‘Tuanis Nicaragua’

January 2017

‘Tuanis’ the Nicaraguan word for really cool/awesome, was one of the first words I learned when I arrived, and personally it sums up all the wonderful adventures I went on while there. I had the unique opportunity to visit Nicaragua as the Travel Component to my Advanced Spanish class at St. Lawrence University.

Nicaragua is absolutely stunning, and incredibly diverse! Though I only saw a handful of cities, they were each very unique  in terms of climate, atmosphere, and geography. It is definitely essential to travel to several different regions in order to develop a true appreciation of the culture. I suggest breaking away from the busy tourist areas and simply walking the streets as the locals do. Whether you are looking for historical sites, sand between your toes, adrenaline rushes, natural rainforest, or a peaceful retreat in a hammock, Nicaragua has it all.   : ) 

During my senior year, Fall 2018-Spring 2019, I was determined to partake in an intensive research project as a Spanish Independent Study course with my esteemed Professor Dr. Steven White, and his wife, Professor Esthela Calderón. My research is titled ‘The Current Sociopolitical Crisis in Nicaragua & its Negative Effect on Tourism’ or La crisis sociopolítica actual en Nicaragua y su efecto negativo en el turismo.’  At the time, Nicaragua was being torn apart by their president and his military control. Thus, my research aimed to highlight just how that control disrupted the exponential tourism potential of Nicaragua as the next Costa Rica. I used the culmination of my personal experience as a before image to contrast the economic devastation that pursued, and contextualised both with personal interviews from Nicaraguan natives, newspaper articles, and statistics. 

–> The following is a translated excerpt, from Spanish to English, from my final research paper:

I recall being very anxious to embark on a 2 week trip to Nicaragua, but thinking about my trip excited both the student and the tourist in me. Nicaragua has soo much to offer through its ecotourism and educational experiences! During my flight, I thought a lot about how valuable a trip to Latin America would be for learning Spanish, especially by getting to know the tropical paradise of Nicaraguan culture directly.  

As my plane began landing, the views I saw were beyond impressive with volcanic crater lakes and rainforest as far as the eye could see. As I walked off the plane I was immediately greeted with potent sun rays that filled me with intense warmth. All around the Augusto Sandino Airport and along the two hour drive by car to León from Managua there were bustling people everywhere. On our way to León we stopped in the city of Naragote at a restaurant that resembled a drive-in movie theatre to eat some traditional Nicaraguan ‘quesillos’ [local cheeses] and ’tiste drink.’ 

The historical colonial streets of León were always filled with fresh fruit venders, locals, and friendly vibes whenever I walked to/from my host families house to my daily classes at the Dariana Spanish School. The academic program consisted of personalised Spanish classes by Nicaraguan natives and group instructed conferences by well known local historians. In the afternoons we went on group excursions. We visited the Rubén Darío Museum, the main cathedral, and the central markets of the city. All the colourful buildings and exotic plants make León a touristic gem. Additionally, we traveled to the invigorating mountains of Matagalpa to stay a night at the Selva Negra plantation farm. The combination of extensive jungles, chocolate production, and coffee growing processes everywhere made me feel as if I was inside an issue of National Geographic

In geographic terms, the trip consisted a circular route by staying with a host family in León, visiting the town of Poneloya on the Pacific coast, and visiting the cities of Managua, Matagalpa, and Masaya. During the days I often walked the streets of León feeling secure all the while. I did many unique touristic activities, such as volcano boarding down the side of Cerro Negro, an active volcano just outside of the city, and visiting Juan Venado Island by boat. From the tropical cultivations of Selva Negra to the sandy beaches of Poneloya to the natural marvel of the the great Cerro Negro volcano, one cannot go wrong with a visit to Nicaragua. }

Highlights from my trip and suggestions for yours : ) 

The off-the-grid Surfing Turtle Lodge & Resort, Poneloya, Nicaragua
A distant volcano I saw while landing in Managua
A church built during the original colonisation of the Nicaragua
Beach cabanas that I slept in while at the Surfing Turtle Resort
Looking out at the Pacific Ocean, Juan Venado Island, Poneloya
Rooftop view of the Cathedral in León
On top of Cerro Negro Volcano, León

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