Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Nicaragua

It was a holiday of calamities. Firstly Iceland's volcanic ash cloud meant I was stuck in London for 5 days, leaving my backpacking mates twiddling their thumbs, waiting for me. When I finally arrived, we made for Little Corn Island in the Caribbean, a three day journey by bus and boat - you can fly, but this option was far cheaper. Upon arrival to our little paradise island (below), I was bitten by a dog leaving me with a horridly deep leg wound, a trip to the hospital and instruction not to go in the sea for two whole days. I haven't foamed at the mouth yet so I assume I'm safe.

But anyway; what of the food? As you can see, most of my meals had one thing in common. Rice and beans. Gallo pinto. It will be a long time before I would like to eat that combination again.

Huevos Rancheros


Non-descript meat with the saltiest, rubberiest cheese you'll ever taste

Some sort of chicken stew

Thankfully there was some variation on Little Corn Island. Rondon, their local dish, was a coconut-based stew packed with fish, prawns, yucca, potato and carrots. We had to order it two hours in advance to give them time to prepare it. It was lovely; light but creamy and packed with flavour.

Squares of banana cake were sold by kids bearing big tupperware boxes. Squidgy and light, they were extremely moreish. One day, after a wander around the island, we bought a patty each from a man with another tupperware box. Still warm, they were light, crispy and filled with minced meat with a whack of spice and fruitiness that I knew could only come from scotch bonnets. We spent a good portion of the next day trying to find him again, but alas; it was a one-time opportunity.

After a few days sitting around in hammocks and getting pissed on rum we made the mission over to Ometepe, an island in the middle of the enormous Lake Nicaragua. Sleeping on dirty cardboard on an overnight freight boat with six smelly men wasn't the most comfortable way to travel, it was cheap and that was top priority.

The island is dominated by two volcanoes, Madeiras which is dormant, and ConcepciĆ³n (below).

We climbed that bastard. All 1619m of it. It took us 12 hours in total; it was the hardest thing I've done in a long time, and my legs still haven't recovered. It wasn't until the next evening we found out that our 'guide' was actually a drunk and a drug addict, and was arrested for taking us to the crater as it's too dangerous, given it's an active volcano and had erupted 2 weeks previously. Oops.

Other peoples' holiday photos are boring, but the Flickr set of The Death-Hike is HERE in case you're interested.

15 comments:

Chris said...

Yep, the food looks mainly shit but then I suppose you were expecting that. It was very similar in Cuba - rice and beans all over the place, occasionally accompanied by mystery meat. Not great.

Joshua said...

Sounds like a nice trip although not the greatest culinary adventure.

A measly 1619m, you need to man up.

Su-Lin said...

Two brushes with death? Glad you're back safely!

Lizzie said...

Chris - Yep, I had no great expectations of the food.

Josh - MAN UP!? It was hideous. I did it in 4 year old Converse trainers...

Su-Lin - I am a disaster! Thanks.

Emyr Thomas, Bon Vivant said...

I'm not surprised you won't touch rice and beans again for a while! The pig feast on your return must have been awesome!

Food Urchin said...

Ha, fantastic story about the guide! Oh dear!

Welcome back.

shayma said...

so sorry about the dog, Lizzie. hope youre well. well done on climbing that bastard of a mountain! x shayma

Anonymous said...

I've been to little corn! My culinary highlights were two tip-offs from the scuba instructors: A lady who sold amazing coconut bread from her house every day at 3pm, and a particularly large mango tree on a hill from which we collected fresh-fallen mango every morning for breakfast (eaten with a squeeze of sour starfruit that we picked in the forest). Tropical foraging rocks!

An American in London said...

That dog bite sounds serious - you really took it in stride. And I hear you on taking trips to countries where the food lacks variety or is otherwise uninteresting. Then again, it's tough to visit only countries with a rich culinary tradition of eating out.

Loved that you tried to find some random guy selling food out of Tupperware. I've done things like that, too. : ) Welcome back!

leila said...

but how amazing was the flor de cana rum!!god I miss that stuff sooo much

Helen said...

Well, I guess at least you had some extra energy from all those carbs for climbing that absolute beast of a volcano. Naughty, naughty guide criminal drug man for taking you up there though. That banana cake thingy looks rather yummy though - I bet you wish you'd bought the box. I always wonder how people in really hot places eat such high carb, starchy diets - doesn't seem to match with the weather does it.

Jonathan said...

Wow. What an eventful trip. Glad to hear you've made it home safely and the dog bite isn't as bad as it could have been.

So I take it you won't be making a bee line for the nearest Nicaraguan restaurant in South East London!

Lizzie said...

Emyr - The pigfest was the perfect tonic.

Food Urchin - thanks! Oh dear indeed.

Shayma - thanks. That dog has a bounty on it's head...

AAIL - It was a rather hair-raising moment! Luckily the country itself was brilliant, so that detracted from the rice n' beans frenzy. Thanks!

Leila - I won't be touching the flor de cana for a while. The resultant hangover was... epic!

Helen - Naughty (non)guide man indeed. It definitely doesn't match the weather, but I suppose because it's a pretty poor country the carbs fill you up whilst still being cheap. The banana cake was brilliant; I have no idea what could possibly have been in it. So squidgy.

Jonathan - Thanks - It was very eventful! I definitely shan't be seeking that out; I have not missed the rice n' beans as yet.

Nicisme said...

What a great trip - love the photos of your volcanic climb.

Krista said...

cracks me up! how did you manage to get bitten by a dog???