A country that’s shaped like a corn chip, but packs a punch like a wasabi pea binge. That’s Nicaragua to me.
First impressions of Granada after a 12-hour transit from Honduras.
I remember the beautiful sunset show as we walked around this old dame of a colonial town (the oldest in the “New World’) on St Patrick’s day.
We had dinner on the cobbled streets and watched some crazy good breakdancing .
This was followed by a U2 cover band and buying beers out of an esky. Help yourself style. Perhaps part of this city has opted for the easy tourist buck, but it’s definitely not without its charm.
We had two nights in Granada, but technically only one day. So to make things easy, the tour leader organised a ‘best of’ tour of the surrounding areas with a local guide for approximately US$50 for the day. A bit rich for us given our budget of $70 US a day for the both of us, but from the ‘pitch’ I distinctly remember the words “monkey island” and “free flowing rum punch” on a boat.
I know most posts from Central America sound like a rum-fuelled log where we just happened to see something of a country, but we are seasoned (or pickled) travellers. We know how to do both!
In all seriousness, Nicaragua is known as the country of lakes and volcanoes. So that’s what we went off to see.
Ometepe Island, Nicaragua
When we first booked our tour of Central America, I remember reading about Ometepe Island and thinking this was going to be a highlight of the trip.
The island is beautiful and diverse in its natural offerings and created by two volcanoes.
Plonked in the middle of Lake Nicaragua (which is a freshwater lake), you will find spots where horses freely trot down to the lake to drink.
The volcanoes are Concepcion at 1600m. A tough hike that takes 7-10 hours return and Maderas at 1300m, which whilst is an easier trek it is noted to be harder to get to the trek starting point meaning a decent 8 hours roudtrip.
As we had only one and half days we did neither (I know shock horror!) and opted instead for a day tour to a few key points on the island.
Swimming at Oja de Agua
Ojo de Agua is a natural spring for tourists and the locals. A super cold, but invigorating dip, the water is meant to take years off your looks.
Organic farms, coffee plantations and crafts
If this is your thing then hiring a scooter for about US$30 would be a good option to get to visit a number of small co-ops specialising in tropical fruits and coffee. You will also find it an interesting stop to visit the bus shop with handmade and recycled clothing, organic balms and cooking oils.
There are also examples of petroglyphs on the island. I would say it was a little disappointing having heard that some of the locals re-carve the lines so they are visible for tourists. Any of considerable detail are housed in museums around the world.
Nicaragua is more than Granada and Ometepe and we would have loved to see more of this naturally beautiful country.
Lost in memories with Royuchi Sakomoto’s Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence.