Ivo had already heard about Nicaragua from surfing, a friend told him that Nicaragua was Costa Rica a few years ago. But since we hadn't been to Costa Rica either, we were two blank slates.
We arrived in León at night and stayed at the first place that came to mind. Not knowing the city, we also didn't want to risk sleeping on the street. We woke up in the morning and went for a walk around this city, with over a million inhabitants and known for its cathedral. We were in the main square, surrounded by schools, at lunchtime, enjoying life. We came across an overlander from Paraguay who had his van painted with the hands of his granddaughters. And we continued our journey to Managua.
We went to Nicaraguan television to talk about the project. We didn't linger as we didn't see anything very interesting to do and the surf beaches were waiting for us. And we headed south.
We stopped in Granada, another Nicaragua landmark. The city is smaller than León, but given its central location in the country, it is full of tourists. We looked for a place where we could stay in the car but that had internet so we could look for a wedding. We ended up at Casa Barcelona which, despite not being central, was a place where we felt very much at home. As they didn't have guests, they gave us a good price to stay in one of the rooms and we took advantage of it. We felt so good that we stayed for almost a week. We got unmarried, we looked for marriage and we were there to enjoy the house and the company of the ladies who work there. They loved Dune and didn't mind her barking or running. In Granada we visited the churches, saw what life was like in the square and enjoyed some local delicacies such as Gallo pinto - rice mixed with beans.
The day before we left we went to the Masaya volcano. This time we didn't have to walk for hours. A 4x4 took us to the top, and we can see what the trip promised: lava. It is even possible to look inside the volcano's crater.
The next day, in the morning, we set out towards the beaches and if until now the Nicas (the local abbreviation by which Nicaraguans are called) were already in our hearts for all the kindness and warmth with which they received us, the whole of Nicaragua would part of our favorite countries. We visited our first beach, practically deserted, with a small restaurant that served delicious food and good waves for surfing. From there we pass through Rivas, also this village right next to the lake and we can see the island of Ometepe.
But we went to San Juan del Sur for a meeting where they would arrange a marriage for us. In San Juan, we slept in the van but enjoyed the facilities at Hostal coconut. On the first day we ate there at a barbecue they organize: barbecue chicken, gallo pinto, fried plantain and a salad with cabbage. But then we walked to the village of San Juan and discovered so many beautiful and desirable places.
The village has a really calm and happy vibe. Full of surfers who either came to live here or are spending a season. There is no shortage of surf shops, and cafes from around the world opened by Argentines, Italians, Canadians, Spaniards.... Even on the beach, life extends to the sand, but here there are not so many waves to surf. However, the best beaches are not even 5kms away.
On Saturday, a cruise arrived which, although filling this small village with travelers with a different profile, never took away its charm. We set off on the mammoth to see the beaches: Hermosa was beautiful, with an extensive sand and for a moment we felt like we were in Ibiza with all the movement that the beach had; El coco was perfect, with no one and a truly magical sunset; and El Remanso, the one closest to us, was the junction of everything we were looking for: a quiet place, with an internet cafe, 5km away and with good waves. We went there 3 days to surf. And even I could have tried taking some surf lessons there, since despite the waves, the reality is that I was so short that I would have had my feet. The roads to reach the beaches are not the most accessible, you even have to go over rivers. But as it was not the rainy season, the path, although slow, was well done.
In the midst of all this it was a full moon night and with it hundreds of turtles came to Flores beach, these moments are called "arrivada". Flores is one of the 7 beaches in Central America where turtles come to lay their eggs. We took the opportunity to go there on Sunday and it was another one of those moments when we felt incredibly lucky. Turtles arrive at night, after 8pm. Most are over 50 years old. The beach is deserted, despite having some soldiers in charge of protecting them. With an extensive sand, it is easy to walk from one side to the other and see the turtles' tracks in the sand to find them. We can only go with flashlights or red cell phone lights, they put a filter on the light themselves. That way we don't bother the turtles. They see and with their tail dig a hole 50cm deep where they lay their eggs. After 50 days all baby turtles leave together towards the sea to increase their chances of survival.
We left Nicaragua only because we already had a wedding planned in Costa Rica and we didn't want to fail.