Benoît Proulx

Joined November 2016
  • Day15

    Snowmageddon

    February 14 in Nicaragua ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    We head back home today. We've been following the storm that just hit home. We will have a fun time digging our car out at the hotel tonight.

    We get to the airport a couple hours in advance. Everything goes pretty well. Both our flights are on time and have no complications.

    We get in Montreal at 11:30 pm, then go to the hotel where our car was parked. We dig out the car, thankfully it is less covered than what I was imagining. We get home at 3:00am. Our friends car that they left in our garage won't start 😭. We decide to all go to bed and deal with it after some rest. We boost it the next morning with a portable battery booster.

    Our snowbank has never been higher since we've been at this house. Thankfully we have snow removal service.

    Back to work on Monday.
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  • Day14

    Granada

    February 13 in Nicaragua ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Today we head back to mainland. We are traveling to Granada to meet back with Basia in Marc for our last day in Nicaragua. We get up with the sunrise and pick our bags. Lucie has a continental breakfast set for us. We say our goodbyes and take a transport with our driver Eddie to Moyogalpa. It is a different port than the one we came in. It is a shorter trip and smoother as the wind is very calm today. The price for the ferry is extremely cheap, it costs only $1.50.

    In San Jorge, Pedro is expecting us for the drive to Granada. He brings us to his 1990 or older Toyota Tercel. It looks like it had quite the lifetime. We put our bags in the trunk and the driver needs to give it 5 tries before it stays closed. As we drive, from time to time the driver has to stop and close the trunk as it keeps poping back up.

    Halfway to our destination my neighbour texts me to tell me that firemen have stopped at our house for carbon monoxide. I start to question why. I verify our alarm system and notice that an alert was created by the carbon monoxide detector. Our furnace was blocked as the exhaust pipes were covered in snow. We had just cleared that area before leaving on vacation... Thank you to the firemen and our great neighbours who took care of this situation.

    Once arrived in Granada we check-in at our Hotel. It's a very nice villa with a lovely interior garden. Our host Ester gives us the tour and asks if her place will be okay. In my mind I'm thinking this place is so great, I could stay here for a very long time. We will have a great time here.

    After getting a map from Ester with some interesting places to visit or eat, we pick a spot for lunch and head over. It's a nice place that a Canadian couple owns. After a couple beers and food in our belly we start to walk back. Ben wants some ice cream so we use Google maps to find a place. Grenada lives on tourism and with the current lull there are many places that have closed. It took us three attempts to finally find one that was still in business. Ben is pretty happy.

    It is really hot on the streets so we decide to head back to the Hotel and chill in the pool and the hammacks with beer and rum. In late afternoon we meet up with Basia and Marc who are at the hotel just beside ours. We have a couple drinks with them and catch up on what we've done in the last 4 days.

    We then pick a place for supper and enjoy a king size burger that I could have easily only eaten half. Once done we have a night cap and swim before heading to bed.
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  • Day13

    Holà volcan Maderas

    February 12 in Nicaragua ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Je me suis suis joint à une randonnée au sommet du volcan Madera aujourd’hui. Selon le site web c’est une randonnée de 8 heures pour laquelle il faut un guide local. Un autre gars qui était avec nous (Steven) au Coco Loco est arrivé avant nous à Ometepe et a organisé le tout avec un allemand qu’il a rencontré en route. Robert et les filles n’avaient pas le goût et se sont organisés une journée de visite de l’île à la place.

    Le point de départ est à moins de 2 km de Finca Del Sol alors je m’y rend à pieds avec ma lampe frontale pour rejoindre Steven, Michael et Jonny (le guide) : il est 5h 😴.

    Le dénivelé de la première partie est assez graduel et ça va bien. On voit quelques singes crieurs d’assez près, de petits singes à la face blanche (capucins?) au loin et perroquets verts. Ça commence ensuite à monter un peu plus et on s’arrête à un point de vue avant d’arriver dans les nuages.

