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Journal | Adventures in Nicaragua & Costa Rica - Travel Virgins

San Jacinto Mud Pits

by Anne Watcher on Saturday March 16th, 2013 at 9:20am

We often view volcanoes from a distance and for good reasons. They are powerful, dangerous and beautiful all at the same time. I always wanted to get up close to one and have been on the crater edge of a couple here in Central America however this was a new experience for me. Walking along the dry mud field as steam rises from the vents in the ground, hissing as it does and boiling hot mud bubbling from the volcanic action below makes you realize on a whole new level the power underneath you.

Entrance to the mud pits

This interesting spot is located on the edge of the small town of San Jacinto about 20 kms. from north east of Leon. The geothermal activity that feeds these mud pits and steam vents is connected to nearby Telica Volcano. It isn't really pretty to look at but has an appeal as you walk down the path crossing the now dried up river (it does flow in the rainy season) and see various sized holes in the ground, hot sulfur smelling steam rising from them. As you get closer the sound is amazing!! Bubbling and gurgling of the mud and water and hissing from the steam.

It has become a tourist attraction and a source of income for the small town. Many travel books give a negative slant to the local children wanting to guide you through the pits but this was not our experience. It was interesting to have them with us, they were polite and very knowledgeable about the area. Never once did they ask for money even when they retrieved hot fresh mud for us or made us a candle holder from the clay in the fields. All was by voluntary donations except for the entrance fee.

Geothermal power plants are also located in this area about 1 km away according to our guide. This is also the starting point for hikes up Telica Volcano.

These young locals, are Karina and Javier. Karina was our guide and gave us some details about the mud pits and kept us safe. Javier is molding a candle holder from the freshly harvested clay, as we talk.

Using a stick Karina gathers mud to give to us. It is very good for the skin she says and at a C$10 donation a lot cheaper than going to a spa. Notice the bubbling mud in the foreground, it can be up to 200 degrees in temperature.

The vents where all shapes and sizes, some large like this one pictured, others mere holes in the ground.This is where the guides came in handy as you never knew where the ground below you was getting soft. It had a very distinct smell to it. Volcan Santa Clara in the background (left side), is one that is passed when hiking the path up to the the summit of Volcan Telica (part of the ridge on the right side).

Dried up sulfur which is now completely odour free

I wanted to see how hot the water was so knelt down to rinse my hands. It was hot hot hot, not burning my skin but you sure wouldn't bath in it!

Where Javier gets the clay for his creations. Notice the small vines with flowers growing near the pits. It is amazing how something so pretty can grow under such harsh conditions.

Adding designs the old fashioned way
Carlos David adding the decorator's touch!
The town of San Jacinto as seems from the mud pits


The park is open daily between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Entrance fee is $2 US for foreigners, less for locals. The town of San Jacinto is easy to get to by public bus. From Leon take the San Isidro bus and get off at San Jacinto. The town is just off the highway and the park entrance is straight down the road where you exit the bus. Cost for the bus is C$12.

Beach Vendors

by Anne Watcher on Wednesday March 6th, 2013 at 10:01am

Each week we see these children selling their shell creations and coconut drinks to tourists along the beaches of Poneloya at Las Penitas. Even though they aren't allowed to come up into the restaurants or businesses along the strip - - - they do try hard to get your attention from the edges of the properties.

Once someone notices them, they cautiously approach and show the curious people what they have. In the case of the children selling coconuts, they pull out their knife and start chopping the top off and then slip in a straw.

From left to right : Antonio, Sayda, Sixto, and Franci

They actually have a very good way of selling and work hard at countering a persons rejections, by forcing a free necklace or shell creation on them. "It's for you" - "It's free, take it" - "I want to give it to you, no money". And then of course who is so cold-hearted to not purchase something from them right? (Us I guess, as we haven't purchased anything. But we refuse their free offerings as well, kindly telling them that we can't take it as it would be better for them to make some money from what they want to give us).

Nicaraguan Pico

by Anne Watcher on Friday March 1st, 2013 at 8:48pm

A quick and easy way to start the morning is with a fresh cup of coffee and a freshly made Pico, a sweet combination of bread, cheese and sugar. The one we had this morning didn't have much if any cheese in it, in fact I thought I tasted a bit of pineapple but it was very delicious.

Freshly made Pico

Recipe for Picos:

To make picos take a basic bread dough rolled fairly thin and cut into triangles. Place some cane sugar (sometimes sold as "Sugar in the Raw") and Quajada which is a powdery soft cheese from Nicaragua (white farmer's cheese can be used), in one corner of the triangle and fold to seal the edges. Sprinkle the top with more sugar and bake.

Actually this method is used with various fillings. Bakeries have many varieties, quite often containing meat or fruit.

Ocean Retreat at Playa Roca

by Anne Watcher on Monday February 25th, 2013 at 11:08am

One of the things I love about living in Leon is it's closeness to the ocean. It is such a nice way to relax, have a swim and take in a beautiful sunset. Being only 18 km. away the beaches of Poneloya and Las Penitas we frequent the coast weekly. Although there are many places along the shore, Playa Roca has become a favourite of ours (and many of our friends).

Entrance to Playa Roca

Offering a great place to sit and enjoy some lunch, Playa Roca is also a great place to watch the waves and surfers. An upper balcony also offers a perfect view of the rocks and ocean. Being right on the sandy beach, you can use this as your "base" for a day of swimming, shell picking, sun bathing or walking along the great shoreline.

Bar area - the drinks are always cold!

There are ample tables for all to enjoy. If you prefer the sun, just move one out into it. They also offer a fresh water outdoor shower to wash off the salt water.

Want to stay for a night or two? Playa Roca also offers rooms to rent.

The rocks and waves of Playa Roca
Sunset walk along the sandy beach

David and Cookie Cardin, the owners, along with their friendly staff - make everyone feel welcome at Playa Roca - - - so grab a towel and your suit and join us!!

If you have a car it is an easy drive from Leon. Just follow NIC12 right to the ocean. Public buses also leave on the hour from Sultiava Mercadito. Cost is C$13 per person.

Playa Roca Beach Hotel Facebook Page

Horse and Wagon Transportation

by Anne Watcher on Saturday February 23rd, 2013 at 9:03pm

When it doesn't fit on a bus or a bike - and is too big to carry by hand - - - just hire a horse and wagon.

This scene was different than some of the others that have passed us by, because the driver wasn't visible and as well there is the fellow trailing behind on his bicycle, bringing the ladder in order to erect the awning when they get to the location.

Journal | Adventures in Nicaragua & Costa Rica - Travel Virgins

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San Jacinto Mud Pits

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