The Corn Islands, Nicaragua

On April 10th we took a one hour flight from Managua to Big Corn Island to start the first four days of two weeks that we planned staying between Big Corn and Little Corn Islands.

Located in the South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region, Big Corn sits about 70 km east of the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua while Little Corn lies about 13 km northeast of Big Corn and is only accessible by boat.

We rented a small house on Big Corn located right across from South West Bay. It is owned by the owner of Frumunda Travel and sits next door to their travel operation so we had a huge blue canopy in our front hard with large lettering promoting Frumunda Travel. It was a litlle bit of an eye sore for us but it provided welcoming shade during the mid day sun.

We had a functional kitchen, two bedrooms both with air conditioning and a bathroom with a reasonable shower. It was a two minute walk to the beach and about a five minute walk to the nearest bar and restaurant so it was a great location. The area beside us was also used to serve breakfast for Marthas Bed and Breakfast located nearby so we took advantage of this and had a couple of good homemade breakfasts a couple of times and for only $6 USD per person it was a good deal.

The bay is made up of Pic-Nic-Beach and Arenas Beach which basically form one very long stretch of beautiful white sand beach fronting calm crystal clear water. The two boats in the pictures below were grounded as the result of a tropical storm formed by Hurricane Julia that hit Nicaragua in October 2022.

We arrived just after Semana Santa and a large stretch of undeveloped beachside had been transformed into a huge area of pop-up bars and food shacks. It was Monday, the last official day of celebrations and the remnants of one very big party laid scattered all over the place. The operators had two days to clean up. It looked impossible but by Wednesday there was no sign of anything having been there. We were told the partying starts one week before Semana Santa and lasts until Easter Monday and the beach was so packed it was like “bumper cars”. Hard to imagine because it seemed we were practically the only people on the beach when we hit the sand on Tuesday.

We had a hard time finding much for food to stock our kitchen so we made due with Cornflakes with a banana an orange and a drinkable yogurt for breakfast and for lunch peanut butter and banana sandwiches on white “Bimbo” bread and a shared can of Original V8 vegetable cocktail. Yummy!

Fortunately as mentioned earlier there were two restaurants close by so our dinners were substantially better. We could have had lunch at the restaurants but when you are hot and sweaty after some beach time you really don’t feel like walking in the 32 degree sun and heat to go and sit in the 30 degree shade and decide on lunch. We’d rather have peanut butter and banana sandwiches in the comfort of our air conditioned place and tell ourselves how much weight we’re going to lose.

Over the next four days we aquatinted ourselves primarily with whatever was within a 20 to 30 minute walk from our house. It was too hot to walk much more than that during the day and by nightfall, aside from being very dark on the narrow road that hugs the beach, we were too into enjoying the cold cervezas sitting at the beach side bar at Pic-Nic Beach being too blown away from the sunsets and amazing location to even bother of thinking about wandering somewhere else. Taxis are cheap here, $1 USD per person so we didn’t really have any excuses but why bother really. The grass isn’t, I mean the sand isn’t always whiter on the other side.

After four days on Big Corn we headed over to Little Corn Island and our driver Elvis, who picked us up to take us to our boat told us the resupply boats were expected over the next few days so the stores on Big Corn would be fully restocked when we would return later for five more days. He also mentioned that during the Holy Week celebrations although food was tight there were plenty of resupply boats loaded with beer. You can run out of food but it is never a good idea to run out of beer!

We hired a private boat to get us to Little Corn and on the way to the dock we asked about the sea conditions. Smooth sailing we were told. It’s important to know this because our experience boating between the San Blass Islands dictated that you bag your luggage in garbage bags and be prepared to get drenched so this was welcome news.

We met Captain Peter at the dock and asked once again about the sea conditions. Smooth sailing he said.

Within ten minutes of our departure to Little Corn we were in six foot swells crashing in the waves but because of boat design (I think it was a wider boat than the San Blass boats) we only suffered a little sea spray but it was a very rough journey. I don’t know why we were told it would be smooth if wasn’t going to be smooth. Maybe to allay any fears we may have had? Maybe the conditions changed quickly but it was anything but smooth.

