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Chocolate Charlie & The Gang

For anyone that thinks that Elisha and I are care free and always ready for adventure I have a story to share with you. It goes like this…

On February 9, 2012 I received an email from a blog follower.  It read as follows:

“My name is Cameron, fellow Canadian. 5 years ago some friends and myself bought a beachfront lot with a beat up house on it (sight unseen).  Up until now nobody has been able to go down there and check it out.  My wife and two young daughters 4 and 6,  plan to drive to Poneloya in mid-March and stay as long as we can.  3 months or so.”

Cameron went on to ask us if we could take a look at the house for him as he only had pictures from when the house was purchased.  His pictures showed a house that was rough around the edges.  What we saw was a few walls, no roof and a lot of garbage. I guess what Cameron didn’t know was how hard the ocean and heat is on homes that close to the sea. We replied to his email explaining that the house was in pretty bad shape, but we didn’t include any pictures.

Fast forward to yesterday…

Elisha and I were visiting our friend Carlos in Poneloya when we decided to go for a stroll down the road. 5 minutes into our walk and we see a guy up the road a bit waving at us and calling my name.  Oddly enough, this isn’t the first time someone we have never met recognized us from pictures on our blog and flagged us down on the beach in Poneloya.

This time it turned out to be none other than our fellow Canuck, Cameron Yee.  We learned that him and his wife Ashlie have been on the road for three weeks, traveling with their two children Lila and ChynaMae in a big diesel van that they have nick-named Chocolate Charlie. They started their journey from their home in Oregon and have traveled through the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to arrive here in Nicaragua with their two daughters.

When Cameron and Ashlie saw the house they were shocked and a little dismayed at the state that it was in.  Their daughter Lila, ever the optimist declared,

“It’s beautiful Mommy!” and then ran toward the beach with her sister in tow.  

It became abundantly clear that Cameron and Ashlie would need to switch to Plan B and find somewhere else to stay.  Normally this would be easy, but since we are in the middle of Semana Santa celebrations every hotel, hostel and rental home is full.  The short term solution is to park inside the gates at Carlos’ place Hostal El Pulpo, run an extension cord to an air conditioner in the van and camp out.

Over the last couple of days we’ve had an opportunity to spend some time with the Yee’s.  As you would expect they are easy going and a lot of fun.  Their girls are super cute and excited to try new things.  

Less than an hour after landing on the beach ChynaMae spotted a huge Brahma cow, not too far from where she was building her sandcastle.  She took off running after it with her Mom, running behind her.  She eventually got close enough that the cow noticed her – stopped and swung it’s head around – and stared her straight in the eye. That was enough to stop her in her tracks. Mae’s selective hearing finally tuned in to her Mom’s calls and she turned back and ran for the water.  This should give you a bit of a glimpse into the girls’ personalities and why they are so much fun to hang out with.

The Yee’s will be connected to the world again soon via a Claro 3G rocket stick.  If you’d like to read more about the adventures of this super cool and fun family check out their Nica Bound.

Personally, we can’t wait to see where their adventure takes them next!

A Real Adventure: Somoto Canyon, Nicaragua

Yesterday we awoke to the many sounds of city life in Esteli, Nicaragua.  Music blaring, children screaming, roosters crowing and cars honking are your alarm clock in Esteli, but all that didn’t matter.  We were excited to be up early because we were going to Somoto Canyon.  

As I later found out, Elisha and I had completely different expectations of our day. She thought we were going on a walk along a river that had a nice place for a swim and some good places for pictures. I thought we were getting strapped into life jackets and sent down a raging river canyon.  Maybe we should talk more because if either of those things had come true one of us would have been very unhappy. 

The guide books tell you that Somoto Canyon was relatively unexplored until a group of Czech scientists stumbled across it in 2004. They claim that it was formed 5 – 13 million years ago. With a built in margin for error like that and no way to prove them wrong, who can argue? Ever since the Czechs found this little gem it has been visited by increasingly larger groups of tourists each year.

The tour itself varies greatly depending on the time of year you visit. Due to the fast and high waters that come during rainy season the canyon is completely closed to the public for these few months of the year. In December my version of the tour may have been the reality and in May at the end of the dry season Elisha’s version may have been closer to reality.  This time of year it is in between.  

We did actually walk alongside part of the river, but we also walked in the water and swam down more sections than naught.  

There were  even a couple areas where the river narrowed enough that we actually had to climb up on the rocks and jump off into the next pool of water.

One particular section gave you the option of climbing between 4 and 40 feet to jump into the next pool.  I jumped from all of the available options, except the 4 footer, that was reserved for Elisha. My ass is still pretty sore from my first jump from 40 feet.  I landed a little too far back and the water felt like concrete.  Unfortunately when Elisha attempted to put the camera on burst shooting she put it on timer instead and completely missed my 1st jump.

Her tune turned from,

“Don’t jump from there!” to “Go do it again, so I can take a video!”

The water was much warmer than any Canadian could envision a river to be, but after a few hours Elisha was getting cold.  There were  three different tour options available.  We took the mid-length option (a 3.5 hour route) which was just enough to make you feel like you earned, it without totally wiping you out.

Our guide, Fausto had a waterproof case for our camera, snacks and Tona.  All of which we needed during our frequent rest stops and photo ops. 

The views were amazing and at one point Elisha could take pictures of Honduras.  For me the water sport was enough to keep me happy. Somoto Canyon was a great tour that fulfilled both of our expectations, without actually being what we expected.

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