In the short span of 3 days we managed to drive through and stay in the three major city destinations within Nicaragua. Granada, Managua, Leon. BAM.
Granada, although beautiful and with excellent 2×1 Mojitos (4 mojitos for $5 USD), was a bit seedy around the edges at night. The series of 4-5 hostels we toured before making a rough decision were also very disappointing. Our hostel didn’t have a single dish in the communal kitchen, had only clogged toilets, and its workers stayed up all night coked out and partying in the hostel making sure neither of us slept. Left them a really great review the next morning!
Hot Tip: Secure parking is available at the Bomberos (fire station). Roughly $2.5 USD per night, as a donation.
Despite the terrible sleep, we made a MAJOR discovery at the market the next morning. Nicaraguan smoked cheeses. After months of only Queso Blanco (bland country cheese) throughout Colombia and Central America, we probably ate 2 lbs of cheese in 24 hours. The texture is firm and bubbly like an areo bar. The flavor varies from gentle to extreme smokyness. 2 lbs of cheese cost us under $4 USD. The market in Granada is a great place to stock up on fruit, veg and cheese. This haul cost us under $10 (including cheese and a breakfast each).
Side note, eggs come rolling around loose in bags not cartons.
The Boom & Jiquilillo
Once again, second year in a row, our surf dreams went unfulfilled in Nicaragua. Another swell had come in, making what we imagine would be a perfect beach break into a body breaker. To be clear, they were beautiful barrels going off next to “The Boom”, but they were also 1-2meters. Which in our terms is still a bit problematic. The Boom itself was also just absolutely terrifying at that level. Brett attempted the smaller sets, but they were still extremely advanced waves and after a an hour or so time to go.
The limited and unsafe camping options compounded with the swell meant we traveled north to Jiquilillo to see if we could find something more manageable. However, that far North in Nicaragua also means little to no infrastructure for tourism or for locals. Signs started appearing stating “This bridge donated by Japan” or “Electric Grid developed by Canada”. The surf towns, being out of season, were also absolutely abandoned. Ghost towns.
Sigh. One day we will surf you Nica!
This is a city we can get behind! Beautiful colonial architecture without the same seedy feel we had in Granada. Hostel recommendation Hostel Guardabarranco, quiet and half the price of the rest on the same street. We could park right in front.
Hot Tip: semi secure parking available on the main hostel street (It has BigFoot Hostel, Via Via Etc). The businesses pay for a security guard to patrol at night. You can tip the guy to watch your car especially, negotiate price in advance as we were not told a tip was required until afterwards.
If you are ever in need of cheap, second hand clothing, Nicaragua apparently is the place. Literally tons of the stuff are shipped her from the states, some of which are still tagged and must have been sold for pennies on their original cost. In leon, the shops are literally everywhere and have excellent “names”.
The market here also has cheese. We ate more cheese.
Leon’s church game is on point. Each one better then the last.
During this period, we also used our time to really dig into border crossing research and the best plan of attack for Honduras & El Salvador, countries which put fears into the hearts of our mothers.
Brett’s not scurred’