Prior to our departure to Little Corn we had asked a couple of people about the sargassum (seaweed) situation on the islands. Being on the west/leeward side of Big Corn the beaches were protected but last year it was apparently very bad on both islands. On Little Corn we would be staying on the east/windward side so our fingers were crossed. This year has seen the largest ever sargassum patch ever and it stretches over 8,500 km from Africa to the east coasts of Mexico and Florida.

As we came around the north coast of LC the waves subsided and the waters displayed a brilliant hue of fifty shades of of azure colours. This was looking very inviting.

Our boat slowed, turned towards shore and then we saw it. Massive mounds of sargassum lined the pristine beach we were heading towards. The water became cloudy and our hearts sank. Several men were on the beach with pitch forks tossing the weeds into long piles. We hopped of the boat and then the smell hit us. Rotten eggs. Sewer. Pick your smell.

This was not what we had in mind and we immediately started to question if we should even bother staying. It was very upsetting to say the least.

We had booked five nights at Little Corn Beach and Bungalow, a highly rated establishment with the number one rated restaurant on the island, The Turned Turtle. The grounds were beautiful and the location was on a remote tropical beach on a remote tropical island in the Caribbean so we took a few deep breaths and decided to stay. We were told (and we could see on our way to our place) there were other beaches in the area that were less affected by the sea weed. It was just bad luck that their beach got hit so hard.

We paid for a food and drink package that gave us twenty meals over five days that included beer and soft drinks and juice etc. and a good discount on other drinks. They didn’t offer full board because they wanted to encourage their guests to explore other restaurants in the relative area which I think is a good thing because you can easily get caught up just hanging around all day eating and drinking in one place and miss out on some of the other good places.

The eating at our place was fantastic!

Lobster, which you could have for every meal if you wanted, seafood omelettes with lobster and shrimp, lobster tacos, grilled shrimp, baby back ribs, unbelievable cheese and bacon burger sliders or pulled pork, ham and bacon sliders. The list goes on and we certainly agree with the number one rating. All of the food was delicious and the cooking staff were wonderful ladies who obviously had a passion for the food they prepared.

The thick jungle like vegetation on the island is crisscrossed by sand and dirt paths, sometimes with narrow paved areas to help facilitate the movement of goods throughout the island.

There are no cars or motorized vehicles of any sort on the island so everything is moved under human power by either pulling two wheeled carts or pushing wheelbarrows for smaller loads so we used these paths to access the main town on the west side of the island and a couple of sargassum free beaches on the norther portion, Tracy Beach and Otto Beach. It was bloody hot hiking through the thick forests but we really did need the exercise and the beaches were pristine.

The accommodation and the food were excellent but what really made our five night stay at Little Corn Beach and Bungalows were the serving staff.

Shira, Sadie, Eric and Chi were outstanding and we left feeling like we had left some good friends behind.

The only negative aside from the seaweed was the restaurant/bar operating hours. Last call for dinner was 5:30 pm and last call for alcohol was 6:30.

Dinner felt rushed and if the restaurant wasn’t busy you could be eating dinner at 5:45 which is too early. And, if you wanted to have more beers past 6:30 you could take a few back to your bungalow but most didn’t have a refrigerator (we did) but drinking beer on a full stomach isn’t as enjoyable as drinking pre-dinner beer in my humble opinion.

We headed back (on much calmer waters) to Big Corn with visions of peanut butter and banana sandwiches for the next five days but looking forward to the most amazing water and sand awaiting our return.

Elvis picked us up again and we pit stopped at several small stores to try to load up on more than bananas. Some cheese slices, tomatoes, mayonnaise, Bimbo brown bread, and a good selection of fruit made up our haul. There were no good bananas to be found however Elvis promised us if he came across some good bananas he would pick some up and drop them by our place and lo and behold the next morning he stopped by with two bunches of bananas! What a great man. Seriously!

The last five days on Big Corn were essentially spent doing nothing but get up, have coffee, eat breakfast, wander to the beach, swim, sun, wander home, eat lunch, have a rest, wander to Pic-Nic Beach bar, drink, watch the amazing sunset, eat dinner, wander home, listen to some music and sleep. Perfect!

We did however interrupt our laziness one day with a three hour snorkelling/fishing boat trip around the island with Jesus who is the second in command at Frumunda travel and, the snorkelling was actually quite incredible.

The first stop was a reef where a Spanish Galleon sank in the sixteen hundreds (We think). The water visibility could be classified as almost limitless, probably about 30m and the depth was no more than 10m so visibility was excellent!

