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45. Somoto

Nicaragua

On to our fifth Central American country, Nicaragua. Other than the usual dodgy exchange of money and the unusual act of having our body temperature checked, we were allowed to cross the border without difficulty. Then it was straight onto a chicken bus, which we thought we had left behind in El Salvador but apparently not. The scenery wasn't exciting, with only small hills, dry land and plenty of cows to view out the window. The small town of Somoto was just as riveting, however heavy bursts of rain prevented us from seeing much of it.

Revolutionary mural in Somoto - one of many.

The reason we stopped in Somoto was to join a tour of the Somoto Canyon, which seemed like our billionth guided walk through rocky landscapes with gently flowing water, but I loved them. Danny just came along for the ride. After receiving a life jacket and a pair of shoes (to prevent ours from getting wet - a nice touch), we started trekking along jade-encrusted soil and cow-filled paths to the starting point of the canyon. 

Hiking to the start of the canyon. The cows didn't seem to mind us.

Somoto Canyon was stunningly beautiful, surrounded by vertical rock walls that were reflected in the water below. Being the dry season the river was low, which meant we could walk on dry ground for a good part of the tour. There was plenty of swimming to be had though - as if we would go trekking and not get saturated at some point.

 

Of course it wouldn't be canyoning without jumping off a few cliffs, starting at roughly one metre high and increasing from there. Danny managed the first couple but chickened out once the jumps reached five metres. I didn't hesitate at this height. I did hesitate when the next jump was 10 metres, but only for a second. It was exhilarating, free-falling through the air into the small pool of water directly underneath, not sure how deep the water would be (in this case, not quite deep enough - I hit the bottom). During the wet season there is the option of doing 15 and 20 metre jumps, and I found myself secretly wishing a tsunami would come through and flood the river so I could attempt these challenges. It didn't happen. Never mind, I got my adrenaline rush, I was happy. 

The storms of yesterday apparently had not left us, and the sound of thunder reverberating off the canyon walls kept our eyes looking skyward. Luckily for us it didn't start to rain until we were walking back to the tour office, where we could escape the heavier downpour while enjoying our complimentary lunch (consisting mostly of gallo pinto, or rice and beans, a staple of every meal). All in all, a fantastic tour. Now I need to find a way to come back during the wet season.