The transit route, sailing along the San Juan River

It was the time of the gold rush and thousands of adventurers were preparing to go populate the rich lands of California without having to cross the inhospitable interior of the United States without pacification. Cornelio Venderbilt in 1849 opened the route between New York and San Francisco crossing Nicaragua, the mythical route consisted of the following sections:

From New York in the USA to San Juan del Norte in Nicaragua, traversing the San Juan River. The San Juan River is born near the village of San Carlos, a small river town of Lake Coccibolca, also called Nicaragua Lake. This fascinating river is the lake’s own drainage to the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It crosses the Indus-Maiz Reserve, one of the best preserved and leafy rainforests in Central America, as well as a border with the neighboring and rich Costa Rica.

The route continues going up the river San Juan passing by the already mentioned population of San Carlos already in the lake Coccibolca to the town of La Virgen in the west bank of the lake, from there the travelers crossed a scarce 20 kilometers of low lands and plains without Hardly any difficulties until the locality of San Juan del Sur on the shores of the Pacific Ocean where they were embarked to the golden San Francisco.

There was also a route from Europe from Southampton, San Nazario or Hamburg to San Juan del Norte.

The route had such famous travelers as Mark Twain or William Walker

In the spring of 2008 we decided to visit the Nicaraguan part of the transit route. Our objective was to descend the San Juan River from San Carlos to San Juan del Norte and then to visit San Juan del Sur in the Pacific as a rest.

From Chiles Costa Rica to San Carlos Nicaragua

We left on Sunday, April 6, 2008, from the Costariquense village of Chiles, bordering Nicaragua, through the Frio River. Los Chiles is a dilapidated poblachon completely dispersed surrounded by agricultural estates with wooden houses and zinc roofs, some incredibly well defended for its modest presentation, which indicates that robberies do not grow. As soon as you get off the bus, the money changers are assaulting you, here this business is exclusively female, after going a long way to get to the emigration wharves we charge a dollar for leaving and 10 for the panga that is what they call the river barges Collective agreements.

The panga

As we descended the steep riverbed stairs, we were stunned to see the small crowd of people, about 20 people among women, men, young, old, and children, with their sacks and various things, if there was no place for a needle! The boatman’s assistant from the top of the pier shouted to him that he waited because two gringos were missing, even if it seems a lie the two gringos were us.

It was a delight, almost two hours of water travel through the reserve of the Gatusos, which is the name of some Indians of one of the most primitive branches of America, pushed by the migrations that came from the north were installed both sides of the Border, is now a biological reserve around the geographical area of ​​the San Juan river.

From the panga we observed and that we were going to motor and rapiditos; Ducks, birds very similar to our common cormorants, kingfisher Amazonian, kingfisher collarejo, white egrets and boyera and blue, ibis blanco, walkers macular, the Central American jacana also called gallito de monte It is a paradise for birds, among the trees Spider monkeys and congos or howler monkeys. Seeing our interest in nature, our circumspect fellow travelers start naming us birds and other animals and encouraged by our good knowledge of Spanish they lose their timidity, they are all Nicaraguans who return to their land but come back as illegal, as they came out, do not seem too much Concerned about their situation.

Gallina de monte Jacana spinosa 23 cm

When you arrive at the mouth of the Rio Frio in Lake Cocibolca the first image is San Carlos at dusk but scarcely is the 18 hours are easements of the tropics, those evenings so short, an osprey is fishing in front of the lively port, when we disembarked a soldier Young Commander Walter, organizes us by ordering us to train in two queues, those who have passports and those who do not have it, needless to say, the majority queue is the one without passports, it does not matter they are in their land and many of them in their Our own people, the tail with passport we formed three, we and a somewhat older countryman with a missionary look of some church or a cooperator of an ONS, we look for a hotel and a terrace to relax.

San Carlos is totally turned over to the lake, it is a quiet town, with painted wooden houses and zinc roofs, walking by it at dusk even at night does not give any sense of danger even of restlessness, sunrises and sunsets are jaleados by a Thundering rooster choir, is a nostalgic sound that sends us back to the holidays of our childhood from our home villages, also puts us on the track that it is likely that we can eat chickens and eggs like those before.

You can see the footprint of the Spanish cooperation, in two beautiful piers paid by the Basque Government and a community laundry at the moment without water hitch and therefore totally in disuse paid in turn by the City of Badalona, ​​has a beautiful square of Spanish style so prevalent in America with its church that we saw full of children, but Catholicism is also there in disbanded, proliferate premises dedicated to other Christian cults, in some house can read the inscription, do not insist we are Catholics, test Of the missionary diligence of other Christians.

Catholic house

The best place to watch the sunset is the viewpoint of the canyons, but from the terrace of the Mirasol, the large lake Cocibolca acquires a totally unreal lead.

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