The waters were calm and the view below was amazing. Steel cannons encrusted with barnacles and coral littered the sea floor and off in the distance a huge anchor just like this ⚓️. Seriously. It was a very cool sight.

Our next stop was a 60 year old oil tanker that hit a reef on the east side of the island where tankers were not supposed to go. It caused an environmental disaster then, but 60 years later the site harbours an area that seems like a mini post nuclear city. Life everywhere within the ruins.

We departed Big Corn on April 24th for two more nights in Managua before heading to Mexico City for a few days before flying home.

We will definitely be back to the islands, hopefully sooner than later.

A pit stop in Managua then on to the Corn Islands

After two days at Mango Rosa we picked up our lazy butts and headed back to Managua to regroup before heading to the Corn Islands.

I mentioned earlier that we hooked up with a great guy named Lester who with his father in law operate Taxi Express Travel. A great guy and completely reliable. We arranged a ride back to Managua with Lester and bid him a heartfelt farewell when he dropped us off at our hotel.

Isla Ometepe to San Juan del Sur

We arrived into San Juan del Sur at about 1:00 pm after a 45 minute taxi ride from the ferry terminal in San Jorge. We were using Google maps to direct our driver to our destination and when we got close to our place for the next ten days, the gravel roads got quite bad. Not a good sign and were quite far away from town.

Oh boy, what have we gotten ourselves into?

Before we even got out of the taxi our anxiety levels were starting to peak. We are not close to anything. We are far away. We are not within walking distance to town. We are very upset!

We arrived in front of a concrete apartment style building and were met by the rep from the company that handles the rentals for the building.

This is not a good way to start what you think will be ten days of relaxation.

We were shown our “Luxury studio with all the trimmings” unit. Yes there is a pool but with only two wooden lounge chairs to be shared by how many people? Our queen size bed was a double. There were two plates and two two different sized bowls, several unmatched glasses and cups, a very small fridge. Any way. You get the picture. Not very functional. Fortunately it did have a coffee maker.

The unit was advertised as within walking distance to the town and bars and restaurants. The only accurate description was it was short walk to the beach, but nothing else! The walk to town via the beach was about 1/2 hour with a shallow narrow river crossing, when the tide was out! Otherwise it would have taken at least 45 minutes to walk along the road and cross a bridge over the river. Yes we could have taken a taxi (a huge initial problem trying to communicate in English until we found our savior Lester) and it was an $8.00 fare each way.

There were no reasonable grocery stores nearby and only one restaurant/bar.

Fortunately only a short walk from our place it was a very rustic local family owned spot that played great Latin American music, not too loud and had cold beer and pretty good food. We went to town once on our first night for dinner and drinks and once during the day to check out different accommodation. We ended up frequenting Lomita Pinita for the next four nights straight.

Lomita Pinita Bar y Restaurante. Our/my savior!

Before coming to Nicaragua Joyce joined a Facebook forum, Expats in Nicaragua, and it turned out to provide us with a wealth of information about travelling in Nicaragua from accommodation to restaurants to the best beaches etc.

We made it clear to the owners of our place that we were not happy with our place and it’s location. The owner dropped by and graciously offered to refund any days that we did not use if we found another place to stay. We were prepared to eat the cost and move on so his offer was greatly appreciated.

Now we needed to find a place in town or at least closer to town.

We composed a “woe is us”; FB post on the Expats in Nicaragua forum and the response was amazing! Over 120 suggestions poured in. We even had an offer of free accommodation on a farm south of Leon. Many of the responses looked good but two caught our eyes. Both in town and both close to the beach but just far enough away from the very loud party scene.

We took a taxi to town in the morning, only the second time as mentioned above, and checked out the first of our list of two places to look at.

Situated above Pane Nostro, a small Italian restaurant, we found what we were looking for. A huge spacious newly renovated apartment, this time really “with all the trimmings”. Quiet, three blocks to the south end of the beach with millions of bars and eateries, groceries nearby and a little less per night than our other “Luxury blah blah blah” place.

The owners, Tina and Adam are two really nice people from the states. With their partner Mauro they also own the restaurant down stairs and they made us completely at ease. It was a no brainer so we signed up for 17 nights! We’re still working on a pizza discount so we’ll keep you posted!

