Leon is known for its volcano boarding. We aren't really adrenaline junkies, but I was willing to give it a shot anyways. Jonathan was dead set against it, the old man that he is. But then I saw that our hostel, Tortuga Balooda (The Lazy Turtle) was offering a tour that sounded perfect for us. It was down to the ocean, which isn't far from Leon, and there was a boat ride through mangroves, a beach stop and then you would go to a local turtle sanctuary to help release baby turtles in the evening. Hook, line and sinker- they reeled me in- Hopefully very UNLIKE what would happen to the baby turtles I was about to meet. I would pick baby turtles over hurling myself down a steaming volcano any day.
The issue with the turtles here is that when mommy turtles come to the beach to lay their eggs, locals
So, we skipped the boarding and signed up for the baby turtles. And then the Baby Turtle Tour (its not actually called that) got cancelled. I was so disappointed. Our hostel manager was awesome and called a bunch of different tour operators in Leon to see if they had anything similar going that day, but no one did. Our shuttle to El Salvador wasn't leaving until 2am and I was determined to find something exciting to do with our last day in Nicaragua. J and I went out on a fun-finding hunt. We talked to a couple tour agencies, a couple hostels and then came upon the Surfing Turtle Hostel. The well spoken man at the desk told us about their sister hostel on a private island (very close to mainland) in the Pacific. They are one of the places that collects the turtle eggs, buries them and then releases them into the ocean after they hatch. They had released over 100 the day before! And, conveniently they had a 'direct' shuttle for $3 in a little over an hour to their resort and it would only cost $3 to hang out at the resort all day long. With any luck baby turtles were breaking out of their shells as we ran back to our hostel to grab our bathing suits and would be ready to be released (with my help) that very day!
I will swear until the end of my days that it was by some miracle that we landed on the other side of the river, dry and with the boat still facing upwards. We exited the boat much, much quicker than we had boarded.
It was on to the third unexpected chapter of our direct shuttle- a jungle trek. Because, why not? It was a beautiful, wide path pot-marked with huge puddles from the rainy season and muddy footprints. But it was flat, and easy and I had a feeling that the direct shuttle had almost made it to the beach.
The thatched roof of a beach cabanas came into view. The property was gorgeous and definitely worth the adventurous journey to spend the day there. We found a hammock in the shade spent the day swinging, reading, swimming and sipping on cold drinks. J played the guitar from his hammock perch and instantly gathered a small following of females. We ate dinner in the main atmospheric cabana as a downpour started. There was lightning and thunder, and quite storm whipped itself up. We had booked a shuttle back to Leon ($14) at 8pm, and were both wondering how that was going to work out, and hoping that the rain would stop. Thankfully the rain did stop for us, but sheet lightning continued to flash brightly in the black sky.
Instead of walking back through the jungle a horse and wooden cart awaited us. I could tell that this was going to be fun. Except that J is allergic to horses. He insisted he was fine so we hopped into the cart and bumped down the path, through the massive puddles in absolute blackness to the clip-cloppity sounds of the horse. The lightning lit up the jungle sporadically giving the entire scene an otherworldly feel. I felt like I was in Game of Thrones, taking the Kings Road up to visit Jon Snow at the Wall. It was surreal.
And then we got to the waters edge. A waterlogged, ancient dug out canoe sat on the shore sinking into the sand. I wondered if this would be a better or worse option than the boat that brought us here. The tide was back in and there was a lot more water than when we arrived. We waited 10 minutes before we saw the flashlight beam sweep across us from somewhere in the black water. I could tell before I could even see the boat, that it was the same, scary super tippy boat that had brought us here. Oh boy. We said hello to our Captain again and carefully climbed back into the dreaded boat. With only 4 people and no bags, the boat was still unreasonably tippy. But, this time we at least had a good 6 inches of boat out of the water. Although we still had the same 6 inches of water inside the boat. We set off. It was so black that we couldn't tell the sky from the water and the water from the land. It wasn't until we had passed them that our Captain's flashlight haphazardly passed over sharp looking wooden spikes protruding out of the water. How many more invisible dangers lurked out in the blackness? It was a scary thought. Thankfully I could see the faint lights of the shore growing closer
We approached the shore again. There was a man knee deep in the water. The boat neared him and he tossed something into the boat. There was the sound that I could only deduce was a crab's shell scraping along the inside of the boat and dropping into the water in the bottom. I swear there was a scuttling noise. The boat turned back around for the far sure. We were in complete blackness and now there was apparently an angry crab scurrying around somewhere near my toes. Not that I could confirm that of course- but I also couldn't confirm that I still had all my toes, since I couldn't see them. On our second attempt, we made it all the way back across the water to the shore where our taxi was waiting. I counted upon arrival- all 10 toes intact.
Our taxi driver was friendly and eager to practice his Spanglish with us. As an added bonus, we