    C’est là que le « fun » commence… il y a un micro-climat e forêt tropicale humide à partir de la moitié du volcan et c’est effectivement très humide. On est dans la brume à partir d’ici. La montée devient de plus en plus abrupte et la piste de plus en plus boueuse et avec des branches et troncs en travers sous l’au-delà il faut parfois passer. Avec toute la boue et la piste glissante on focusait notre attention où on mettait nos pieds. Je penses à Robert et aux filles qui ont choisi une journée relaxe de visites et commence à être un peu jaloux.

    À environ 5-10 min du sommet du cratère… BANG!🤕 Je me cogne la tête sur un tronc que je ne avais pas vu en travers la piste. Ça sonné assez fort et par réflexe j’enlève ma casquette et me tâte la tête pour me rendre compte que mes doigts sont rouges sang. Maudit je me suis fendu. Mes compagnons viennent voir et confirment : « t’as du sand qui coule sur ton front ». Je m’éponge avec des serviettes que j’avais avec moi. Finalement ils confirment que ça semble plus superficiel comme blessure. Après quelques minutes à mettre de la pression pour arrêter le saignement on reprend la route. Pas grand chose de plus à faire ici de toute façons et à part de l’élancement je suis ok. Je me suis fait un petit bandeau avec un bandana pour tenter de garder de la pression pour libérer mes 2 mains.

    Au sommet on redescend quelques mètres au milieu du cratère dans lequel un lac s’est formé. On s’y arrête prendre des photos et grignoter avant de repartir pour la descente du volcan via une autre piste.

    Encore plus de boue nous ralenti lors de la descente. On glisse quelques fois mais sans se blesser, heureusement. Rendu là on avait tous assez hâte de passer ce stade et d’arriver où c’est sec.

    On termine notre randonnée dans une plantation de café vers 14h30, après environ 9 heures de marche (incluant les pauses). Mais on ne s’y arrête pas : nos chaussures sont pleines de boue et on veut juste prendre une douche.

    Au finale, ce fut une expérience intéressante… mais je ne recommanderait pas. Le lac dans le cratère était cool à voir, mais je ne trouve pas ça valait le détour. J’ai quand même bien apprécié la compagnie et les conversations avec mes 2 compagnons de voyage, Steven et Michael.
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  • Day13

    Activities on Ometepe

    February 12 in Nicaragua ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Ben gets up at 4:40am to start his trek at 5:30am. I did not hear him leave. I wake up around 5:45 with the rooster singing. I read while the girls are still sound a sleep.

    We head for breakfast at 7:30 and have a quick chat with Lucie to arrange for a transport to Granada tomorrow, she has a contact and will set us up.

    Eddie arrives at 8:30 to take us on our Island tour. We start by visiting Charco Verde which is a ecological park. It has a butterfly garden that we visit. We also walk around a lagoon taking in the sights and observing howler monkeys chilling in the trees.

    Eddie then takes us to Punta Jesus Maria. It's a nice beach where we take the opportunity to go have a swim while having a beer. It feels a bit odd as we are the only tourists here. It really shows that there is political turmoil and that tourists fear visiting the country. It is now illegal to protest, people protesting go to jail if they get caught. They are even arresting people from video fottage of past protests. Up to now we have not seen anything to be worried about other than many empty locations where usually tourists are in great numbers.

    We then head to Santo Domingo for lunch with a great view on the lake. From there we go to Ojo de Agua, this place is a natural eco pool taking it's water from a natural spring. The water colour is really lovely. We hang out here until we hear from Ben. We planned that he would meet us here after his trek. By the time we hear from him we decide to go back and pick him up for our final stop. We head to Mérida to watch the sunset. Picking up Ben is a 2 minute detour.

    In Mérida we have a couple beers while enjoying the sunset. We are not the only ones that came for this view. Other locals have also come to take in the beauty. We take a meal to go and head back to our AirBnB. Eddie has been patient enough for us for the day and we do not want to have to hold him up any longer.

    Dinner, shower and bed when we arrive.
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  • Day12

    Ometepe

    February 11 in Nicaragua ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Another day, another adventure. Today we are to take the ferry to an island called Ometepe comprised of two volcanoes where one is still active.

    We get up have breakfast and pack our stuff. We head to the ferry early just in case. We are taking one of the larger boats to avoid being shaken by the waves. We were warned by friends that the ride they took yesterday was rough and one of them got sea sick.

