A November 2004 trip
to Granada by dannynosleeves
Quote: Places to stay and things to do in Nicaragua
There is free Internet and a nice indoor/open-air pool. There are two TVs with DVD players and hundreds of movies to watch. You can watch a movie on a large TV by the pool and dining area or you and one other friend can watch a movie on a 13-inch TV with headphones. This is a nice thing to do during quite time. In fact, it’s the only thing to do really. There are also free 15-minute calls to the U.S. and Canada. There is also a wonderful breakfast available for only $2 to $3 and free coffee available all day with milk and sugar.
I haven’t quite figured out what’s going on with the kitchen situation, though. It doesn’t mention anything in the flyers about using the kitchen. It would seem to me, though, since they only offer breakfast, that you would be able to use the kitchen. However, sometimes I use it with no problems, but other times I get kicked out, and sometimes the lady forced me to let her cook my food for me, so I hope you can figure that out. They also let you get free ice, but the kitchen lady sometimes doesn’t let you get water from the tap, even to cook with. It’s all kinds of crazy.
The showers were warm, which was a nice luxury I’ve rarely had in Central America. There was a different kind of atmosphere here, though. It wasn’t like most hostels. I didn’t really meet anyone while I was there. Usually I will have met half a dozen people in a matter of minutes at other hostels. I’m not sure if it’s because of the environment or if because maybe only people stay here to pass through, so they don’t worry about making friends. I don’t really know, though, since I didn’t really get to talk to anyone.
The only real downfall to this hostel is that, once quiet time starts at 11pm, everything is shut down. There is no TV, Internet, or phone calls. One of my friends also hung out in one of the hammocks until late into the night and found the security guard asleep in the hammock beside him!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 4, 2004
Hotel | "Casa Oro Hostel"
The Casa Oro advertised a lot of things they don’t have, and the things they do have aren’t quite what they say they are.
They offer free use of the kitchen, but it only has one three-burner stove, which only has one working burner so line for the stove can be long at night. They offer free use of the barbeque, which I didn’t see at all. They advertise a free Jacuzzi, which wasn’t working and was filled with mud. Maybe it’s some type of new herbal Jacuzzi?!
They also advertise free lockers. They are indeed free, but are useless unless you have your own locks, so keep that in mind. There are also lockers under the beds, but you must have a lock as well. I kept my stuff under the bed and never really worried about it.
They also say that they accept credit cards, but half the time, they don’t, so make sure you get money before you get here because there is no close bank. They also charge you for everything. Water is 8c for a liter, toilet paper is 3c, and it’s 7c for a soda. Yes, water is more expensive than soda. It’s like that everywhere.
The only have two dorm rooms($5) with 12 beds and two private rooms, so it fills up fast.
The one plus to the place is that it’s close to the beach and town. The clerks at the shop on the corner are very friendly. My friend went in and wanted to use a credit card, but the owner said the machine doesn’t work after 5pm, and then he gave my friend $20 store credit-all he did was write his name down. Nicaragua by far has the nicest people in all of Central America.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 10, 2004
San Juan Del Sul
There’s a catch, though, to the cheaper prices. They charge you for every little thing there. It costs money to fill up your water bottle, there’s no use of the kitchen, and you have to pay to bring in your own liquor to drink Yes, you have to pay to drink your own liquor, you have to pay to watch movies, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you had to pay to eat your own food as well. They advertise $2.50 beds and hammocks, but this is only if there are no bunks or rooms available. The $2.50 beds are mattresses on the floor. The dorms there are the same as those at the Oasis. You get charged $2 an hour to use the Internet, as well. So if you stay there for one night, it’s $4, plus $2 to use the Internet, so you just spent $6; whereas, if you stay at the Oasis, you get a room and all the Internet you want for $6, plus you don’t get charged for every little thing. Basically, it’s because the hostel is American-owned, whereas the Oasis is locally owned. The Bearded Monkey shows two movies every night for $1 to guests or anyone off the street. We went there last night to watch City of God. Amazing movie. We managed to get away without paying on accident. I don’t feel bad, though, because that guy charges for everything, and it’s crazy. He’s breaking the law anyway, by charging to show the movies.
