It seems there are quite a few reasons why Nicaragua is a great choice for some serious drifting. Volcano hikes, Pacific and Caribbean beaches, Colonial cities (and villages), relative stability, budget friendly hotels and transportation options. Add all of this to the fact that Nicaragua borders Costa Rica and it’s simple to see why this country is an obvious winner with backpackers, Spanish students, surf bums and us two Drifters.
The taste buds enjoyed Nicaragua quite a bit as well. Crossing the border into this country finds one getting further and further from the over used corn tortillas that seem to populate every meal north of here. Here we are introduced to the “Fritanga”, which is a sidewalk eatery set up around a large grill. For fun, refer to the person grilling all those wonderful cuts of pork and pieces of chicken as the serial griller or the thrill griller. Grill Sergeant would work just as well. Served with the meat is rice, which is oddly absent from the countries north of Nicaragua. As mentioned, we felt a whole new world of flavor suddenly open up before us! There were also establishments that can be refered to as “Steam tables”. These were like a cafeteria-style place offering a huge variety foods where you point to what you want heaped onto your plate. Outside of Central America you may never come across a restaurant billing itself as “Nicaraguan”, but damn did we taste a great assortment of yummy food here!
One of our favourites during our stay wound up being the city of Masaya, where we peered into the bowels of the earth atop sulfuric Volcan Masaya. The other honour would go to the near perfect island of Big Corn, which basks about 60 miles off Nicaragua’s East coast. Being holed up in the ramshackle town of Bluefields, while waiting for a boat out to the afore-mentioned island, turned out to be quite a treat as well, thank you very much.
Your Drifters spent a bit of time in the capital city of Managua. We tried very hard to find postcards depicting Managua, but they were not to be had. There are no souvenir stands, no craft shops, no visitor centers. Managua is not quite ready for that sort of thing yet. One thing is for certain; this city is hot and sprawling. Any colonial charm that may have once existed has been leveled by quite recent seismic forces. One only needs to go back a generation in order to see the drastic changes that have come about here. The dust has only recently settled, but nobody here is looking back. If, dear reader, you have spent any time reading our thoughts on places like this, you will not be shocked to learn we fell hard for Managua.
What else can we say? This country was a bit of a pleasant surprise to us, for we had never been here before. Perhaps this goes to prove that it is good to not have expectations too lofty; the higher you aim, the more likely your arrows will sail over the target. Some of our best moments happened here. It took us 6 days to finally get to the Corn Islands and we cherished each minute spent waiting to get there. On a separate adventure there was a 10 hour river journey that brought us past lazing alligators along the banks, topped off with screeching macaw parrots and boisterous howler monkeys overhead… for $11. A 10 hour journey for $11 !! How did such a spell be cast upon us? Come here and find out for yourself.