Exploring the Hidden Culture of Nicaragua17 February, 2013
This is a guest article by Lucy on her adventures in Nicaragua.
Let the breeze of tropic Nicaraguan winds catch your face and clothes when you find yourself speeding down the slopes of a young volcano with feet firm on the ash-board. Set out on the adventure of a lifetime in the unique volcanic country of Central America. Prepare to be amazed and step into the hidden culture of Nicaragua.
The tropical country of Nicaragua is a hidden oasis of natural adventure. This small country holds some of the world’s most pristine beaches. Scuba diving is a must when you travel to a tropic zone, so be sure to head to Little Corn Island to experience these warm waters first-hand. Always check for a festival before traveling to Nicaragua, since the memories of celebration often make the journey all worth-while. Nicaragua is a great location for keeping your trip under budget. I highly recommend embarking on your own and the best way to explore this small country is on the back of a motorcycle. Rent a motorcycle to set out on an adventure you will never forget, and the cost is under 30 euro a day! But a trip to Nicaragua would not be complete without a chance to volcano board down the ash slopes of Cerro Negro. This young volcano is one among the 25 that exist in this active region of the world. Have a good laugh with this unusual form of entertainment. And don’t fear the board, since it’s okay to ground your bottom and use it as a sled.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jungle_boy/
The best of the old colonial towns in Nicaragua are both Leon and Granada, both once heavily influenced in economics and politics by rich colonial heritage. In Granada the oldest city in South America, you will find fantastic architecture remaining from Spanish colonization and stunning views of Lake Nicaragua from the coastline. These colorful streets and abundant architectural surprises make this city a charming place to stay. You will not want to miss the many museums, hidden courtyards and old churches of Granada. The grand cathedral in the main square is just one place to start. Stay the night in one of the historic buildings that have been converted into boutique hotels. The Tower at Iglesia de la Merced is an amazing location to capture the view of the skyline and Nicaraguan sunset.
Leon is much less traveled and appeals to the easy going individual with a family friendly atmosphere, though fun at the same time. I highly recommend this particular city for solo travelers and backpackers, alike! Within Leon exists the most magnificent church in town, the Iglesia de La Recolección. This stunning 18th Century church is decorated with swirling columns and Mexican-baroque flavor. Take the day to explore the city and don’t forget to include the baroque-style theater, abundant street markets and a delicious meal at one of the sidewalk cafes.
When in Nicaragua, the food is sure to surprise! The Nica food is an interesting spread with great specialties served at the Fritangas. These restaurants allow you to eat local dishes at a cheap price. I highly recommend stopping in to experience a world of new flavors. Nactamal is a traditional favorite, stuffed tamale which is wrapped and cooked in banana leaf. Common dishes also include sautéed plantains, Gallo Pinto made from rice and beans, and a variety of meat and fish dishes. Be sure to taste the authenticity of local flavor before heading to the heart of the city, the crowded market stalls. Here you will find beautiful handcrafted items. Mercado Municipal is one such market filled with colorful food stalls and beaded jewelry vendors.
Take a day trip to Masaya to hike the trails to complete your trip with a view of amazing Laguna de Apoyo. This crater was born when the volcano imploded and filled with water. Bring your camera and capture stunning views of Granada in the distance! Don’t hesitate to explore the volcanic land of Nicaragua!