    The ride is okay and not too bad. The wind is a bit calmer than yesterday. It takes us about 90 minutes to cross. As we arrive we have a driver with a sign waiting to take us to our AirBnB. Eddie explains some of the things to do on the island as we drive. He offers to give us a full day tour if we are interested. We tell him we will verify our options and let him know. Near our destination we get stopped by the National Police. It's the second time in 2 days. We try to understand why we were stopped but thankfully only the driver has to deal with them and we don't have do anything but stay quiet. It seemed like they were inspecting all the papers and the car to ensue that everything is in order. I guess it's a good thing for us.

    Lucie greats us at our arrival. She shows us our cabin and explains how things work. The place is nice, clean and the bed looks comfy. After check-in we decide to go for lunch. We walk to a place nearby and order. They have 1 litre beer bottles for 1.75 🍻, nice. In general beer is cheaper in bars and restaurants than at the market in Nicaragua.

    After lunch we stop by a small market to get some snacks as Ben will be hiking up one of the volcanoes tomorrow. I decided to sit this one out as it's about a 8-9 hour trek. The rest of us will probably take Eddie on his offer for the tour. Once we arrive back we decide to take a nap.

    After our nap, we go watch the sunset. It is a nice view to remember. We then take our headlamps and walk to another restaurant for supper. As we walk we notice that everything is dark. There are no lights anywhere. When we find the restaurant, we see candles providing light and a big flashlight for the cook. For some reason I do not question any of this as I thought it was normal for this rural area. After getting our plates the lights turn on around us. Electricity is back. We never knew it was missing 😂. Before leaving our AirBnB we had electricity in our room however this place runs on solar energy and batteries. I guess electricity here is a gamble.

    After supper we take our showers and go to bed around 10.
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  • Day11

    Cerro Negro

    February 10 in Nicaragua ⋅ 🌬 27 °C

    The neighbour's rooster wakes me up this morning. It's about 6am so it's not that bad. It took me 2 minutes to fall asleep last night, I guess our trek in the heat was a pretty good workout after all.

    This morning another adventure awaits; we will go boarding down a volcano called Cerro Negro. It is the youngest Volcano in Nicaragua and it is still active. David our guide picks us up at 8am. He tells us that they estimate that Cerro Negro erupts every 20 years. The last eruption was in 1999. We first think he is kidding but he is serious 😳. If there is any sign of activity they would warn us and not allow any tours to get nearby. We should be okay.

    The ride in the Jeep is thankfully not as bumpy as yesterday. There are three other tourists with us going to the activity. Two are American and the other is Columbian.

    Once we get at the base of the volcano, David gives us a backpack and a board. We have 45 minute climb to get to the top. As we ascend we feel the wind becoming stronger and stronger. Our boards catch in the wind and try to pull us like a sail. We have to adjust the way we hold it or else get pulled somewhere we might not want to go. As we get near the top we drop our stuff and head to the other side of the top to see the lovely view and feel the heat of the volcano. You simply dig 20 centimetres and you can feel it being very hot. You also se the steam rising from the hole. You could easily cook an egg.

    After a couple cool photos we head back to our boards. We put on our gear comprised of coveralls, face mask, goggles and gloves. We kind of look like a bunch of minions. We head to the start of the descent after getting the instructions from David. I am a little nervous as the incline from up here can be intimidating. We do no see the bottom as the second half has an even stronger incline. I go first while the others watch. It is pretty fun and I start picking up some speed. Halfway down I feel the incline difference and pick up more speed, I feel rocks flying around me hitting my goggles. I'm glad I have them. Near the bottom my board gets full of rocks and sand and slows down my board to a stop. I have to empty my board before slowing descending the last part of the descent. This was fun. Too bad it's another 45 minutes to get back up.

    We put all our gear away, have a snack and head back to town. We stop for a beer to celebrate surving another adventure 🍻. We exchange contact information with David as he took photos of us and will share them.

    We head back to the hostel to pack our stuff and get ready. We are going to San Jorge for the night. We will sleep there before heading to an island the next day.

