The main event of the week has been Dean’s birthday. It’s hard to make one day seem more special than the rest when every day is a holiday, and when you’re in an isolated jungly part of Nicaragua. It’s also more or less impossible to surprise a person you’re with 24/7 and the exchange of presents when your life is carried on your back is undesirable for both parties! Consequently I’m not sure I did a very good job of celebrations, though Dean seemed content enough.
Our itinerary for Nicaragua was decided upon some time ago so Dean knew the rough geographical area we’d be in and I took charge of booking our accommodation: three nights at La Bastilla Ecolodge in a tent. Not just any tent though, it was massive, had mattresses, and was on a raised platform giving us a roof, a bathroom, a pair of rocking chairs and an amazing view!
At night, it was lovely to hear the rain and have the tent lit by lightning and fireflies. The Ecolodge (which is part of a working farm and technical college for local teens) was set in beautiful, lush green surroundings, a far cry from the parched brown terrain we’d experienced the last few days. There were even pink bananas!
On Dean’s birthday-eve we got up early to embark upon a bird watching tour with our guide, Rodrigo, and Escarlet who interpreted for us. With binoculars and well-trained eyes and ears, Rodrigo tracked down lots of different species of bird then located them in a book so we could see them properly and learn their English names.
I attempted photographs (on this walk and a few others we did by ourselves) but the birds were all very far away so the photographs are pretty lousy really, especially now that they’re pixilated from collaging and zooming! So, since we had access to bird watching books, I thought I’d combine the photographs with the drawings so you can see what they’re meant to look like. When next to each other, you can see that a few were slightly wrongly identified but they’re close enough to give you an idea.
We saw the brown jay but I didn’t get a picture. The bushy crested jay below wasn’t in the book.
These are some more we saw but I didn’t get pictures of:
And these are a few I don’t know the names for.
My absolute favourite new discovery, the very shy blue crowned motmot, which I spotted!
Our goal is to see a male resplendent quetzal before the trip is over; aren’t they amazing?! (It’s too long for a photo frame!)
Who’d have thought we’d become such twitchers!
We also saw a few other critters during the walks, including glimpse of a couple of aguotis which we’d never heard of before. They’re small mammals that I think look like hares without the big ears!
Below are just a few of the thousands of discarded cicada exoskeletons attaching themselves to coffee bushes and anything else around. The middle left is a live one, about 7cm long I think. On the evening we arrived they must have all reached the end of mating season so they we’re flailing around wildly in the final throes of death! OK but not when they’re in your bathroom!
A few weeks ago, in Honduras, I found a card of sorts and recognisable chocolates – both of which are rare in this part of the world – so that’s how Dean’s actual birthday began.
He then enjoyed a typical Nicaraguan breakfast of gallopinto (rice and beans), scrambled egg, strong white cheese and tortilla before spending the next couple of hours Skyping home.
The only other surprise of the day was a cake which the lovely cook at the Ecolodge made on request. It was really nice, despite looking quite unusual: chocolate sponge decorated with different flavours of meringue!
We continued the celebrations at our next destination, León, with a really nice meal at a restaurant called El Carnivoro.
Believe it or not, this picture is of my ‘small salad’ starter!
We decided it was definitely our fanciest meal since our first week, at the Banyan Tree in Bangkok. A tasty treat!
In other, non-birthday related news, we visited Somoto canyon, as I mentioned at the end of my last post. The adventure consisted of 2.5km walking through hot, dry, lifeless land…
…then climbing, jumping, falling, walking, slipping and swimming through the river for an hour or so…
…a short boat ride and then another 2km walk!
We’ve been internet-less or near enough for many days hence the delay in me posting this. Part 2 of Nicaragua will be coming soon!
For anyone interested who isn’t linked to me via the wonders of Facebook, we were excited to see our wedding featuring on Whimsical Wonderland Weddings this week. You can see it here. Happy memories!