Hello Dear Family & Friends!
"Adios Dal pues!"
(Good bye in Spanish but used as a greeting here.
o.k., go on, fine in Nicaragua)
(good day Moskito)
"There is one thing stronger than all the armies of
the world, and that is an idea whose time has come."
(Victor Hugo - 19th century author)
Incorrigible. Nicaragua, the largest country and least
visited in Central America, coined the phrase 'never
give up'! Zero ancient archeological sites remain and many
of the countries museums, colonial buildings and
theatres have been destroyed by years of revolution, a
raging civil war and natural disasters. Seventeen
volcanoes take turns erupting, earthquakes on the
countries 11 seismic faults level towns
or whole pueblos and hurricanes blow coastal fishing
the map. What remains is a vibrant landscape of
rivers, tropical rainforests, lush mountains and
dazzling beaches. The 'Nicas' are strong
individuals who have survived hardships, live with
little infrastructure in remote areas and yet continue to
have a passion for life. Lively music blares as
colorful markets offer a medley of handicrafts and
off the yoke of the Spanish in 1821 the country was
seized by American adventurer William Walker in 1855.
He was overthrown and executed in 1857, but only after
burning colonial Granada. What in the world was
this criminal element doing invading a country?
Has much changed? In the early 1900's US
military bases were established and the US and CIA took
control of the military. A string of puppet
presidents and dictators came and went.
Assassinations and civil unrest prevailed. In the
1980's the US funded the Contra guerillas to overthrow
the Sandinistas. Once discovered years later, the funds were
withdrawn and undoubtedly the control of Nicaragua went
underground. The CIA activity here is alive and
well, with corruption of politicians allowing free
reign. The political situation in Central
America remains as shaky as life on the fault line.
However unless all out fighting erupts, traveling
in the region allows one to enjoy the country without
knowing the bubbling mess under the surface.
in Managua by bus was nothing less than a shock.
Having 'gone bush' after weeks of quiet star filled
nights and buying whatever we could find in little
wooden shacks along dirt paths; we just walked around
drop jawed at the size and confusion of the country's
capitol. The downtown has suffered greatly from
the 1972 earthquake
that swallowed up the historic colonial buildings and
killed over 20,000 people. Gone are the cobble
stone streets and character, replaced by a number of far
from attractive modern buildings and large expanses of
open spaces where historical structures had been.
Such is life in a country with 17
volcanoes ready to erupt when they have a bad day.
If that wasn't bad enough the civil war of the late 70's made sure to
bomb or destroy whatever was spared by Nature.
further look at 'Nica' life on the other coast.
Different coast, different world. Modern malls on
the outskirts of the city attract residents from miles
around. But I still don't know who can afford to
buy a pair of sandals for $200? The contrast of
poverty and opulence within the borders of Nicaragua is
typical worldwide. We still feel that the
simple joy felt in the poor rural villages surpasses
those people shopping for fancy footwear. Can you imagine high heels walking down a muddy lane
along the east coast? The locals would line up from
miles around. I can hear the belly laughs now!
visited the national University, where we were warmly
welcomed by the Regent and Vice Regents and groups of
students. Joseph spoke on the benefits of e-text in our
modern world. Education is the key to solving the
ills of our planet.
founded in 1524, is a pleasant colonial town, perfect
for walking the cobblestone streets, sitting in the
squares, visiting fine restaurants or stopping by the many well restored cathedrals.
Tourist flock here, some of the first we have seen in
over a month, and we got our quota of, "Hi!, "Where
are you from?" "How long are you traveling?"
"Have you been to ............. ?" We met a fun
couple from Australia, Bernie and Trevor, who sold everything and moved
overseas a year ago. They excitedly told us of their
adventures over pizza or a beer in the outside cafes of Calle Calzada street. The highlight of our stay was to
hook up with Rae Ann and Lee, friends of many years from Ocean View, on
our Big Island of Hawaii. This fiercely
independent couple abandoned ship 8 years ago and have
been teaching or just living overseas. Rae Ann was
raised in Central and South America traveling about with
her Dad as he moved gold. She knows the ropes in
this often confusing and intricate web of life in the
Americas. We met for
lunch many times at our favorite Nuestra Mundo buffet
and learned of their life in Nicaragua over the last 2 years.
