When it comes to Miami, Jodie is cursed. When we booked our flights back in July, she told me this but we went for it anyways. Every time she had flown through Miami something went wrong. She lost her passport, had her phone stolen and been delayed for 4.5hours on the tarmac. As a big believer in the whole “bad things come in threes” I told her not to worry. Surely we would be fine.
Fast forward to September 9th, sitting in our PJs early Saturday morning, drinking coffee and glued to the CNN live coverage of Hurricane Irma. She was headed straight for Miami and due to hit 2 days before our departure on the 12th. A true lesson in patience, our only option was to wait for Irma to hit Florida and for our flight to be officially cancelled. So we watched and waited, and finally late Monday afternoon we got word that our flight had been cancelled.
After spending two hours on hold, and 30 minutes spent negotiating with Flight Hub, we had secured our refund and rebooked a flight through Houston for the 13th of September. We were on!
The lead up to this trip felt different than ones that came before it. Even before Irma rocked the Caribbean, departing for a trip I had been dreaming about since I left Nicaragua in 2015 felt so surreal. The uncertainty of our departure date left us feeling in limbo. So close to realizing a long time dream of mine yet so far from touching down in Central America. All it took to kick start the excitement was the final confirmation on our new flight. I was about to embark on a one year adventure through Central and South America. I was going home to my life on the road.
Our flight was smooth and fast. As we got closer to Managua we flew over one of the most magical sights I have ever seen from a plane window. Just beyond the right wing of the plane, spanning the entire sky was an angry and electric thunderstorm. Flashes of light so bright the entire sky lit up below us. After a few tense moments of thinking we were headed straight for it, we slowly turned away and just watched the powerful display of mother nature’s fury unleash on the land below us. Heading into Central America in rainy season, this would become an almost daily treat for us.
Stepping out of the airport into the suffocating heat and humidity, we were home. We had a taxi driver meeting us to take us to our hostel. And it didn’t take long for us to succumb to the tiredness hanging in our bones.
A chicken, a taxi, a boat and a horse…
We woke up and checked out early the next morning to make the long journey from Managua to Poneloya. A 20 minute walk got us to the chicken bus stop. 52 Cordoba ($2) took us two hours on an old American school bus up to the city of Leon. We caught a $10 in a taxi got us to Cheppe’s Bar in Poneloya Beach. The final stretch cost was a boat across the lagoon for 30 Cordoba ($1) and a horse and buggy to take us the last 15 minutes down a muddy track through the wild jungle to our hostel for the next 3 nights. It cost us $8 and took 5 modes of transportation was all it took to get us to Surfing Turtle Lodge. Welcome to the life of a budget traveller.
For $13/night each we shared a private bamboo cabana, that we affectionately nicknamed “Bamboo Disco”. Open to the wildlife of Poneloya, we shared our living space with geckos, bees, mosquitos and a bird who liked to use our bed as a litter box each morning. More of a lodge than a hostel, the property boasted a lush garden, open bar/restaurant that faced the ocean. There was a volley ball court and a beach bar with a yoga studio/chill out area above it overlooking the black sand beach and crashing waves. Sunsets set the sky on fire every night as we sipped ice cold Tonas and shared stories with our new friends. And once the sun had gone down, rolling thunderstorms lit up the night sky with bolts striking the sea off in the distance.
The sea turtles of surfing turtle…
One of the most unique things about this lodge is that it has an onsite hatchery. Surfing turtle set up the hatchery to protect endangered sea turtle species in the area. We were lucky enough to have timed our stay right. While we were there, we got to help release 16 baby sea turtles to the ocean. Inconceivably small and incredibly intuitive, we watched them shuffle their way down to the sea. The waves crashed closer and closer till the tiny turtles were washed out to begin their long lives at sea.
Our first week in Nicaragua was the perfect ease back into travelling we needed. We had made it home.