One of the first things we noticed, and it happened in the morning and afternoon, was what sounded like a a slightly deranged women calling out from the balcony next to us. We don’t have a balcony so we couldn’t confirm who was doing the yelling but it was fairly repetitive and we weren’t sure if it was in Spanish but sounded like it. “Buena”! Then “Hola” Then two words we weren’t sure of calling out. It sounded like she was trying to get someone’s attention. Quite strange.

On the second or third evening on our way back from a couple of cool ones we decided to have dinner at the restaurant and we were chatting with Adam and mentioned this strange lady calling out from the balcony. Did he know who she was? Yes indeed he did. It is the next door owner’s parrot! Apparently they have trained it to speak some words of Spanish and they certainly did a good job! Had us fooled!

When we arrived into San Juan del Sur we were just at the cusp of their windy season which precludes their rainy season which starts in May. And windy did it get! Unfortunately too windy to really enjoy any lounging beach time. It was a sandblast so we stuck to walking the beach mostly but we did go couple of other beaches north and south us.

Playa Hermosa

About 12 kms south of San Juan del Sur is Hermosa Beach. The access is paved for about 8 kms then you turn west onto a gravel road. The road had recently been graded and we were told it was in terrible shape before so we lucked out. Well, actually that’s a bit of a lie. We were going to go there on a Monday but Adam told us it was being graded so we postponed our journey until Wednesday hoping that it was in fact graded. The access road is next to impossible to travel in the rainy season due to a river that esses through the forest and intersects the road every 500 metres or so. A 4×4 is a must.

The beach is light gray and stretches about 2 kms and has views to Costa Rica. The beach and small resort that exists along a small section is privately owned and there is $4 CAD, (100 Cordoba) entrance fee at a gate along the road.

A couple of “Survivor” shows were filmed there and around the area in 2010/11. It is a beautiful beach but unfortunately the winds they were a blowing so the sand it was a blasting!

Playa Majagual

This is beautiful small beach nestled just north of Playa Maderas and it was sheltered from the howling winds that have been prevailing throughout the greater SJDS area. We went with the owners of our apartment in SJDS, Adam and Tina, along with Ben, a great guy from Britain who has been hanging out in NIC for the past several months. Thinking we were only going there for lunch we foolishly didn’t bring our bathing suits. It’s a beautiful location and we were even treated to seeing a young sloth in a nearby tree.

Before heading back to town we stopped at a hilltop resort named Hush for some great views of the Pacific, and another drink!

After getting back to town I went to Henry’s Iguana, a nice beachside bar for a couple of pops and farewells to the staff (I became a bit of a regular there) and then we ended the night with a very good fajita at Nachos and Tequila, a great little spot away from the chaos. The obligatory food shot;

Speaking of food shots we had the pleasurer of finding a great little deli in town. S.O.S. Deli. They make the best deli sub sandwiches in town by far. Joyce and I would sit in awe when it was busy watching the two ladies work in harmony preparing the orders whether for take out or eat in. I wish we had gotten their names. Another great thing was we could buy freshly sliced Black forest ham and cheddar cheese so this was an added bonus. A great place and we highly recommend them.

Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a very big deal in Latin America and this year runs from Sunday April 2nd to Saturday April 8th.

We knew about this and it was the reason why we left Mexico in early April last year because it is next to impossible to find accommodation during this time and this year was no different. We were “winging it “so nothing was planned in advance.

It has to be said that the people of Nicaragua, and I’m sure this is the same in most Latin American countries , like to have fun, play loud music and generally have a great time. There are little to no police hassles and the majority are on their best behavior. They have fun and it seems to me that they have more freedom than than we do in our over regulated “Woke” society in Canada. Sure shit happens and they don’t have the level of the services we take for granted (they have free health care and education) but they have a level of freedom that was lost long ago in our neck of the woods.

Fortunately we were able to keep our apartment in San Juan del Sur until April 6th and then snag a place a few kms north of here for the nights of April 6th and 7th before heading back to Managua on the 8th.

We had a great stay in San Juan del Sur and were fortunate to connect with Adam, Tina and Mauro who own Pane Nostro restaurant as well as the fantastic apartment above the restaurant that we rented for 17 nights. They are a great team and added to that was a great guy named Ben who was a bit of a fixture in the restaurant while we were there. We hope to see you again!