A week full of Aloha!
Island of two volcanoes. The only place I had
marked to visit in the country looms in massive Lake
Nicaragua. Taking a 5 hour boat down from Granada
we arrived after dark and were whisked away down a 4 mile 'road' of bumps in a
mini van. Spending the night in the northern
coastal town of Altagracia, we walked the black streets
punctuated by the singing from an ad hoc church or a
small shack selling beans and rice. Choosing food
for the belly over food for the soul we passed several
hours enjoying the local action along the sand streets.
the good things about traveling is that we left the
worry of ownership of houses behind. When
the water wasn't working the following morning we simply
got on the bus and moved on. Not our problem!
Driving through the lush countryside with green pastures
of the islands farms, we finally settled in Playa Santo Domingo (Beach). Playa Santo Domingo is the
wedge of land that connects the massive volcanoes of Concepción
and Maderas, the product of rich volcanic soil that
washed down from the slopes of both volcanoes over
millennia, gradually connecting the two islands. We had promised ourselves a R & R
leave for a week and that is exactly what we did.
Nothing. Getting the one room right on the beach
we swam, wrote, rested and hiked. Next to a
vegetarian restaurant we had the best smoothies daily
but I ended up cooking nearby over a fire. Fully
smoked and flavorful (not only the food but me) I cooked
alongside Grandma and daughter, turning out tasty vegan
plates, with enough food to fill us, not just look nice.
Only eating one cooked meal a day we need more substance
without just starch fillers; which my plates of
international flavored vegetables are able to provide.
Buying the freshest vegetables in the market and using
the spices I haul in my daypack, we end up with Thai
Tom Ka soup or Indian curry on an island in the middle
of Nicaragua. The spice of life!
people, Chorotegas and
Nicaraos, were the first people to settle Ometepe.
Their descendants have a small town, laid back manner
which makes you feel at home the minute you step off the
ferry. The Baile de las Ramas
(Dance of the Branches) is a major component of one of the
celebrations held on the island. The dancers tear off smaller branches of
the guanacaste tree, and hold
them to their heads while dancing to imitate the worker
zompopo (leaf-cutter) ants
carrying leaves off to the ant hills. Leaf cutter
ants work non stop in the tropics like the residents during
high Christmas and Easter season. During low
season everything grinds to a halt and community members
to actually swim in the revitalizing waters and relax
like their ancestors. Low season is a great time
to visit anywhere; lower prices and relaxed locals in
exchange for a little rain at night or a brief downpour
in the afternoon.
part way up the Maderas Volcano, stopping for a lunch at
Finca Magdalina a co-op coffee plantation nationalized
during the war. We hiked an hour further to look
at interesting pre-columbium petro glyphs hidden
in the dense forest. Roberto and
Marcus from the local Community Center led the way through
winding paths. On the way back we arranged for
Joseph to give some e-text to the Center for use in
their community education project. With
either Concepcion or Madera Volcanoes providing a stunning backdrop we
walked almost 4 miles back to our beach, a real effort
after our day of hiking up the volcano. Weren't we
supposed to be resting?
days later our daily walk took us past the sign for
Sendero Pena Inculta Park. Not to be missed, this rocky path led us for
hours around a dense tropical forest full of pristine
old growth trees, teeming with birds singing and monkeys
squawking. The little office building was closed
tight, as were a lot of places on the island during low
season, but it would have been a worthwhile entrance fee
to help protect these majestic, rare old growth trees.
Granada we basked in the relaxing atmosphere only a
colonial town can offer with historical buildings, central
squares, and horses clopping along the stone streets.
Our bedroom was where the first President of Nicaragua
slept over 100 years ago. Spacious yet simple we
luxuriated in the tiled bath, high ceilings and our own
patio with an enormous 2 tiered inner courtyard.
