Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Geoff and I had a fabulous time in Nicaragua! It is a breath-taking country, with friendly people and very affordable tourism options.

Since Geoff's visa was approved recently, we booked last-minute tickets for Thanksgiving to go to Nicaragua. We caught a good deal, and paid only $167/person for our round-trip flights on Copa Airline! And, thank goodness for the foresight to fly instead of taking the bus, because on our way back, we heard from other passengers at the airport that the Honduran borders had indeed been closed because of the elections. (Our friend Andrea had vaguely mentioned that as a possibility, but even she had not really believed it. I had decided to stand my ground and to refuse to take those chances, since I couldn't afford to be back to school late again after the Guatemalan shinanigans the last time we had undertaken a weekend getaway. Thus the decision to fly, despite it being the more expensive option...)

Anyway, Nicaragua was excellent. We spent one night in Leon and two nights in Granada. Both were colonial cities, but Granada has a more vibrant night life, a far richer history, and more character overall. While in Leon, we went "volcano-surfing", which is basically sliding down the sandy side of volcano Cerro Negro on a board made of wood and removable plastic. We hiked up to the top of the active volcano (it has erupted 23 times within the last 160 years) with our boards, walked along the rim of the crater to the sandy side of the volcano, put on our protective gear (jumpsuits and goggles), sat down on the boards facing the bottom of the hill, and then braced ourselves as we slid down the 45-degree incline. From the top of the hill, you can't see the bottom half of the hill, because the hill has a sharp dropoff after that halfway point. We could only see what appeared to be a tiny white speck at the bottom, which the tour guide explained was our truck, waiting for us at the bottom. The actual "surfing" part went rather quickly. Even though I was very nervous, once I started sliding and the wind started to blow tons of dirt in my face, I had forgotten all about the fear. Of course, I had to be the only person who actually lost balance and fell off my board halfway. :) Geoff took a video of me at the end, but that being after my fall, I had already lost most of my momentum and was easing my way down the rest of the hill. Still, it was an awesome experience! I would highly recommend it.

In Granada, Geoff and I also did a canopy tour, since neither of us had done it before. I was nervous, once again -- not because I didn't trust our tour guides. In fact, our tour guides lead about 150 people through their setup each day, and are very professional. Instead, I was nervous about messing up myself. In the end, it was amazing, and for being out there for about an hour, plus the rides to and from the beautifully lush forest, it was only $30 for each of us! That's an awesome deal!

Greg, Andrea, Geoff, and I also had a good time just hanging out at the local bars at night. I have developed a brand new appreciation for Flor de CaƱa, a type of Nicaraguan rum. :) I also particularly enjoyed the local "nacatamal", which is a tamale stuffed with juicy meat. Yum!

And now, happy December! I really cannot believe that Christmas is right around the corner. I cannot WAIT!

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