It’s just another day at the local market in Granada, Nicaragua. Everything you can think of is for sale here, including, yes…Pig Heads! The Market serves as a one-stop shopping adventure that the locals depend on. It’s where you go to buy meat, fish, poultry, fruits, vegetables, bread, spices, candy, fresh baked goods, household items and supplies, and much, much more. No trip is complete without an experience at the local mercado (market). My husband and I go whenever we are visiting a foreign country as it gives you a dose of reality and may not always be for the feint of heart.
I visited Nicaragua with my family during the month of December. Weather was warm and somewhat humid during this time. It was during the “Purisima,” which is one of the uniquely Nicaraguan customs of the Christmas season. During this time (December 8th to be exact), it is a celebration of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary. Every night leading up to the big event, there is a different float that has been decorated by a different group and taken to the Cathedral at night in a very elaborate parade. I had never seen anything like it. They would celebrate her arrival and dedication to the cathedral with fireworks, music and treats for the kids.
Nicargua is a little known Gem in Central America. I am Italian and have visited Italy several times. No it was time for us to visit my husband’s roots. His family was born and raised in Nicaragua. He was the first of the 5 children to be born here in the United States. I didn’t know what to expect, as in my mind, Nicaragua was a third world country. I had heard plenty of stories and was anxious to see for myself what it was really like.
We began our trip in the capital city of Managua. I found a fabulous small boutique hotel that was tucked away in a residential neighborhood, walking distance to a wonderfully authentic Nicaraguan restaurant which had my husband feeling like he was back in his childhood days. The plate he is holding is called Vigaron, a popular street-food snack composed of boiled yucca, pork cracklings and spicy cabbage slaw. I must admit, it was quite tasty! Two nights here was more than enough. As the capital city, Mangua has that “city” feeling with lots of traffic, shopping malls, grafitti, office buildings and night clubs. I came I saw I moved on!
From Managua, we traveled to Granada, the old colonial city. The charm of this city warms your heart. They still use horse drawn carriages here. All of the buildings have a very colonial look, painted pastel colors and trimmed in white. Everyone gathers in the central plaza day and night. There’s plenty of cold drinks, food and activities for everyone. I fell in love with Granada in particular. The people were warm and friendly and I enjoyed the authentic Nicaraguan dishes there, particularly the Arroz Valenciana and the Nacatamales. My mouth is watering at the thought.
After spending 3 nights in Granada, we headed for San Juan Del Sur. All I could think of was the taste of the sumptuous lobster I would be feasting on for dinner. San Juan Del Sur reminded me of our version of Santa Cruz. Lots of hippie-type surfers roaming around dressed in board shorts or bathing suits. You certainly didn’t need much clothing to live there. After all, San Juan Del Sur is known as Nicaragua’s Surf City. That was evident as there are surf shops all over town. And can I just say, the sunsets are the most amazing you have ever seen. Oh and the Lobster…$15 USD and the best I ever had!
I hope to go back to Nicaragua again someday. I especially want to visit the Caribbean side – Corn Island and Little Corn Island. And of course no trip to Nicaragua is complete without yet another visit to beautiful Granada. I can certainly see why Nicaragua is listed as one of the Top 10 Places to Visit in 2015. According to the Huffington Post, you need to get there before everyone discovers it.
Journeys Created With Passion by Talavera Travel can create a custom itinerary to Nicaragua that will fit anyone’s budget. For additional information, contact us at: Linda@TalaveraTravel.com