After a day of work, I needed to get out of the house. I’m staying with El Arca de Noé (which translates to Noah’s Ark) in Granada, helping build the website for the small hotel. After a day inside this beautiful house, I was ready to get out again, and once again, I did not want to pay the $25-$35 dollars for a tour.
[And aside: Many people of Nicaragua earn their living off of the tourism industry. If you are a person who wants a tour, or can even simply afford a tour, I recommend you take a tour. You will be contributing to the local economy where some people earn $15/day for over 14 hours of work, seven days a week, as one of my 24 year old bus drivers told me. At the same time, by taking local buses, you’re still contributing to the economy but is a more localized way. The decision is up to you. ]
I have actually come to deeply appreciate the chicken buses in Nicaragua. So far, they have proven to be a wild yet quite reliable means of transportation. If you can catch a bus off rush hour, it’s totally fine. Rush hour is a little more metal, but still bearable as any train ride in New York at 6 pm.
Anyway, my decision to go to the Apoyo Lagoon was last minute. It was cloudy out, and I figured that I might as well just used the sad weather to work and wait until the sun came out to go have fun. That proved to be undoable, however, as my host was occupied until the afternoon. It was either go to the lagoon now or stay in the house all day. So I naturally chose to just grab my things and go. I had read up on how to get there on this super helpful page, and just remembered the directions in order to get there.
I walked down the street a few blocks to get to the but “depot,” and saw one leaving already. The corrador saw me and yelled, “Masaya!” which was the bus I needed to get on. The Masaya bus goes by the turn that takes you to Laguna Apoyo, so all you have to do is tell them that you want the entrance to Apoyo (“La entrada de Apoyo, por favor”) and again….they get it. The Masaya bus depot is different from the Managua bus depot in that it meets a couple of blocks to the north and west.
It’s the bus symbol just above the Supermarket, and Calle 14 de Septiembre, so named for the Nicaraguan Independence Day.
I ran across the street (looking both ways, of course), and hopped on the bus. After meandering around Granada for a bit, picking people up, we headed North toward Masaya. Once we got to the entrance, the corrador looked back and indicated that I should get off the bus. I was dropped on the main road, an obvious turn off across the street, leading uphill toward the rim of Laguna Apoyo.
Let me explain. Laguna Apoyo is actually a giant crater lake left from an old volcano. It’s the deepest lake in Nicaragua, and it drops well below the peaks of the surrounding two volcanoes: Mombacho and Masaya. That being said, if you want to get to it, you first have to go up to get to the rim, then suddenly down to get to the lake. It’s quite incredible actually.
I started hiking up the road, knowing I was going the right way because of the numbers of taxis that were going by me asking if I wanted a ride to the top. I cannot count the number of times I have said, “No, gracias,” anymore. There were several villages and schools along the road, and so I received a rather high level of harrassment and stares while I walked. Some people were of course perfectly nice. Some people said hello in English. Others were 14 year old school boys who have already learned misogynistic displays of power such as saying, “Hey Mami,” “Hola, Amor,” and “Guapa,” followed by a heavy up and down, dead eyed stares and kissy faces. This is fantastic. Casate conmigo, por favor! (Marry me, please!)
While I’d like to give these boys a swift punch to the face, I instead just look at them dead on and say nothing.
There were, however, a few pretty adorable little kids that wanted to talk to me a bit, and they made up for the rudeness of their older counterparts…a bit.
Also, the villages are really interesting and sometimes really beautiful. So many people just carve out a life from the hillsides here, living in corrugated tin huts while keeping their white and blue school uniforms immaculate and cooking for a family of 5. The smell of shit is usually present is many forms: horse shit, chicken shit, and probably human shit. It’s in the gutters, along with all the trash that people here throw “away.” At the same time, people take great pains to keep their yards immaculately clean of any debris, sweeping and raking all the roughage into little piles and burning them every day. The smell of strong soap mingles with the shit smell. Dichotomies.
In any case, after my journey through the villages, navigating as best I could with the few signs that were available (there was just one left turn) I found myself at the top of the hill, a turn to the left and a turn to the right. There is an obvious sign directing you 3 kilometers to a resort. If you look a little beyond and to the left, however, at the edge of the woods you will see a municipal sign indicating a trail down to public lake access.
This trail took me straight down the hill through the jungle and to the shores of the lake. You have to cross a road and then follow another brown sign to a municipal land area, but there is a small beach there that is open to the public. No one was there with me. I submerged myself in the slightly salty water a bit, watched a rain storm come across the lake, sat for a while enjoying the coolness of it all, then walked back up the hill.
At the rim, there are some fantastic views of the Mombacho volcano looming above the rim of the laguna. The landscape is strange and impressive here. Unexpected, and captivating. It’s very flat until you reach a volcano or the lagoon, and they seem to come out of nowhere.
I walked back down the hill, enduring the same general treatment as before, then caught a bus at the end of the road within five minutes of waiting. Each bus ride cost me 10 cordobas, totaling in 20 cordoba or 64 US cents. I left at 8:30 and was back by 1:00. The cost effectiveness of this trip was most impressive, and I really enjoyed the walk.
If you can handle a little harassment (which probably only happened to me because I was by myself), and want to take a great walk, I recommend you make your way to Laguna Apoyo on your own and skip the tour.