All in all, I would recommend the Oasis Granada over the Bearded Monkey any day. The people who stay don’t seem to mind it much, so I guess if you don’t mind charges here and there and having to pay to drink your own booze instead of paying American prices at their bar, then go right ahead.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on November 16, 2004
The Bearded Monkey
Avenida 14 de Septiembre
Today, we went to the waterfall in San Ramon. It’s also called "Waterfall Cascada." We got information on the waterfall from the employees at the Hacienda Merdia. They were more than willing to answer any questions we had about the trip: how to get there, what to bring, how long it took, the best way to get there, etc. The park for the waterfall has a $2 (or 30 cordovas) entrance fee. They don’t have much change, so don’t bring large bills. The trail is three kilometers long and difficult even for the experienced hiker. It takes one to two hours to walk to the waterfall, depending on how fast you walk. The first kilometer is fairly flat and on a road. The second kilometer, the path gets smaller and steeper. By the third kilometer, the path is wide enough for one person, very steep, and very rocky. There is also nowhere to buy drinks, so either come prepared, or you can drink water from the river. If you decide to drink water from the river, just make sure to get it from a flowing spot and not somewhere where the water is not moving fast. It is safe to drink the water from the river. This is the same water that comes out of your showers and sinks in all of Ometepe.
There are several ways to get to the waterfall. You can rent bikes for $8, kayaks for $5, horses for $2 per horse, or you can walk.
It’s a good idea to eat breakfast before you leave, because the hike takes a lot of energy out of you. I suggest the $3 buffet breakfast. I would also suggest buying a lunch from the Hacienda Merdia before you go, to take to the top of the waterfall. There is much to do at the waterfall, so it’s nice to have a little picnic up there. The pool from the waterfall is very small and only about two feet deep, so you can’t swim. All you can really do at the top is walk and stand under the water and take pictures. Make sure you keep your cameras in plastic or waterproof bags, because the mist will have them soaked in a matter of minutes. All and all, it’s a great way to spend half the day!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 7, 2004
San Ramon Waterfall
San Ramon, Merdia, Omentepe
Kayaks cost $8 for the duration of your stay. If boating to the waterfall, it is about a 2-hour trip one way to the entrance of the park. To get there, simply rent a kayak from Hacienda Merida, paddle out past the dock, and go left. It’s best to follow the shore line all the way to the entrance. The further out you paddle, the more difficult it becomes due to the wind and water currents. You will know when you are at the entrance of the park when you see two docks side by side. One is a large fishing dock while the other is a smaller dock with a diving board on it. Once you get to the docks, you can just pull your boat up out of the water and leave it on the shore. It’s safe to just leave it lying there. Then you just cross the street, pay the entrance fee, and start up the mountain.
It’s a good idea to eat breakfast before you leave because the hike takes a lot of energy out of you. I suggest the $3 buffet breakfast. I would also suggest buying a lunch from the Hacienda Merdia before you go to take to the top of the waterfall. There is much to do at the waterfall, so it’s nice to have a little picnic up there. The pool from the waterfall is very small and only about 2 feet deep, so you can’t swim. All you can really do at the top is walk, stand under the water, and take pictures. Make sure you keep your cameras in a plastic or waterproof bag because the mist will have them soaked in a matter of minutes. All in all, it’s a great way to spend half the day!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 7, 2004
Kayaking to San Ramon Waterfall
Today, we went to the waterfall in San Ramon. It’s also called "Waterfall Cascada". (See "San Ramon Waterfall" entry.)
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 11, 2004
Bike or Walk to San Ramon Waterfall
We eventually got to the island and took a few cabs and one very bumpy bus ride to the hostel. The town of Merida is little more than the hostel itself, plus a few houses and some stores operating out of some of the houses. As small as it was, there was much to see and do, but by the time we got there, it was very late, so we hopped into our buck-fifty hammocks and passed out. Never one to sleep-walk or talk in my sleep, that night I did a little bit of both. Deep in the night, I heard some rustling in my bag I’d dropped beside my hammock. I awoke—well, I didn’t actually wake up, but I thought I did. I saw what I thought was a child digging through my bag, and when I sat up, the child appeared to be running away with my things. I yelled, "Hey, you!" twice—loud enough to wake the whole of Merida, but as it turned out, the "kid" was actually a dog, and "my things" were only one sandal. Relieved to find no one else was awake and witnessing my embarrassment, I plopped back down and feel gratefully to sleep.
The next morning, we hiked to the waterfalls, rode our bikes around the island, and took our first dive in Lake Nicaragua. The hostel turned out to be an old coffee plantation with a loading dock that extended far out into the lake. Religiously, every night at sunset, I would go and jump off the dock a few times, showing off my flips and tricks. Often I had an audience, and once the paparazzi appeared and took a few pictures. Great stuff for my ego, and a great way to top off days filled with adventure, exploring, and camaraderie with familiar faces and the smiling ones of strangers, who were fast becoming new friends in a strange and far away place.