We left behind the crowds and chaos in SJDS on April 6th and headed a little north to Mango Rosa, a small resort with a few bungalows, a nice pool and bar/restaurant. Our pit stop for two nights before heading back to Managua. A great place to relax. The proprietor, “Captain Greg” is a great guy and ex surfer dude from Florida who developed this property and made it into a nice relaxing oasis away from the crowds. He also runs a business, Frumunda Travel for adventures in the Corn Islands. And so much more!

Good bye San Juan del Sur.

Next stop Managua and then on to the Corn Islands, Nicaragua for 14 days of Caribbean beach time!

Granada to Balgue, Isla Ometepe

Isla Ometepe is an island formed by two volcanos, Volcano Concepcion which is still active and Volcano Maderas. Maderas is the smaller of the two volcanos and has not been active in historical times and it’s crater contains a crater lake. The two are joined by a low isthmus to form one island. We were told it is the only island in the world with two volcanos but we couldn’t confirm this anywhere. What we did learn however is it is the largest island in the world in a fresh water lake.

Visiting Isla Ometepe is a little like going back into time. The ferry is very old but functionable and we were able to get a seat on the main deck but it does remind you of the photos you see where 500 people drown in a lake from a overcrowded ferry capsizing. The ferry wasn’t overcrowded and it was a nice crossing .

The island is lush and resembles many areas in Southeast Asia, hippies and all. There is a large expat community and everything from tantric healing to womb awaking is available. We really don’t know what womb awaking entails but it is available.

We stayed at El Bamboo jungle cabins and it was an amazing experience. Che, the owner, originally from Argentina purchased land and started a restaurant and then began building bungalows from local bamboo and recycled materials. What he ended up with are several very cool bungalows near and on the lakefront. He eventually closed his restaurant and turned it into his home and then continued building and now has, we think about six unique cabanas for very reasonable nightly rates.

Che is a wonderful man. He is so happy with his life, his little paradise as he calls it, and his two dogs, Joyce and Pedro. He hikes into the hills daily where he works with a co-op garden featuring organic coffee and other crops, tends his own garden with numerous herbs and fruit bearing trees and comes across as just the most down to earth guy you could meet. We envy him for his lifestyle and we are happy we met him. Hats off to you Che!

A short walk from our bamboo tree house in the forest was a really good restaurant, Cafe Campestre. We ate there every night. Great curries, all home made and other great options and very affordable beer! One litre bottle of very good, very cold Victoria Classic cost the equivalent of $3.60 CAD. A great deal!

We had two full days to explore the island so we decided to rent an ATV. The road on the western side of the island which essentially circles Maderas volcano is unpaved gravel and we saw many people with bandaged legs from wiping out on their small tired motorcycles so the ATV made sense. At $60 USD per day it was worth the added protection.

We spent several hours cruising the undeveloped unpaved eastern side on our first day and a couple hours driving a portion of the more developed western side.

The attraction of both drives was the different views we had of the two volcanos and the difference in the landscapes between the two sides. On about one half of the eastern/Maderas side, volcanic rocks ranging in size from a baseball to giant boulders were scattered all over while the other half and the western side had none. A neat indication of how, what would have been a huge explosive eruption, hurled these rocks into a specific direction.

It was a great experience staying in our “tree house bungalow”. We had an extremely comfortable bed with mosquito net, a small functional kitchen, a cold fridge, a stand alone fan, and a nice bathroom with hot water and good wifi. The days were very hot but the evenings did cool down a bit so with a little breeze off of the lake and the fan blowing on us it was comfortable for sleeping.

We were in a small rural community so there were roosters and chickens and pigs roaming about and there were packs of dogs. At all hours of the night we could hear the dogs barking in the distance. It seemed like a competition of who could bark the loudest and occasionally some of the local dogs would decide to join in and usually, just when the dogs stopped barking, the bloody roosters would start up. I guess if you lived there for any period of time you would get used to it but we still got a fairly good nights sleep regardless.

We had a really enjoyable time on the island and probably could have spent another couple of nights but three nights was good. On a side note, the cabana beside ours was occupied by Hubert, a really nice French Canadian who has lived there for two years!

We departed the island on March 15th and made our way to San Juan del Sur where we had a “Luxury Studio With All The Trimmings” waiting for us. We hope.

