By Allie Almario


It’s late on Monday afternoon and before we head off for an hour massage given to us by blind men for only sixteen bucks – AN HOUR!!! – just wanted to let you know that we arrived here on Saturday afternoon and have been having just a fabulous time.

On our first day, we were picked up in Managua and driven an hour to Granada, an old colonial city that reminds me of Cuzco, Peru. Sans altitude and attitude. We checked into our lovely little hotel and wandered half a block to discover that we were literally just footsteps away from the main plaza, which was hosting a huge literary and music festival. It was hopping. I broke every rule in the book – I talked to strangers, ate freshly peeled mangos sliced and salted in plastic bags, walked around cobblestone streets that were unlit, etc. That night we ate at a pizza place that was fantastic.

Sunday we spent most of the day at the huge handicraft market, shopping for bargains, stopped at a volcanic crater lagoon, and ate tons of local food for about $5 each. That afternoon it rained, so we sat in the courtyard of the hotel and played cards, then had dinner at a vegetarian restaurant.

Today we had an early start and went kayaking in the lake for a few hours around the hundreds of islands that dot the lake. It was windy and quite a workout, but really beautiful. This afternoon, we drove an hour up boulder strewn dirt roads to the top of a volcano to a rainforest, where I shrieked and screamed and cried through seven zipline courses, throwing myself off the top of trees, zooming to another tree while howler monkeys and parakeets buzzed me. So we’re all tired and sore and ready for our one hour sixteen dollar massage by some blind men on the street corner spa.

Tomorrow we’re off on a two hour drive that leaves at 5 am to catch a one hour ferry to an island in the middle of a volcanic crater. We’re there for one night before returning to Managua and flying to the Corn Island for four days of seafood and snorkeling. Everyone’s having a great time and WISH YOU WERE HERE.

UPDATE: Now back from Nicaragua and enjoyed the last few days of relaxing beach time on Corn Island, a little gem of a Caribbean island which receives few American visitors. Though it has a long way to go until it reaches Costa Rica or Ecuador Rock Star Eco-Tourism status, Nicaragua’s rough edges has its advantages – quite inexpensive and few crowds.