Rough Dirt Roads in Laguna de Apoyo

He wasn’t kidding when he said rough dirt roads. I told everyone in the car that it felt just like the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland. Here we were in the trusty stick shift Galloper SUV bumping up and down, side to side, through potholes and over large rocks. All around us were tall green trees and overgrown tropical plants. It was a side of Nicaragua we had not yet experienced, but very happy that we were.

They pulled over at a point where the trees were not blocking the view to show us what we were driving into. JB pulled me up onto a rock and we looked out onto a large crater with clear blue lake in the middle and green all around it. It was breathtaking.

We kept driving and at one point we were driving on the actual beach of the crater, right next to the water. There were locals on either side of us waving as they were either swimming in the lake or having a picnic on the sand. As you can imagine, cars don’t drive through the park on the beach very often, so we were quite the spectacle to them. Butterflies of all different colors were flying all around the car as we drove through the really overgrown part.

And then, we heard them. The howler monkeys. Ever since we moved to Nicaragua I’ve been overly eager to see a monkey in the wild because I had never seen one in the wild before. And here they were just above us. I ran out of the car and Gord showed me where they were in the tree. There was a whole family! Apparently, they really don’t like it when cars drive by them, so they yell whenever one comes near their tree.

I looked up with the biggest smile on my face. I couldn’t help but think of my brother, who loved monkeys when he was a kid, and wished he was there to experience this with me. The longer I looked at the tree, the more monkeys I saw. I saw a little baby just staring at me while hanging from his branch and stuffing his face with food. He was so tiny. His mom came by and swung the little guy onto her back so they could go to the next tree together. I stood there with my beer in the middle of the street looking up at them for about 15 mins completely captivated.

We hopped back into the car and drove on. We saw small Nica homes tucked into the forest with with kids, chickens and even pigs running around. One woman was holding a live chicken by its neck, who’s head she has just chopped off on a table in her front yard for all of us to see. That was a first. Just a few minutes after that, three dogs came out to greet us in front of a wooden gate. We were here.

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