    Today is a really windy day. When we arrive at San Jorge we see the trees go sideways and the waves on the lake nearby are about 5 feet high. We try to find a restaurant after checking in our Hostel and find nothing of interest as ther is way too much wind by the water. We decide to dine at the Hostel restaurant. We have pizza and beer 🍕🍻. Tonight we go to bed early watching the Grammy's for a little while.
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  • Day10

    León

    February 9 in Nicaragua ⋅ 🌬 35 °C

    The morning came quickly. I got up and started packing my bags for our departure from Coco Loco. Another aventure awaits for next 5 days.

    We say our goodbyes to everyone and leave for León around 9am. This time we are able to get a better view of the various villages as we travel through them. When we arrived last week it was extremely dark. People are out in the streets doing their thing.

    We get in León around 11am and do our check in at our Hostal. We have the whole place to ourselves. It is quite warmer in town than at the resort. Thankfully there is a little breeze.

    We decide to go and walk around. We quickly visit a large cathedral and then head to find a place to have lunch. After finding a restaurant and taking a seat, the waiter comes to take our order. As he is doing so we hear a very loud siren. The waiter does not look stressed so I decide it's nothing. Ben seems a bit more curious and asks what the sound is for. The siren is to announce that it's noon.

    After lunch we get ready for our hike. Our guide Grethell picks us up directly at the hostel. We have a 1:45 drive to the based the volcano. The first 25 minutes are smooth driving. The remainder is however in a very bumpy dirt road and we get thrown around from side to side. I wish I had a handle to hold.

    We get to the base of the Telica Volcano. This volcano is still active. Our guide explains that its last activity was a month ago 🌋. She also explains that there are wild horses, scorpions and snakes. Watch where you step. Our hike to the top takes about 45 minutes. The circumference of the rim of the crater is around 750m. It is quite the hole. We do not see the lava as the sulfuric smoke blocks the view but we can hear it hissing.

    We buy drinks from a guy who carries a cooler at the top everyday and enjoy the view. He offers beer or coke. After our drink we head to another spot to go watch the sunset. On our way we make a small detour to see the bats in a small cave hidden. As we approach the bats hear us and start flying everywhere. There are many bats coming and going flying inches above our heads. It is quite interesting to watch and hear.

    When then head to a spot to watch the sunset. As we watch, we chat with our guide to learn more about her an what she does for fun in her spare time. She has 3 dogs and loves music and movies. She is very kind.

    After sunset we walk back to the top of the Volcano to try and see some lava. We still see nothing, Grethell says that we have to wait for a bit more darkness. We see a small crack with orange lava open for a couple of seconds and then it disappears. All excited we try and see if we can spot more. 2 minutes later we hear a small explosion. Our guide asks if it was us that threw a large rock. We say no, she then says "Sorry guys we have to go". Because it's active she does not want to take any chances as she has had one scary encounter 3 years ago and had to run down. We are not running down but walking fast enough. Thankfully we do not hear any other loud sounds from the Volcano.

    We get into the Jeep and start our bumpy ride back to the city. My butt is happy when we finally arrive on pavement. We are taken to a bar where we share a beer with Grethell. We eat supper there and then take a nice deserved shower before going to bed.
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  • Day9

    Last day in Paradise

    February 8 in Nicaragua ⋅ 🌙 27 °C

    Today is our last full day at Coco Loco. We want to take the opportunity to surf. The waves sound and look pretty big this morning so we grab a board and head into the water. The water is pretty warm for 6:30am. We have fun in the waves until we need to get ready for yoga.

    After Yoga and Big Breakfast we chill by the pool and have some drinks. Piña Coladas 🍹are the popular drink this past week.

    After lunch we head to the beach for more surfing. I really enjoyed being on the board. The feeling when you catch the wave and get some speed is really amazing. I will have to do this again.

    We have one last session of Sonic yoga and then have dinner. Tonight the crew has planned a party and a bon fire by the beach.

    We head to the beach around 10pm, the crew brings speakers and coolers with drinks. We have lots of fun dancing under the stars. A great night of fun. We finish the day by going skinny dipping at the pool to cool down before bed. With all the lights off the sky is pretty amazing to watch.
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