“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Rolling down the Rio San Juan has been on our bucket list for years. However, having an end to journey toward was not our greatest reward. Instead, the journey itself was our fringe benefit because getting there was half the fun.
Oh the convenience of living beside a small airport! We walked our sandy volcanic path to the airport on a Thursday afternoon and caught a 15 minute flight to San Carlos, Nicaragua. We booked with La Costeña online. Make sure you book early because the planes seat 12 people. At a cost of $85 round trip per person, we felt like it was a bargain, if only for the convenience of walking to and from our house.
Volcano Concepcion displayed her magnificent smoke signals, as she signaled a safe return.
Dormant Maderas volcano, enticed us to return with her wispy clouds blanketing a fresh cold water lagoon in her crater.
Ten minutes later, we passed over the Solentiname Islands, which means place of many guests in the ancient Nahuatl language. We hope to be guests on this archipelago soon.
San Carlos, at the source of the Rio San Juan, greets us with a colorful array of houses and a spectacular view of the Rio San Juan. Surrounded on three sides by a watery horizon, San Carlos is home to about 10,000 people. Founded in 1527, it is one of the oldest towns on the continent and has served as a raucous way station for many travelers over the centuries. Many of the residents were born somewhere else, and ended up here on their way to somewhere else. Their descendants are lake and river merchants, field hands, border soldiers on leave from remote posts, Chontales cattlemen, and gold miners returning from the California Gold Rush of 1848-1855.
When we arrived at the airport in San Carlos, the migration officer asked Ron for our passports. “Who is the president of Nicaragua?” Ron thought he heard him say. “Is this a test?” Ron asked. “Daniel Ortega!” Ron replied. The migration officer and I both laughed and I told Ron, “He’s asking if you are a resident of Nicaragua because he doesn’t see a recent stamp in our passports.” “Oh!” Ron replied laughing. “So does that mean I won?” he joked as he handed him our residency cards.
A dollar taxi ride took us to the center of town to the boat station (very similar to the bus station), where we purchased our tickets for the slow three-hour boat to El Castillo. There are several fast and slow boats daily that make the trip to El Castillo for 140 cords per person. (about $5.38) Boat Schedule
While we were waiting to board the slow boat, we enjoyed watching the local action in town. Ron purchased fishing line here because he couldn’t find any on Ometepe Island.
Rolling down the river! I felt like Proud Mary! It’s true! The journey is what matters in the end! And what an incredible three-hour journey it was. Stay tuned for Rolling down the River: Tina Turner style. 🙂