24 Hours in Managua, the Most Idiosyncratic City in Americas

Nicaragua travel guides usually recommend visitors to skip the capital Managua and head straight to the picture-perfect Granada. After reading how bad Managua was, more than anything, it got me curious. So after a month in Nicaragua, and just before leaving the country, we spent our last day in the capital, exploring its revolutionary landmarks, empty squares and peculiar cathedrals. A city without a center (the downtown was erased in the 1972 earthquake), Managua is not an attractive or orderly urbanity. But what it lacks in looks, it makes up in sheer quirkiness.

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Meting People in Their Homes. Community-Based Tourism in Nicaraguan Highlands

After spending a day exploring Matagalpa, we wanted to get out of the city to see the country side of the Nicaraguan highlands. In San Ramón, a small municipality 12 kilometers from Matagalpa, a local agricultural cooperative UCA organizes community-based tours to nearby villages. That’s where we headed for the day.

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Matagalpa, Where We Meet Nicaraguan Revolutionary and 100-Year-Old Virgin

After a month in Granada, you start thinking that all of Nicaragua is hot, humid and happily slow-moving. All you need to change your mind is a weekend in Matagalpa. A two and a half hours drive from Granada north, and you are in a different country – one where spring subdued the summer, surrounding highlands are abound with cloud forests and coffee fincas planted by German immigrants in the 19th century still produce coffee. But before venturing into the mountains, we spent a day walking the city and making some unexpected discoveries.

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Catarina, Where Nicaragua’s Best Nacatamales Are Sold From Homes

Ever since we came to Nicaragua we heard about nacatamales, a traditional Nicaraguan dish of indigenous origin. But restaurants rarely serve it, as it’s considered a family weekend dish. So to get a taste we decided to go to Catarina, a small town not far from Granada, whose locals, as rumors would have it, sell homemade nacatamales right from their houses. Continue reading “Catarina, Where Nicaragua’s Best Nacatamales Are Sold From Homes”

Granada, Nicaragua – A City of Rocking Chairs, Open Doors and Fleeting Hopes

Granada is one of the emblematic cities of Central America. Lying on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, its rich colonial heritage, colorful houses and vestiges of Moorish architecture make for eye-catching views. But if you want to see its real self, you have to come out at sunset and step away from the center. When the day finally gives away and the evening brings a long-awaited respite from the humidity and the tropical heat, that’s when the streets fill up with locals. Continue reading “Granada, Nicaragua – A City of Rocking Chairs, Open Doors and Fleeting Hopes”

This Non-Profit Founded by Travelers Invests in Nicaraguan Children Living in Poverty

Dirt roads that swell after every rain. Houses that are hardly more than shacks made of slate. I’m in Pantanal, on the outskirts of Granada. Just a few kilometers from the center of Granada where tourists sip cocktails, Pantanal is a striking image of poverty in rural Nicaragua. Continue reading “This Non-Profit Founded by Travelers Invests in Nicaraguan Children Living in Poverty”

Los Ramos, A Tiny Island Village Balancing on the Edge of Active Volcano

“Please write about us!”, said Esperanza to me before we parted. “We don’t get many visitors. Maybe if someone reads about our village, they will come here”. More than a year after our visit to the tiny indigenous community of Los Ramos in Ometepe island, I still remember her words. It’s time I fulfilled the promise. Continue reading “Los Ramos, A Tiny Island Village Balancing on the Edge of Active Volcano”

Ometepe Island, The Jewel of Nicaragua

Sun scorching through the clouds, slow-moving boat, slow-moving time. Our ferry filled with napping locals transporting bags of groceries, and few tourists with backpacks, was making its way through the quiet waters of Lake Cocibolca on its way to Ometepe. Gazing at the volcano slowly appearing from the water, I was thinking about the strange hold the word “Nicaragua” has always had on me. Continue reading “Ometepe Island, The Jewel of Nicaragua”

Puebla, The Birthplace of Mole

So you have been in Mexico City for a while now, the weekend is getting closer, and you fancy a day trip out of the capital? Puebla is your answer. The fourth largest city in Mexico and the capital of the namesake state, Puebla is known throughout Mexico as the birthplace of mole, the ubiquitous Mexican sauce. Even If you aren’t moved by gastronomic discoveries, Puebla’s historic center,  declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is well worth a visit. Continue reading “Puebla, The Birthplace of Mole”

Why Traveling is Accidental and How it’s Similar to Having Children

While traveling for 2 years in Latin America, I remember being asked what is our goal. I could make something up, say, visit all the countries on the continent. But the truth is, there was no goal. You travel because there is something out there that is worth seeing yourself. Because there are people whose life you can’t imagine, unless you meet them. You travel because you are curious. But there is no purpose, there is no inherent meaning attached to it. Continue reading “Why Traveling is Accidental and How it’s Similar to Having Children”

Modern Architecture in Mexico City – 5 Buildings Not to Miss

Mexico City offers urban explorers an astonishing assortment of Aztec temples, cathedrals, Marxist murals and some of the best museums on the continent. So it’s easy to miss that the city also boasts some great examples of modern architecture – you just have to know where to look. So how about a quick tour? Continue reading “Modern Architecture in Mexico City – 5 Buildings Not to Miss”

Must See of Mexican Muralism: Tracking Mexico City’s Best Murals

After a week or two in Mexico City, you notice something unique about the city. It’s not the colonial architecture, which is monumental, but still similar to what you can see in Mérida or Guanajuato. It’s not the Aztec temples, which are spectacular, but the Maya temples of Yucatán already prepared you for the splendor of Mesoamerica. Rather it’s the number of seemingly mundane public and government buildings covered with intricate works of art. Continue reading “Must See of Mexican Muralism: Tracking Mexico City’s Best Murals”

After 18 Months on the Move in Latin America, The Disorientation Sets In

One weekend, about a month after coming to Lima, we took a taxi to the city center. Sitting in the front seat, I was looking out the window. One, two-floor houses with colorful facades and armatures springing from the roofs, always ready to accommodate another floor. Fences painted with the names of politicians running in upcoming or past elections.

Suddenly, I couldn’t recognize where I was. Continue reading “After 18 Months on the Move in Latin America, The Disorientation Sets In”