn’t have a lot of cash on us after giving $120 to Gerry yesterday and there are no ATMs in Jiquilillo. Luckily I opened the compartment with our Visas and IDs and found an extra $50. Our tab came to $120 after taxes and we realized how easy it is to rack up a tab when you don’t pay it daily. That’s okay though as that included our meals and accommodation for three days. After we ate breakfast, we were planning on taking the 9:30am bus to Chinandega then a bus from Chinadega to Leon. The Family from Colorado was leaving to Leon as well but they were taking a taxi. It was going to cost $35 for them and they offered us to join them for $10. Deal. It was going to cost us $6 to take the bus so this works out way better.
We were dropped off at La Union at 11:50am so we could grab more cash. We quickly went to Quetzaltrekkers to grab our passports from their safe before heading to the Market to catch the MicroBus to Esteli which was leaving at 12:45pm. When we got to the bus stop we couldn’t find our microbus. Three people pointed us in different directions, we found a big bus to Esteli but we wanted the 12:45pm Microbus. A lady pointed us back to the big bus and told us that was what was leaving at 12:45pm but the guy told us 2:15pm. We gave up and accepted that was the bus we would take.
We ended up sitting beside an older couple and after a quick exchange in Spanish between the lady and Kristi, she asked us in English, “Where are you from?” We find out that she lived in the USA for 24 years but moved back to Nicaragua 3 years ago after she divorced her husband. She now lives with her current boyfriend in Esteli. She told us she had a room for rent in Esteli at her house for $5 a night. We were under the impression that Somoto Canyon was close to Esteli so we asked if we could spend the night there and she said yes.
Once we got to Esteli at 4:30pm, we found out that it was another 90 minute bus ride to Somoto followed by a 15 minute taxi to Somoto Canyon where we were supposed to stay for the night. We say goodbye, take her phone number in case we need a place to stay the following day and to share it with Quetzaltrekkers for other travelers and walk to the bus stop where we catch the bus to Somoto. We find a bus leaving shortly, jump on and away we go.
The most fortunate part to this trip is that none of the busses have been very full. We were able to sit comfortably with no one hanging over us invading our bubble as that is often the case on the chicken bus.
Finally at 6:30pm we arrive in Somoto. We attempt to find internet but everything is closed. We walk by a place where a lady is cooking chicken in the street. I thought I was hungry but my stomach instantly said “Do not eat that” so I said screw it and will eat a good breakfast.
We try to catch a taxi but there are very few available. We get one 10 minutes later and the guy tells us 200 cords to go to Henry’s. We say no and he offers 150 cords. We still say no. We ask the guys in the office at the bus stop how much a taxi is. They tell us normally it is cheap but most taxi services are done for the night and now it’s expensive to go up there. We’re not paying 200 cords to get there as our room is 500 cords so we walk down the street and find a random place across the street from the lady cooking chicken. She’s full. We walk a bit further and find another place. The rooms from the outside look like prison cells but we have traveled for 9 hours today so we will stay almost anywhere at this point. The cost is 150 cords for a room with no bathroom, 250 cords for a room with a bathroom. We take the one with the bathroom and settle in for the night. We’ll catch a taxi to Henry’s house early in the morning and do the tour. Hopefully he’s expecting us. We ran out of Saldo (phone minutes) and wont get any again until there’s a good deal (there’s always 2x-6x offers). Hopefully we get lucky.