So sorry for the long delay. We really had a great time in Nicaragua. It is a beautiful country with interesting, friendly people The next few posts will detail some of our experiences in the country. But please know that we left Nicaragua before their political unrest settled back in. We were safe during our entire visit and would not hesitate to return to Nicaragua in the future. Now on with the story.
Somoto Canyon is an adventure hikers paradise. The full package includes hiking, swimming, jumping from cliffs, riding in a boat and riding a horse. We did not partake of that, but instead sat by the riverside for some great birdwatching. We also hiked along the riverbanks and enjoyed the beauty of the canyon. Then we were off to the outskirts of the capital city of Nicaragua. We had been invited to the home of a family in the Managua suburbs. We were looking forward to meeting them and parking at their place. And then this wonderful family adopted us and became our new home! We spent many terrific days with them as they shared meals, history and showed us more Nicaragua beauty. I can never say thank you enough for the love they shared with us! Leonel is a big follower of overlanders and has met a few other travelers. He researches about rigs, solar and features that travelers need. But he had never driven a large rig before. So before we left, we had him take our truck camper for a run around the neighborhood. He was nervous, but he liked it! It was so fun spending time with this family!
They took us to Managua one night to see the city highlights. It is a gorgeous city with a wonderful lake front family park that includes many features. We strolled the lakefront and ate ice cream. We watched families enjoying numerous playgrounds, a large water park with slides and skating areas. The park also includes miniature models of the major churches around the country so the people can see what every church looks like, even though they may never travel there. There is also have a miniature model of downtown Managua before the damaging earthquake. Visitors walk down main street and observe the old buildings. Another interesting feature is a full-sized, passenger jet airplane with all the seats inside. Stairs allow visitors to walk up and go inside the cockpit and then strap themselves in to a seat for a flight. Leonel explained that it was donated because most people will never experience an airplane flight, but this allows them to see the process. It was a lovely evening with our new Nicaragua family! Managua at night is a beautiful place. See the video posted below for a view of the city streets and the brightly lit up “tree of life” that lines the main street.
One of our nights in Managua we attended a fire show presented by a group of international fire artists and dancers. It was an interesting event that crossed boundaries of language, art and style. Much like street performance in the USA, these artists work for tips and try to legitimize their art in the eyes of others.
Near the capital of Managua is an active volcano named Masaya. The Masaya Volcano Park is best visited twice in my opinion. Once during the day when you can look into the smoky crater and also observe the incredible geological heaves and structures surrounding the crater. And then a second visit at night, when you can see the molten lava inside the bottom of the crater and hear the bubbling violence of a volcanic eruption awaiting just below the surface.
Masaya Volcano Park also has a wonderful little museum. Two very interesting pieces of information are as follows.
First I was interested in their depiction of The Americas. As a citizen of The United States of America we often say the word “America” as if it defines the USA. But in a more global reality, America is a huge interconnected land mass consisting of North and South America. And in the middle is Central America. And in the middle of that is Nicaragua. So from this global view-point you can see that the identifier “America”, refers to a large area!
The second display that I found very intriguing was the illustration of the plates that run along fault lines throughout the Americas. These plates are areas of earthquake activity. And much of our travels thus far have been over and around these lines! When staring into the face of a bubbling volcano, it makes you take these shifting plates and their subsequent volcanic activity very seriously!
And speaking of plates, lets talk about food! The meals in Nicaragua are not very salty or spicy but they can be a little greasy or oily. The meat dishes are not spicy, picante or hot. And the typical breakfast plate is shown below. It is a fried egg, a fried plantain, fried soft cheese and a scoop of beans with rice. To our palate this meal requires a good shaker of salt and pepper to become tastier. But it is filling and cheap! The breakfast shown here would cost about $2.00 (usd).
One evening we attended a soccer (futbal) game in Managua. The announcement said that it would be Penn State versus the local pro team. When we arrived we discovered that it was indeed a team from Penn State (women’s team) playing the Nicaragua professional women’s team. It was a fun game to watch, and we behaved like good fans, cheering for the Nica’s! And after our fun in and around Managua, we went to the beach! Well, we didn’t camp on the beach, but we went to a beach town called Las Penitas to attend a week of Spanish language refresher. Our campsite was inside the garden area, and our classroom was in the main building. We had a great teacher, who was patient with our terrible progress and short memory! But in the end we both grew from the opportunity. And while we were there we took some great walks along the beach at sunset.
After Spanish classes were over, we were ready to explore some more and use our newly developed skills. So we left the ocean and started driving around Nicaragua again. Keep watching as we talk about islands, lakes and ferry rides!