“A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places.” -Isabelle Eberhardt
I knew I was going to enjoy checking out Nicaragua, but no one told me I might fall in love! Wow. Nicaragua is amazing!! I was able to cover a lot of ground on my quick trip, and couldn’t have imagined a better time. I arrived in Managua, the capital city, late on a Thursday night. I was instantly sweating after stepping off of the airplane and I’m still unsure how I survived a winter in Jackson (I love sweating! Haha). I stayed at Managua backpackers in, perfect jumping off point not too far from the airport. I sat down for no longer than 5 minutes before getting invited out by some other travelers (main reason why I love hostels… I never feel alone!). We grabbed a few toña’s, the local Nicaraguan beer, and tried our hand at karaoke. James couldn’t be more stoked to sing “Summer Nights” from Grease with me 🙂 but I’m unsure that the bouncers enjoyed Gary jumping off tables while basically screaming “Rollin, Rollin, Rollin” by Limp Biscuit. Off to a good start!
I caught a chicken bus the next morning up to Leon. I forgot how awesome it is to only pay 50 cordobas ($1.70 USD) for a 2+ hour bus ride! The elderly Nicaraguan man next to me bought me a water (so generous, as he was obviously extremely poverty stricken… I should have been the one to buy the waters! … I in turn bought him one before he got off the bus, but his act of kindness was one to remember). We chatted all about life, love, family, drugs, you name it. I also forgot how much I enjoy speaking Spanish, although I still have so much more to learn!
I reached my destination and spent the afternoon running through the city, tasting yummy street food, people watching, and checking out the sites, my favorite being La Catedral de Leon. It was gorgeous cathedral with a beautiful interior, and an even prettier exterior, painted completely white.
I stayed at Trailwinds Hostel in Leon, which was quiet, but very clean and the staff was very accommodating! I randomly met up with my friend Victoria, who I met about a year ago at The Dominican Treehouse Village in the Dominican Republic (if you have a second, check this place out! http://dominicantreehousevillage.com/). The next day we hiked up Volcano Cerro Negro for some volcano boarding! Talk about a funny activity. We dressed in heavy denim suits, completed with plastic safety goggles and gloves (I missed the memo on bringing a bandana to cover my face, but made do with using my tank top). We sat down on what was basically just a plank of wood with sheet metal screwed to the bottom and a string tied through the front, resembling a toboggan. I wasn’t expecting to go very fast, but holy shit, we flew!! Rocks came over the front of the board, pelting us in the face as we screamed down the mountain. We didn’t go with the hostel that had a radar gun, but some travelers we met said they got going up to around 100kmh (close to 65mph), we were seriously flying!
After Leon, we made our way down to San Juan Del Sur! Met up with Dayne, and had a really fun night out! Probably too much fun… Especially with Sunday Funday starting so early the next day. Sunday Funday in San Juan Del Sur is some serious business! Every Sunday there is a massive pool/pub crawl. Hundreds of travelers hop from hostel pool to hostel pool, having the time of their lives. So much dancing, so many drinks, and insane amounts of smiles!
We took off for Popoyo after checking out the massive Jesus statue on top of the hill in San Juan Del Sur, so gorgeous!
The next few nights I stayed at 99 Surf Lodge on Playa Santana, right outside of Popoyo. This hostel was definitely a favorite! Beachfront property, infinity pool, air conditioning, and a short 5-minute walk to board rentals and super fun surf waves! Victoria paddled out for the first time ever and stood up on a wave! She crushed it! Also got to catch some waves with Dayne and Jeb who were in full force surf camp all week! We had one unreal sunset session, super slow waves that you could ride halfway across the bay, walking up and down the board! People were out surfing two on the same board, I hung 5 for the first time ever and the energy was all around unparalleled. Surfing is so fun, and I’m unbelievably obsessed with being in the water (a little sad sometimes that I don’t really like my water in frozen particles, aka snow, like the majority of my friends and family…. guess I’m the black sheep on this one). Even just thinking of that session a month later brings a smile to my face!
After Popoyo we cruised over to Ometepe Island. Talk about incredible! There’s no doubt in my mind that I will be back to visit this magical place. We stayed at El Zopilote, an Eco hostel built into the side of the Volcano Maderas. This hostel was seriously like Heaven and Narnia combined! Slack lining, aerial silks, 2 yoga sessions every day, a tattoo artist, massage and reiki healing, all organic home grown food (couldn’t get enough!!!). They had pizza nights and fire dancing, bonfires and game nights; I’m still wondering how I was able to leave!
One day we hiked the Volcano Maderas, which was definitely a challenge. It took us about 9 hours round trip. It was extremely muddy and slippery at the top, but hot and sunny as hell towards the bottom. It always hurts while you’re doing it but worth it after doing it right?
The next day we rented scooters and dirt bikes and had a crazy fun “biker gang” to cruise around the island with. We checked out Ojo de Agua, a beautiful spring/swimming hole. Ate lunch on Playa Santo Domingo, and messed around in Lake Nicaragua. It was a day full of amazing scenery, and even better company!
The next day Victoria talked me into horse back riding, and I only agreed because she put herself out of her comfort zone on this trip surfing and hiking. Sure enough, my horse decided it needed to cool off in Lake Nicaragua, out of nowhere, completely dumping me off of the front of it right into the water, with a bag full of stuff, haha. I don’t have the best luck with horses to say the least, but it was fun overall! We checked out Playa Pital, ate some of the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted and swung around from swings hanging in the trees! I happened to run into Anthony Alcalde, an AcroYoga teacher based in Nicaragua. We got to play a bit, it’s amazing to me how you can meet someone random and flow with them as if you’ve known them forever! It’s like a secret unspoken language. I can’t get enough!
As always, the trip came to an end, much sooner than I would have liked. Such is life. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to get away and recharge.
“One destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” -Henry Miller