Sunday, March 28, 2010


This year, I had three consecutive spring breaks. I'm pretty sure Ortega will appoint me to some high-level tourism position any moment now.

Spring break #1: The Visit of the Deb!
Deb came to visit us on her break from law school. We showed off Matagalpa and went to Esteli and the beautiful Miraflor Reserve. Miraflor is made up of a handful of rural communities that coordinate tourism in the area. It's a great model of community-driven development. Deb and I stayed in a rustic cabin at Fuente de Vida, one of the lodging options in the community of El Cebollal. It was lush, relaxing and had great gallo pinto! Here are some photos from our walks:

Matapolo Tree:

Spring break #2: Sister!
Then Rosie flew in and we went straight to Playa Jiquilillo, in the Northwest corner of the country, near El Salvador. A remote and beautiful dark sand beach. We stayed at Rancho Tranquilo, which is run by a San Francisco hippy. We met an interesting assortment of folks: the owner's ex-Navy Seal boyfriend, the intern at the hostel who will long live on in my memory for declaring that the owner of the hostel (who clearly hated working) was "too capitalist," the ex-pat from Northern California who seemed to live on vast quantities of rum.

Path to the beach:

Rosie on the beach:

After a stop in Matagalpa, Rosie and I made our way to Ometepe on a long journey involving many buses, a ferry and one last terrible bus ride. I'm pretty sure Rosie wanted to kill me. But she suppressed this desire and we enjoyed our time in paradise. Ometepe is one of my favorite places in Nicaragua. Its landscape is shaped by two volcanoes, one pictured here in the view from our hotel:

We spent a lot of time on the beach which is often used as a road by bikes/motorcycles due to the fact that it is 100 times better than the actual road. Women doing laundry in the lake:

We walked to Ojo de Agua, a swimming hole, on our last day. It was about an hour and a half and very hot so by the time we arrived the water felt incredible. A picture of Rosie on the walk encountering a herd of animals she doesn't see very often on the Lower East Side.

Happy in the water!

Spring break #3: The Return of Betsy!
Nicaragua missed Betsy and craved her return. Please see the previous posts on our trip to Little Corn Island.

-Coco Bread
-Waking up to the sound of wind and waves
-Walking most of the island - there are no cars or roads, only footpaths
-Finding "our" beach, a particularly gorgeous one where we never saw anyone
-"Iron Man" challenge to get to dinner. One night we went to dinner on the opposite side of the island. Our shortcut turned out to be rather treacherous and I arrived soaking wet after some unanticipated swimming became necessary. It was worth it because dinner was such a special experience at Ensuenos, an especially remote hotel. Take an eccentric Spanish owner, add an eccentric Italian chef and a couple of blissful newlyweds as employees and you get the idea. Luckily on the return trip we found the path we should have taken all along and encountered many enormous land crabs.
-Snorkeling boat with one man wearing jean shorts and the other only one flipper. We saw nurse sharks and a sting ray but the jean shorts really stick in my mind. From now on I will only go swimming in them.
-Our miraculous fishing trip
-Hanging out with Becca and Anand!

Spring break is over now.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's a big one!

Lily shows off our biggest catch: a 23-pound kingfish!!! It was quite an exciting fish to land. And amazing eating too... This had to have been one of the most successful fishing expeditions in the lives of Lily, Betsy and Josh. We caught a whole bucket of fish, roughly two miles off the coast of Little Corn Island with Alfonso, our guide. In the late afternoon, as the sun was setting, Alfonso's wife cooked up our various catches in a variety of ways (grilled and fried). With rice, beans, tortillas and salsa we had a feast in the best hunter-gatherer fashion.

12-pound barracuda cuddles with the kingfish atop a stack of yellow-fin snappers (fryers!)

Aboard HMS Alfonso

Alfonso and Great Frigate
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Secluded Gem

Little Corn Island is a remote Caribbean island of 700 inhabitants off of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua. It is a full day's travel from Managua, via air, land and sea.

The destination is incredible. We encountered deserted beaches, clear waters, swaying palm trees, sharks, friendly locals and tourists, and much more...

Although there are no motorized vehicles on the island whatsoever, there are however a few speed bumps to restrain the speed of bikers and perhaps ... pedestrians. Welcome to Island Time.

Lily and Betsy meander along the windward shore of Little Corn.
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Escape to Little Corn Island

Betsy and Lily brandish their Costena Airlines boarding passes. It was 5:30am after an evening on the town in Managua. We were not necessarily in top condition. They show a very respectable level of energy for this hour.

On the other hand... Al contrario ... Josh does not appear to have the same level of energy aboard the Cessna Caravan on the way to the Caribbean.

Betsy has purchased a sold quantity of Pan de Coco for our snacking purposes! She acquired said bread after a treacherous run in the dark.

All of this in paradise.
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Friday, March 12, 2010

Xoco tasting session at Chocolopolis, Seattle

Josh and Lauren Adler, owner of Chocolopolis

Bean and bar tasting... Nicaraguan blend and Honduran Indio Rojo were big hits!

Atardecer en Jinotega

Sunset from the old highway to Jinotega...

One of your faithful correspondents...
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