Aventura Nueva Viene!

It seems like forever since the last trip abroad even though it’s been barely a year. Truth be told I get itchy feet almost immediately when arriving back home, the hyper-reality of short term jaunts abroad does give you a bit of a high. The last trip taken was to Panama and Colombia, both fantastic places to visit, both of which I’d return to. Almost everyone we met expressed shock that we hadn’t gone or weren’t going to Bocas Del Toro so I feel I have to put it on the list, and due to a super bad heat rash that kept me inside during the daytime for almost the entire visit to Cartagena I’m definitely going back there.

This year we’re going to Nicaragua. I didn’t really know very much about Nica until researching for our trip, I was a kid during the Iran Contra business and back then I was as interested in politics and foreign policy as I am now in the goings on of the Jersey Shore crew. Needless to say the 80’s are over and from all accounts Nicaragua is a budget friendly (and mostly safe) place to visit and I’m looking forward to the adventure. The reactions I get when telling people we’re going to Nicaragua range from “Oh yeah, my ex cousin’s brother went there and loved it” to the “Aren’t you guys afraid of getting kidnapped or something”.  I live in Richmond, VA which just 7 years ago was listed at the 5th most dangerous city in the US and the 12th most dangerous metropolitan area. Nicaragua has changed since the revolution and democracy in the 90’s and while it still may not be Disneyland suffice it to say I still occasionally hear gunshots and people get robbed in my neighborhood and I don’t even live in the “bad” section so… it can be sketchy anywhere and I’m looking forward to visiting Nicaragua to see what the truth on the ground is.

This will be the first trip to a third world country and the first where I haven’t tried to plan out every last detail. This trip could go really well or the loose planning method may not turn out to be such a hot idea, but as with any travel you never know until you go! I’ve only got the transport from the airport and our first three nights lodging booked. Due to the tight time restrictions we’re limited to 2-3 destinations. Currently selected are the Spanish colonial city of Granada, the Isla de Ometepe and the river town of El Castillo.  I imagine Granada will be a bit like Cartagena, Colombia architecturally however with that slightly rundown charm Central/South American cities have. I’m mostly excited about Isla De Ometepe however the river trip up to El Castillo looks really cool and it’s a decidedly less touristy place to soak up the real flavor of rural Nicaragua.

So what is there to do in Nicaragua? The city of Granada boasts some of the best preserved Spanish colonial architecture in the Americas, so I expect there will be quite a lot of wandering around the city, eating from street vendors and soaking in the sights.  With six main churches and the fort of La Polvora I expect to fill a couple days quite nicely. On Isla de Ometepe there’s hikes up the active volcano, kayaking, renting motorbikes or bicycles to explore the island with and taking time in to just relax at one of the hostel/bars on the lake. As for El Castillo, it looks like an extremely low key destination, probably the place to wind down the trip and take stock of life, the universe and everything. Getting there will definitely be most of the adventure so whether it’s by ferry, chicken bus, river boat, puddle jumper or combination of all you can be sure I’ll be writing about it.

Vamos!

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