Honduras to Nicaragua on the Tica Bus, and Up a Volcano

So, we left Copan Ruinas by the Hedman Alas luxury bus service to San Pedro Sula (SPS), where we will stay overnight and then catch the 5am Tica Bus service to Leon, Nicaragua, a 12-hour journey.  The trip to SPS was fine, though late, and we were met off the bus by our hostel owner, Rocky, who transported us to our accommodation, inside a gated compound protected by armed guards.  He also took us off for something to eat in the evening, and then transported us at 4am to catch our bus.  All in all, pretty safe, which is what we were after, given SPS’ reputation as the most dangerous city in the world (though who said so, I know not), although it’s apparently only really dangerous if you are a gang member.  Here’s the bus, anyway, our home for 12 hours.
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The journey was fine, though late, as it took us a while to cross the border, as per usual.  Eventually, we were dropped off at a petrol station outside Leon, Nicaragua, and took a taxi into town.  We’re staying at the Casona Colonial, which is lovely.  Here’s Diane sitting in the open-air lounge.
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It’s a nice town on the standard Spanish colonial model, so there’s a Parque Central with a church on one side and the government offices on the other.  Here’s the cathedral, which looks kind of tatty on the outside, and is superb on the inside.  It’s the largest in Central America: there’s a legend that it was destined for Lima, Peru, but that the architect became upset with the Lima authorities and switched the plans for a smaller one.
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We also visit the Pacific Ocean, nearby, with some friends whom we met in Yucatan (how long ago that seems).  They’ve been home and then back again on another holiday, and we just happen to be in the same town on the same day.  The beach is great, though hot, and there are lots of vultures around eating dead fish.
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The highlight of our visit here, though, is walking up Telica, an active-ish volcano near Leon.  We are picked up at our hotel at 5:30am, and start walking at about 7am.  Here’s the lump in question in the early-morning light.  We’re not walking all the way up, only to the little indentation on the left slope.  The top bit is too crumbly and dangerous.
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It’s a couple of hours to the top, and the views become better and better.  Here we’re looking towards a more active volcano, San Cristobal, which puffs out fumes regularly.
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Eventually we crest the ridge, and catch a whiff of the sulphur fumes coming out of the crater.
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Here we are together, for a change, taken by the guide.
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Then we have a long walk down, through a forest and round another extinct volcano to some hot springs.
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And here’s Diane with her trusty stick.
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The hot springs are gloopy and foul-smelling, as one might expect.  They use them here to generate electricity.
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And here’s a final view, looking back over our route.  Telica is the little sticky-up bit in the gap between the volcano on the left and the hills on the right.  The gps said we walked about eight miles in straight-line distance, not counting the ups and downs, and we finished at about 2pm, so we were all pretty hot by the end.
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Off to Granada tomorrow, about 168 miles, by public bus through Managua, the nation’s capital !

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