The husband and I became afflicted with travel itch as soon as we realized it had been almost six months since our last Amazing Race Adventure through the Andes of Ecuador and Peru!
Caution: Travel Itch bouts are known to cause expensive, often contagious symptoms identified below:
- obsessive internet searches on travel destinations, packages and airfare deals
- booking of said hotels and airfare tickets, usually with a no return policy
- taking multiple vacation days off work
- dealing with inconvenient packing, airport security processes and uncomfortable plane rides just to get to said destination
- the inability to want to leave said destinations as vacation life can become quite addictive
- the desire to do it all again as soon as your plane lands home! (you wanderlusters know exactly what I'm talking about:)
Disclaimer: There really is no ointment for the itch - aside from giving in to your travel fantasies that is;)
Our travel itch was further fueled by the recent anniversary of our 3rd blessed year of marriage, and we became giddy with anticipation once we finalized our trip to the romantic destination of Nicaragua ! We rather enjoy our travel itch bouts, especially since they occur often. HA!
So let me tell you a little about our 6 day (including travel to and from) escapade to the Land of the Nicas. I will preface this account by mentioning that what I found most appealing about this country was its raw beauty. Its untouched, virgin landscapes. Its awe-inspiring volcanoes and that impressive Lake Nicaragua, which is the life source for so many beings, especially the natives themselves.
After a rather exhaustive red-eye flight departing JFK to Panama City and then a one-hour connect flight from Panama to Managua on COPA [which btw, we got for a steal at only $300 r/t], we were more than happy to arrive at our luxuriously stunning hotel - The Pelican Resort in San Juan del Sur.
This place went above and beyond my expectations, the husband really outdid himself when he booked it. [Yes folks, my hubby has become the only travel fiend, he's left me in the dust... but I digress] I had seen it on the website and read the favorable reviews but it took stepping into our hacienda style casita and looking out from the deck on that impressive view to be convinced. I was also surprised at the layout, the hotel was built around a naturally existing rainforest slope with a majestic panorama of the Pacific ocean...
The rooms were spectacular and if I could, I would transport that Turkish-bath inspired shower dome and double sink vanity with me on the plane! We also loved the three infinity pools, even if it took a 20+ minute walk uphill on stairs to get to them. All the stairs surrounding the resort were more than enough exercise to supplement the place not having a gym; it’s the price you pay for a view like the one we had. Albeit the Husband is thinking of writing them to suggest they install an escalator for the next time we visit. He said hiking Machu Picchu was more than enough stair climbing to last us a lifetime. HA!
After literally lounging by the pool for hours on end (it's quite the laborious task I tell ya;), we decided it was time to explore more of this rustic and tropical wonderland.
Therefore, one random morning we rose early in the AM and took an air-conditioned taxi (it was all about the comfort for the hubby on this trip, - he said he had had more than his fill of "roughing it" in our last trip:) to the port of San Jorge from where we took a one-hour ferry to the famed and exotic - Isla de Ometepe.
Aside from our humble abode at the Pelican, Ometepe was by far my favorite spot out of all the places we visited in Nica. With it's two iconic and prominent volcanoes- Concepcion and Maderas, also known as Volcan de Fuego y Volcan de Agua - and it's never-ending green pastures, effervescent rivers and quiet, good-natured people it was impossible not to get smitten. Picture Gilligan's island but instead of six stranded soles, there are 40,000 inhabitants. Instead of a little island off the coast of some random part of the ocean, this one is smack in the middle of the impressive Lake Nicaragua. Instead of lounging about all day trying to figure out how to get off the island, those that come to Ometepe wish to never leave. Tourism here, as in most of the country, is still in its infancy and things are almost twenty years "behind the time." The cushy commodities of our modern society are virtually non-existent and any type of advanced technology (as in broadband and high-speed) are still considered a luxury, but this is precisely why I found it so intriguing. So organic. So fertile. So green. So pure. So inviting...
Which is the perfect descriptive for this incredible naturally formed blue lagoon made from the subterranean volcanic waters of Maderas called Ojo de Agua. Inviting...
The island was also dotted by the most colorful and genuinely textural flora and fauna:
Not to mention some interesting artifacts and mischievous locals who have the ritual of diving off the ferry before it departs for the mainland...
We are definitely contemplating a return to this idyllic little isle, very soon we hope. (Did I mention that in addition to all the beauty it offers - this island, and the country of Nicaragua as a whole for that matter - is incredibly affordable to the American tourist? Imagine that, a place where our dollar still has some value!;)
We also made sure to visit the colonial and colorful town of Granada where we took a tour by boat around the private little islands that can be purchased to build your dream home on. We had interesting encounters with those of a "hairier" nature, and topped off the afternoon with a visit to the Masaya Artisan Market for some Nicaraguan artifacts of our own...
Overall we fell in-love with the country, and in-like with the culture. The Nicas are extremely polite and friendly enough, albeit definitely not as gregarious or as fun-loving (read: sociable) as other Latin cultures we've encountered, but after living in the D.R some years, perhaps I am biased:)
Enough of my long-windedness, let's get to what you really came here for - the pictures!
Disclaimer: There are quite a few to scroll through and you may need to click on a few to get the full picture as blogger cuts off the dimensions.
Till the next time the proverbial travel itch creeps up and bites us... ;)
Vaya Pues (as they say in Nica)