Managua to Granada

After about a one hour drive from Managua we arrived into Granada, a beautiful city boasting a rich Spanish colonial history.

The architecture and landmarks have survived repeated attacks occurring between 1665 and 1857 from Caribbean pirates that operated in Lake Nicaragua. They came via San Juan River which connects Lake Nicaragua to the Caribbean near the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border. The city was an important trading centre so it was a prime target for the likes of henry Morgan and William Walker.

Interestingly, because this river flows to the sea there are what are now fresh water bull sharks inhabiting the lake.

The city’s beautiful main plaza is tree filled and is dominated by the Cathedral of Granada, originally dating back to 1583. Just off of the main plaza is Calle la Calzada, a long pedestrian mall lined with great restaurants, bars shops and hotels.

The afternoon of our arrival we did something we’ve never done before. Lined along one side of the plaza were probably 15 horse drawn buggies. We were approached by a young man who spoke very good English and he offered us two options. A short 40 minute tour to some of the closer town highlights or a 1 1/2 hour full tour. We took the. 1 1/2 hour tour, hopped into the ornate carriage and off we went. It really was a nice way to see the city and landmarks and a little of the lake shore.

His name escapes me but he was a good salesman and he sold us on a boat tour to the Islets of Granada the next day and directed us to great restaurant to have lunch after the tour.

The islets of Granada are located in Lake Nicaragua southeast of town and comprise a group of 365 small islands scattered around the Asese peninsula. The islets were formed when the nearby Mombacho volcano blew much of it’s cone into the lake thousands of years ago creating an archipelago covered with vegetation and rich with bird life.

Many of the islands are privately owned by beer barons, ex presidents ( Carlos Alvarado Quesada of Costa Rica) and other business magnates and a few host small hotels that are for rent for very reasonable prices. Our boat guide showed us one island with nice accommodation for up to 10 people and it was listed for $200 USD for three nights!

Granada is a beautiful town and it was a very enjoyable three nights that we spent there. The food choices were excellent , the streets were clean and well maintained and the people were exceptionally welcoming and friendly.

When walking back to our hotel in the darkness the streets were deserted and we felt completely safe. A really nice town to visit.

Next stop, Isla Ometepe.


We booked four nights in Managua. We tend to book four nights when we enter a new country with no concrete plans because you really never know how quickly plans will come together. We needed four nights in San Jose because we ended up scrambling to find a rental car. In hind sight three nights in Managua would have been plenty but we put our time to good use.

The day after our arrival the first good use of our time was spent dodging traffic trying to cross major roadways while we attempted to get to the nearby Metrocentro shopping mall where I finally found a specific pair of Sketchers shoes that I had been looking for in several countries. My original pair were getting, shall we say, sketchy. I bought those shoes in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2017 so they definitely served me well.

Not far from our place were two good restaurants and a nice sports bar. It’s advertised as a sports bar because they had several large TV screens showing sports but it was for the most part a nice local place to have cheap drinks that was frequented by students from the local Universidad Centroamerica. After our afternoon snooze we wandered down to 2Que3 Sports Bar for a few pops and then headed over to the Asados Flor Maria for some really good roasted chicken and steak.

The picture above left is a drink called a Michelada. The drink is a Mexican drink and usually includes beer but we had a variation of this drink in Costa Rica where the alcohol in the drink was guaro, a cane liquor similar to vodka and was served in a shot glass. When we ordered the drink at the bar in Nicaragua we asked if it was a small drink and they replied yes so we assumed it would come in a shot glass. The drink is made with lime juice, tomato juice, assorted sauces and spices and chili peppers. The drinks were served to us in large glasses rimmed with assorted spices and about 2 ounces of a spicy tomato juice. We looked at each other a little surprised at the size of the glass and proceeded to sip the nectar through a straw and give the rim of the glass a little lick. This is different. Then I looked over at the bartender and saw him and several servers watching us intently. The bar tender then came over to our table and politely said, let me explain how this drink works. First, you pour your bottle of beer into the glass, mix it up a bit and then drink it. We had an embarrassing laugh and they had a good laugh.

On our second day in Managua we we spent much of the day exploring Plaza de la Revolucion which can be accessed by walking north on Avenida Bolivar, an electric tree lined avenue which essentially starts with a large image of a smiling of Hugo Chavez framed by two giant light trees. I guess Manuel Nortega and him were buddies.

