An Expat Life: Nicaragua Blues and Ruse
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Fodor's Travel Guide....Nica-Style
Well, it's been awhile since I've had the time to post something significant around here. Indeed, I'll be hard pressed to top my last submission... It has been a joy to hear from all well-wishers, friends, and family. Catching up with all of you alone is a tall task. On top of all of this, we had company the last week. Seems that Mike was brave enough to journey to Nica-land.
Actually, it's not all that bad. He pointed out to me that my blogs often take on a somewhat negative tone, or mood, when describing the country in which we live. Hey folks, it's not that bad! I guess sarcasm doesn't translate all that well thru cyberspace. So, in an effort to remain more true to the esprit de corps of the upbeat Atkinson clan, I will attempt to be more positive. There, I said it.
So, in this spirit, I'll fill you in on some of the wonderful things that Nicaragua has to offer, geographical beauty....Shortly before his arrival, Mike made a rough outline of the things he'd like to accomplish during his brief visit. His list included: seeing monkeys, volcanoes, bat caves, beaches, attend a baseball game, and to hit a wiffle ball over our house (courtesy of my pitching of course). Let me just say that he was successful on all but one count.....He never saw the baseball game. (he managed to pick one of seemingly four weeks out of the whole year when there is no organized baseball!).
If you ever make it to Nicaragua, you must make all attempts to flee Managua immediately, if not sooner, and head straight to one of two locations....
Pochomil Pochomil and Mombacho National Park Mombacho
Well, we visited both. First, the beach...Really not anything special as far as beaches go, Pochomil is a popular destination with those looking to escape Managua. About 45 minutes away from the capital, it offers world-class resorts (Montelimar), as well as day-use proletariat facilities. As you might have suspected, we opted for the latter. Folks, it's just more interesting, viewing the world through an unfiltered lens. One of my travel mottos is, 'see what they don't want you to see.....' And that we did. Where else can you buy lobster tail, bull shark jaws, and a slush puppy, all in the same place. I must say, though, the place is a shell of its former self. Tourism has really tapered off here in the past few months. It makes me wonder how profound the Sandinistan turnover will be, in relation to foreign travel. We'll have to wait and see. For us, that meant more unspoiled beach for us, but it also meant more uninvited hawkers as well. So it goes....
As for Mombacho, we got to go up the steepest hill I've ever seen in my life. It reminded me of the Swiss incline trains that you see in the Alps, except Nicas run this thing (ok ok, I'll stop). Anyway, we got up the mountain without a hitch (sorry) and hiked a 'clouded rain forest', seeing a couple of monkeys, vines, and other accoutrements of jungle life. All in all, a well-run, interesting place to visit, only an 45 minutes west of Managua. 5 RR pts. out of 5. Most importantly, the climate is about 20 degrees cooler up there....a nice respite from the searing heat of Managua.
On to bat caves..... a couple of days later, we also went to Masaya Volcano, where a Spanish settler mistakenly (I think) claimed that he found the gates of hell. (depends on your perspective I guess) On the other side of the rim, we ventured into a volcanic cave, armed with flashlights, helmets, and a knowledgeable (and friendly) guide. He pointed out sacrificial sites, bats, and ....ahem, bat dung. So, we saw a lot of Nicaragua, all within an hour of the airport. Bats, bull sharks, and baseball.....This place actually makes for a good 'long weekend' getaway (just so long as you getaway in the end)
Oh yeah, Mike hit one over the house....I hung a breaking ball that never broke, and KABLAMMO! I hurt my neck, looking for it in the hot Nica sun.