2. marras, 2017

Love, peace and life in Nicaragua

“Amor, paz, y vida” love, peace and life! I can’t resist this rather inviting catchphrase, painted on a back of a seat at the harbour in San Jorge. I take a seat and look around me for a moment. A gentle breeze from the vast lake Nicaragua cools me down nicely as I try to catch a first impression of our new country of travel, Nicaragua. The first thing that catches my eye is a row of flags. Instead of one, two very different flags seem to be used side by side. The official, blue and white flag of the republic boasts a volcano, while the contrasting red and black Sandinista flag serves as a reminder of the country’s dramatic recent history. The war between the Sandinistas and the Contras went on for years, and only ended in the 90’s. Although people representing opposing political views now live in peace with one another, not all wounds have yet been healed.

Before we know it we’re driving up a steep ramp onto the deck of a boat called “Che Quevara” and begin the hour and a half long journey to Ometepe Island. We know we’re nearly there once the silhouette of the still active volcano “Concepcion” appears in the horizon.. The people on Ometepe live a laidback, rural lifestyle. The vegetation by the roadside is being cleared by machetes and the oncoming traffic consists of mainly traditional, horse powered wooden carriages. There are people sat on their porches and lounging in hammocks. The tiny yards are also home to livestock. No one seems to be in a rush, and everyone is smiling. As we make our way up the path on foot amidst green, tropical nature, we take some breaks to take photos of beautiful, blue winged, white-throated magpie-jays and listen to the loud boasting of howler monkeys. We don’t see any bull sharks during our dip in the lake, but we’re aware that they are still present in the deeps of the lake.

Over the next ten days, our guide Petri briefs us on Nicaragua’s fascinating history and colourful culture. It’s such a luxury for us to receive expert knowledge on these things in our native language! The beautiful, colonial cities of Granada and Leon are sure to impress anyone with their narrow streets, awesome cathedrals and colourful art galleries. Visits to a rum- and a cigar factory bring a bit of fun and convince us of the high standard of quality in Nicaragua. Culinary delights in lovely restaurants are just what we need to relax after busy days of sight seeing, and they’re not too harsh on the wallet either. I have no trouble understanding why people fall in love with Nicaragua, especially after experience the chance to peek inside the steaming crater of volcano “Masaya” and watching the bright blue surface of crater lake “Apoyo” from the Santa Catarina viewpoint.
I can only repeat the words of the famous Nicaraguan poet, Ruben Dario; “Leon for me today is like Paris or Rome”