Our range of rooms over the last 10 years has been from
thatched roofed mud huts in Africa, to camel hair yurts
in Inner Mongolia to oceanfront penthouses in Vietnam
and now a colonial room of the first President in
Nicaragua. What next? The truth is that
right now, we carry our home in our heart. And it
is a happy home.
so it goes.........................................Next
continuing up Central America to Honduras. Until next month
Keep Smiling and remember to live with an 'Attitude of
Gratitude'. Your cup really IS half full.
Thanks for traveling with us and for keeping in touch!
We love hearing from you.
Love, Light & Laughter,
xoxoox Nancy & Joseph
$1.00US = 24
friends we met recommended checking out
for volunteer experiences in exchange for room and
board. Couch surfing is also an option for meeting
people and a free place to crash.
Jardin de Italia, a quiet little place with basic but
comfortable rooms with BIG screened windows!!
Green lush courtyard the perfect place to hang out away
from the fury of the big city. Taxi here from
where the Aguillar bus drops you off from Rama about
150-200c. Near Tico bus terminal in the center
part of town - Barrio Marta Quezada. $20 - discount for longer
stays. Lesbia is a bit gruff but warms up.
Room #2 has lots of air and a good fan. Phone #
2blocks down and one block over is
a water shop next to Eskimo. Buy a big 20 litres
and pay 10c to have someone haul it over.
The best part of this place is the
local neighborhood, a safe location (don't walk anywhere
at night in Managua) and the best vegetarian food in Managua.
Two BUFFET(t pronounced loudly) restaurants one across
from the other owned by the same owner. For only
60c or less you can have a plate full of about 10
different salads, potatoes. and vegetables.
An honest, helpful taxi driver with a
Sisto Domingo cell 8470-2461 Also a jazz player and? Call
him for a good price and safe arrival
Naturaleza - Health Food Store
phone: 2222 6944
The address to the store is;
Porton Hospital Bautista
2 c abajo 1 c al lago
1/2 c abajo
There is a guard outside and one inside plus helpers and
watchers. You must take a taxi for safety and to find
down the main street towards the the Lake is an
interesting look at Managua. Squatters live in
crumbling ruins next to large expanses where the debris
was cleaned away. The Cultural Palace is worth a
look as are the monuments dotting the open areas.
The lake is dirty and undeveloped but worth having a
drink in one of the little cafes (during the day).
miss stopping in all of the historic churches scattered
through town and try to get lost in the back far reaches
of the local municipal market.
Hotel Terrasol: Avenida Barricada- A
friendly small boutique hotel with several rooms with
balconies overlooking the street and the volcano.
Every convenience, with a good cafe downstairs.
Low season $25/$35 discount for longer stays. The
street gets a little noisy at times but there are rooms
at the back. Phone # 552-8825 email:
75 varas al Sur
Nuestro Mundo First President' s
Next to City Hall on the Central Park, one of the oldest
houses in the center of Granada.
Rooms/Apartments $20-$40 night
extremely friendly and helpful, plus has one of the best
smiles in Granada. Call him to book ahead as there
are only a few rooms. Fantastic location right on
the park, yet quiet in the inner courtyard. Wifi. Ask
for the President's suite! # 89839803
one of the best buffets in town was the 12-3 at Nuestro
Mundo. 60c left you with a plate full of tasty
food and they will make extra vegetables for
vegetarians. Sit out side enjoying your tasty food
, while watching the activity of the Central Park or
Cathedral across the street.
Museo: One block from the plaza, worth a stop in
to see thousands of pre-columbian artifacts. (free)
a lush, cool relaxing courtyard. A pplace to hang
out and escape the heat or noise. Fresh baked
deserts and lots of vegetarian options. Music
every other Fri night.
off the La Libertad side of Central Park is a large,
lively pizza place (maybe Tele Pizza). Full of locals and a few
visitors they make great vegan pizzas, loading the
fixings on. Worth a change from rice and beans.
Hostal San Angel:
Across the street from Nuestro Mundo
Singles $12 with bath, double $20-24. Small, older
rooms but good value. Orlando and family welcome
you into their home. WiFi in living room.
