Nicaragua 2008

Trip Start Jan 24, 2008
Trip End Feb 09, 2008

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Monday, February 18, 2008

To us, after a year of "travels" (see 2005-2006:South Asia & Africa) there is quite a distinction between a holiday and travel. Travel is taking a 20-seat bus with 50 other people and various market-bound cargo (squash, fish, chickens, etc.) for four hours (75 miles) whilst being subjected to a horribly tinny rendition of pop diva Celine Dion's music being played at superfast speed on the bus stereo, and then arriving to find a hostel replete with cold-water bucket showers and occaisionally-working electricity...

This trip was intended to be, and was, pure holiday.  We relaxed, we spent no fewer than three days in one place, we didn't stay in the cheapest places, and we didn't step foot on one local bus.  Justin claims it was all for the sake of the baby.  What ever justification we want to use, it was one of the most relaxing and tranquil visits to a developing country either of us have experienced

We arrived in Nicaragua hoping to feel the warm sun on our pasty white "Goretex" protected skin.  Hiking, spending quality time in a hammock, swimming and drinking Nicaragua's coffee were the only items on our agenda.

We started our journey in Granada where we wandered the streets, went to the local market and sampled the local fare. We took some day trips to the Pueblos Blancos, which are known for different crafts such as furniture making and ceramics.  We took a hike around the carter of Volcano Mombacho which peers over Granada from afar.  After four days in Granada, we headed out to Ometempe, and Island on Lake Nicaragua.  We stayed next to a nature reserve where we hiked, swam and read for four more days.  Keeping our swim trunks on, we headed further south to the Pacific Coast - San Juan del Sur.  We had heard this laid back surfer town compared to Cabo San Lucas, but we found it to be much quainter and more laid back than the highly touristed town in Baja California.
We both noted the genuine friendliness of the Nicaraguan people; we say genuine because, in other parts of the world, we often felt like we were being viewed as big dollar bills when people greeted us. But in Nicaragua, we found that the prices we were asked to pay were the same as those asked of locals. And people didn't want to bargain over things either. The price was the price, and knowing this made things even more relaxing. We encountered few English-speakers. When we did, we heard some wry jokes about Nicaragua's tumultuous recent past (the Sandinista-Contra conflicts of the 80's), yet people seemed strongly optimistic about their future.

After living in the lap of luxury (we spent three nights at one of Nicaragua's fanciest hotels) and swimming in pools with views of the Pacific, we headed to the Northern highlands where some of Nicaragua's finest coffee is grown.  We spent three nights at a coffee farm, Selva Negra ,where we hiked, relaxed and, of course, drank plenty of organic, single origin, shade grown coffee.  Justin did some cabybara hunting with his camera and Jamie spotted some colorful birds with her binoculars. 

Before we knew it, two weeks had passed and our final journey together - before the two of us becomes three - had ended.  The best part about traveling, besides being together, is just living in the moment and enjoying our surroundings, each other, and a country's people.

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