Managua, Nicaragua. The volcano in the background is a constant reminder of the unpredictability of life. The combination of men on horseback and others in Toyota Prados remind us of the inequality in an underdeveloped country. There is no doubt about the beauty of the place. Natural waterfalls, forests, pineapple fields, volcanoes, and cool springs are all within 100 miles of each other. I was a little hesitant at first about traveling to an underdeveloped country. The stories of kidnapping and Montezuma’s Revenge revolved in my head while I was preparing to travel. Finally reaching Nicaragua after a stop in El Salvador, I stepped out of the plane and realized that the world in Nicaragua was different than the one in the US, but the people were the same.
Nicaragua is often considered the ugly step sister of Costa Rica, being the neighbor of the vacation destination. The country has experienced volatile politics, in part due to the involvement of the United States government. From the Somoza dictatorship from the 1940s, to the Sandinista Movement, a hostile government environment has plagued the Latin American country. Nicaragua is also located in part of the Pacific Ring of volcanoes which puts thirteen volcanoes on the West Coast. There are so many volcanoes the country is known as “the country of lakes and volcanoes” in Spanish. It has the only brackish water lake with sharks. The lake used to be connected to the Pacific ocean which allowed the sharks to enter. After an earth quake and changes in ecology, the waterway closed up leaving the sharks inside. This country is rich ecologically, as well as historically.
My trip to Nicaragua began with a visit to one of the active volcanoes, Volcan Masaya. At this volcano I learned one of the Nicaraguan legends. There is a story that the Spanish settlers believed that the mouth of the volcano was the way to hell, with the smell of brimstone and the red lava being the fire and brimstone mentioned in the bible. They put a cross at the top to protect the land from the pit of hell. Another legend is that Somosa would throw political dissidents into the volcano so that they would disappear without a trace. The volcano is active, and one can see the lava at the bottom in some locations when the wind is just right and the smoke is light. It is interesting that they make the cars park facing downward in case the volcano may erupt, so the cars can go down the volcano quickly.
One of the best things about Nicaragua that’s not the ecological environment is the food. I was able to taste some of the delicacies of Nicaragua including a juice called Jamaica, which is made from certain flower petals, fish from Lake Managua, as well as some of the best homemade fried chicken I have ever eaten. Also, we ordered Nicaraguan pizza one night to try it. The cheese was different, and the sauce was thicker. It was interesting to eat pizza in a different country, noting the differences. Another difference is the size of the liters of cola. There one can buy, and usually does buy a three liter instead of a two liter coke. There are so many tropical fruits and flavors that are not available in the United States, while maintaining also the local McDonald’s, Tip-Top Chicken (KFC), and an italian restaurant.
All in all, Nicaragua is a beautiful country. The lifestyle there is laid back, family oriented and hard working. Unfortunately the inequality is shocking and upward mobility is difficult for the lowest of classes. The people are passionate, and the country is proud of where they are from. The indigenous roots are evident in some of the language, the faces, and customs of the people. The pacific coast is gorgeous at sunset, and the Atlantic coast, near the Caribbean, has pristine water. The scenery, the people, and the feeling of the country has left a lasting impact on my life.
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