We had the pleasure of being treated to an excellent
vegetarian dinner in Masaya at Verdes. Look it up
on the internet for an amazing classy place to spend an
evening. Candlelight, indoor and outdoor dining
and a wide range of diners and tapas. Even an
organic store attached.
Hotel Castillo: We were approached by a tout on
the ferry who proceeded to gather up all the stray
travelers and take them the dark, bumpy 3km into town
for 20c each. We stayed at his offered place with
bath for $15. The room was newly renovated but
musty and when there was no water the next morning we
decided not to spend another night s planned. The
little town - mostly in the dark- was a pleasure to walk
around. Everyone was so friendly. The town
central park was an eclectic collection of cement
volcanoes and paths with dogs and children playing.
In hindsight I would have taken the
van in then walked across the street to the newer hotel
starting with a K. A room in the back, 2nd floor
Playa Santa Domingo:
Hospedaje Buena Vista
Isla de Ometepe - Nicaragua
This is the budget option
on Playa Santo Domingo. There is an even
cheaper place next door, but it is not
recommended. Eco lodge starts at $60. Rooms are
a bit faded and not as flashy as the pricier
places in the area, but reliable, clean and
friendly. An excellent choice if you're
looking to stay on the beach for a
reasonable price. No reservations accepted.
Room #1 is on the water and the best for
air flow. The staff can be a bit
indifferent but just enjoy the manicured,
clean place they have created. Right
on the lake!!!
Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua
Per Room Prices:
At the other end:
Hotel Costa Azul - back up from the lake but
the lobby still on the road. Steps
down to the sand, great views from many of
the large rooms. Off season $20 per
room - less for 3 nights or more.
Phone: # 8958 4943 Great
rooms for a good price.
organic farms to check out around the island
San Juan Del Sur:
Pink house right on the beach
Low season $15/night
buildings surround the cobblestone streets and
A beautiful young traditional dancer in the Square.
Pre-performance jitters backstage.
Genuine smiles abound.
Contemplative moment between dances.
Hats off to you!
Toyland on wheels.
Colorful historic murals abound.
A beauty amongst the
flowers. She gave me a flower after
we talked with her and took her photo.
A new scene awaits through every door!
The main cathedral off the Central Plaza.
Light, bright sunshine colors inside.
A classy final ride to church and beyond.
Horse drawn carriages
at the Plaza.
Bands playing in the
'Nica' music is always playing in the Square.
Goofing with our long time Hawaiian friends, Lee and
outside our presidential suite in Granada. They have been on the
road for 7 years, settling here the last 4.
Wonder if Nuns get a discount?
Heading out of Granada
towards Ometepe Island, 4 hours
across Lake Nicaragua.
Ometepe means "Island of two volcanoes" - Concepción and Maderas.
The view from our room on Playa Santa Domingo.
This fish eagle is enjoying a fresh fish lunch.
Like blue jays in Canada or Mynas
in the tropics these large
ornate birds sit in the trees above 'laughing'; waiting
down and steal part of your food!
A two foot long iguana sunning himself on the wall.
Groups of howler monkeys passed by high in the tree
Sendero Pena Inculta Park. Not to be missed, a rocky path led
for hours around a dense tropical forest full of pristine old growth
trees, teeming with birds singing and monkeys squawking.
As a matter of fact this
IS my room!
This good sized lizard
just wandered in, had a rest on my bag, and
wandered out without saying a word!
The road leading to the hike up Maderas Volcano.
We hiked part way up
the Maderas Volcano, stopping for a lunch
at Finca Magdalina a co-op coffee plantation.
Pre-columbium petro glyphs are hidden in the dense
Back in Managua we spent a full day walking around
at what buildings still remain after earthquakes and
majority of the city's center is vacant lots, ruins or
interesting but a bit tacky new structures.
Old meets new.
An occasional cart or horse drawn wagon clogs
the already busy traffic lanes.
Off to entertain at a wealthy child's birthday
The gap between rich and poor in Managua is immense with
designer boutiques next to squatters shanties.
This is where Roy Orbison really ended up!
(or check out the sunglasses in the movie "They Live!")
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