Nicaragua: Your Next Lavish Latin American Destination
Nestled in the middle of Central America is an enchanting country filled with rain forests, volcanoes, white-sanded beaches, and colonial architecture. The local coffee is bold and revitalizing, the mountains are a shade of green so pure that you’d swear they were giant emeralds, and everywhere you turn, you are bound to be greeted with a genuine smile and an extended hand.
Its residents embrace the beauty of life, however humble, and survive largely off of their agricultural endeavors. It is also home to a wide variety of exotic animals, such as jaguars, tapirs, bats, anteaters, dolphins, and a plethora of monkey species.
But no, its national motto is not Pura Vida. I am not writing about Costa Rica here, but its much less showy next-door-neighbor, Nicaragua. While this country may be the second poorest in Latin America based on its GDP, in my opinion, it is by far one of the richest for many other reasons. Nicaragua is a country that has struggled with the imposition of imperialism, civil war, shocking unemployment rates, and extreme poverty.
Nonetheless, Nicaraguans, or nicoyas, are some of the warmest people you will meet in Latin America- and this is a bold statement. They smile with their eyes, speak to you with sincerity, laugh from their bellies, and, even if it’s not much, share with you what they have.
The month and a half I spent in Nicaragua changed my perspective on life, and this is no exaggeration. The majority of the time, I was in Managua volunteering at La Chureca, the city dump, while it still existed. This wasteland, with children as young as four rummaging through its garbage, overlooked the untainted serenity of Lake Managua, and the juxtaposition was heartbreaking.
It was here that I learned that happiness depends not on your possessions, but on your outlook. We become dissatisfied with our lives because we focus on what we lack, and forget to appreciate of what we do have. In Nicaragua, their joy largely comes from family, friends, a deep-seated religious faith, and a fervent love for their country.
With the strength of the dollar rising, there is no better time to visit Nicaragua than now. You can spoil yourself as much as you desire here, and you won’t have a panic attack looking at your bank account at the end of the trip. Learn about the Sandinista history in the old center of Managua, take a carriage ride and revel in Granada’s regal architecture, lounge on the beaches of San Juan del Sur, sail away and stand in awe of Ometepe’s volcanoes, zip-line through the canopy of Mambacho Volcano Nature Reserve, or board down the black sands of Cerro Negro.
No matter what you decide to do, savor the national cuisine, such as gallo pinto and fried plantains, and indulge in Flor de Cana, the local- and delicious- rum. For very few cordobas (the national currency), you will experience a finer side of life in nature and in the city. And, just perhaps, Nicaragua will show you a new appreciation for life, too.