17As we drove through the dystopian industrial wasteland of New York/New Jersey to Newark Airport, the sun had not yet risen. At 5:30 am there was already traffic, and the ambient light mixed with the fog/steam/smog gave everything an oppressive, reddish glow. It was pretty grim. However, we were about to travel to another world!
After the New Year, Marty and I took a trip to Nicaragua. The first week of the trip we spent traveling with Marty’s sister, Sierra, and her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, Evaristo, is from San Ramon, Nicaragua, so she was down visiting with his family over the holidays. The second week of the trip was spent with my family for a family vacation. Two very different experiences with both groups!
After a direct flight from Newark, we landed in Costa Rica, in a tropical paradise, and instantly felt more optimistic about the state of the world. After making our way across the border, Marty and I met up with Sierra and Evaristo in the beach town San Juan Del Sur.
We grabbed some food and headed on the bus! Our plan was to go to Evaristo’s home town. There is a network of busses in the country that you can use to get around. As a public school alum, I felt right at home. They are US school busses from the 70s!
The busses are decked out in paint, with music blasting. I’m not sure how the busses all got there. Evaristo said some where used to bring down donations from the US doing the Contra War, which lasted until 1990.
Video taken out of the bus window, starting another leg of our trip.
It is not the fastest way to travel, but it was definitely an experience. The busses get pretty packed, and without Evaristo we would have no idea what bus to get on or what the heck was going on.
After traveling over night and switching busses 5 times, we arrived in San Ramon, a mountain village, surrounded by coffee co-ops and rainforest.
We got to meet Evaristo’s family, and they are the sweetest people!
We stayed with a host family down the street from Evaristo’s family home. Homes there are pretty basic, and many had outdoor kitchens. You sleep with a mosquito net. The living room is the front room of the house, and most people hang out there at night, with their door wide open, welcoming anyone walking by to stop in. There was no hot water, and the electricity is not guaranteed. It was very refreshing to live simply for a few days. It felt extremely rejuvenating to be waking up with sun, eating only fresh local food, and getting a lot of fresh air, especially after the holidays.
People there were so friendly, helpful and kind to us. Though my Spanish is atrocious (wrong tenses, incorrect verbs, using “mas o menos” as a catch all phrase to all questions…), through descriptive hand gestures and dramatic reenactments, communication was achieved!
The Nicaraguans were very encouraging, even with our poor language skills, and we felt very appreciative and humble.
Because its close to the equator, it always gets dark around 6 pm and the sun rises around 5:30/6 am. In San Ramon, things quiet down around 9pm. However, in the morning, shortly after 5:30 am, an unimaginable cacophony erupts made up of roosters crowing, birds singing, howler monkeys howling, children, people cooking, I don’t even know what else, buts its intense, and good luck sleeping.
We had an awesome time, and felt so fortunate to experience Evaristo’s hometown.
Besides hiking in the rainforest, exploring an old mining cave (not necessarily a “highlight” for me, but memorable), and chilling with the locals…
Evaristo proposed to Sierra!
We were soo surprised and so happy for them! Nicaragua wedding 2018?!?
After leaving San Ramon, we met up with my family who had just flown in! We had a great time the rest of the trip being tourists and enjoying each others company!