A fairly short walk leads to Revolution Square or Plaza de Republica which comprises the National Palace of Culture which houses the National Museum also known as the Nacional de la Cultura, the Cathedral de Santiago (the Old Cathedral of Managua) and Casa de la Pueblos ( House of Peoples). The cathedral survived the 1931 earthquake but was heavily damaged by another earthquake in 1972 and was condemned but not demolished.

It was extremely hot outside as we stood in the middle of the square and we were the only people there. Alone. And then my bowels decided to act up on me. Joyce was being the photographer and I was hinting that maybe we should go to the museum sooner rather than later. No rush I said, but I was just being nice. I knew there would probably be a clean bathroom inside and so did my stomach. I was very patient.

We entered the museum, paid the entrance fee and I calmly asked, donde el bano? Just down the hall I was directed.

The bathrooms were really clean. I made my way into a stall, nice and clean. Just one problem. No toilet paper. What luck but there was a lady cleaning the bathroom so I asked, is there any toilet paper? No she replied. I made it very clear to her that toilet paper was very necessary for what I needed to do. Nope. I showed my displeasure and started to leave and then voila, she indicated that she had a small amount of tissue in her pocket. Not enought I exclaimed! I really need to go! Magically she came up with another wad of toilet paper. I thanked her profusely and continued on my mission. Whew!

The National Museum housed an extensive collection of old artifacts, and artworks. It’s paintings date from the pre-columbian period and houses a wide variety of ceramics and other artworks as well as work from renowned Nicaraguan artist Armando Morales and Leoncia Saenz.

On our final day of exploring we walked about 10 km in total in the hot blazing sun. Our first stop was the new Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, aka Zamboanga Cathedral. The cathedral was built to replace the Old Cathedral of Managua, known as Cathedral de Santiago which was irreparably damaged as mentioned in 1972. Heralded as an architectural wonder we were definitely not impressed. Sorry to say it resembled a bomb shelter more than a church and the surrounding gardens were littered with trash.

Our final stop before collapsing in the heat was a visit to the Sandino Monument, a 59 feet high steel statue that can be seen from many parts of Managua and is dedicated to Augusto Cesar Sandino, one of Nicaragua’s most famous revolutionaries. It sits atop a large hill and offers good views of the city and lake Managua.

We made it back to our place, relaxed, went out for dinner and then had nice stroll through the neighborhood.

We enjoyed our stay in Managua. It could have been a little shorter but we made the best of it. Next stop, the beautiful colonial town of Granada.

Next stop, Managua, Nicaragua.

We are not early morning people and the flights from San Jose to Managua had two schedules. Depart at 5:00 am and arrive in Managua at 8:15 am with one short stop or depart at 4:45 pm, stop over in San Salvador for four hours, fly 50 minutes and arrive in Managua at 10:45pm. Both require that you be at the airport 3 hours before departure. We were not going to be at SJO airport at 3:00 am so we chose the late afternoon flight. All in, from leaving our hotel in San Jose to arriving at our hotel in Managua was a total of 11 hours.

Total driving time from San Jose to Managua is 390 km. About 7 hours of driving. Hmmm.

We were really apprehensive during the taxi ride from the airport to our Hotel/B & B. The roads were very dark, cars slowed at red lights but didn’t always stop. When they did stop it was because there was police at the intersection. The further we drove the more we noticed the police presence. They were at most intersections, hidden behind trees or sitting slightly out of sight on a road curb. They just seemed to be lurking everywhere. And there were very few street lights so it made the whole experience kind of surreal, like a police state.

We pulled up to a wall with doors and barbed wire lining the top of the walls in what looked like dingy area in the darkness. Everywhere was dark so it was hard to discern what the area looked like. At first glance, it didn’t look good.

One of the doors opened and we were met by a very nice man named Rodrigo. We entered through the doors to a completely different scene.

Gardens and patio furniture and walkways. This definitely looked better than the outside and when we were shown our room, we were very happy. Lots of room, a small kitchen with fridge, two big beds if we so chose and lots of storage room and a quiet air conditioner.

It was past midnight when we arrived and as an added bonus, the bed and pillows were fantastic. Sweet dreams.