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Out Globetrotters: Carlos Mayor in Nicaragua

Gay Nicaragua - Carlos Mayor - Out Globetrotter
Checking in with Out’s correspondents as they crisscross the world...

 

Who: Carlos Mayor, a Barcelona-based literary translator and journalist (www.CarlosMayor.com), February-March 2012.

Where I Went: Nicaragua, the biggest country in Central America, full of colorful and fascinating places with amazing natural beauty—colonial Granada, isolated white-sanded Playa Tamarindo, Ometepe island with its twin volcanoes, natural parks and reserves, and the charismatic little villages around Masaya.

Gay Nicaragua - Carlos Mayor - Out Globetrotter
Checking in with Out’s correspondents as they crisscross the world...

 

Who: Carlos Mayor, a Barcelona-based literary translator and journalist (www.CarlosMayor.com), February-March 2012.

Where I Went: Nicaragua, the biggest country in Central America, full of colorful and fascinating places with amazing natural beauty—colonial Granada, isolated white-sanded Playa Tamarindo, Ometepe island with its twin volcanoes, natural parks and reserves, and the charismatic little villages around Masaya.

What I Did: Explored food markets. Had shaves in old-fashioned barbershops. Came across bright local festivals. Discovered a charming side to the infamous, anarchic capital, Managua. Hiked through wet, dry, and cloud forests. Went up volcanoes. Swam in lagoons. Saw lots of wildlife, including turtles, crocodiles, sloths, monkeys, coatis, iguanas, scorpions, frogs, tarantulas and more birds than you can shake a stick at. 

What I Didn’t Do Twice: The 15-hour ferry trip across Lake Nicaragua to get to Río San Juan was grueling, so on the way back I skipped it and flew on a light La Costeña aircraft (www.LaCostena.com.ni), with the added bonus of amazing views over the lake, the islands, Granada and a surprisingly green Managua.

Where I Stayed: Hotel Spa (en.HotelSpaGranada.com) in the largest intact colonial mansion in Granada. Comfortable hostels in San Juan del Sur and a not-so-comfortable ‘retreat’ on Playa Maderas. I loved the charming Hotel Victoria in El Castillo (www.HotelVictoriaElCastillo.com/en), but my favorite was my hut by the water at Charco Verde (www.CharcoVerde.com.ni).

How I Got Around: By foot, by horse, by collective and individual taxis, by zip-line, by bike, by plane, ferries, by canoe and fishing boat, by tuk-tuk and collective pickup truck, by tricycle taxi, a three-wheeler and an old US school bus—all in the course of a month. 

What I Ate: Lots of fish. Lots of tropical fruit. Rice and beans, and beans and rice, in all combinations imaginable to man. Cajeta. Nacatamales (the Nica version of tamales). Shrimp and crabs in garlic butter. And the national snack, quesillo—soft cheese with pickled onions and sour cream wrapped in a corn tortilla and server in a see-through plastic bag (bite the corner and suck it out). 

What I Drank: Fruit juice (mango, banana, breadfruit, jocote, sapodilla, papaya, tamarind, passion fruit, coconut). Toña and Victoria, the local beers (especially Victoria). World-famous Flor de Caña rum.

What I Read: Salman Rushdie’s The Jaguar Smile, Sergio Ramírez’s collected short stories and Gioconda Belli’s The Inhabited Woman.

What I Didn’t Expect: I was lucky enough to arrive in Granada during the International Poetry Festival (www.FestivalPoesiaNicaragua.com), where Nobel-prize winner Derek Walcott read one night.

What I Loved: Cruising down the Río San Juan in the South of the country (on the border of Costa Rica) and visiting Indio Maíz, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve so rich in wildlife that it’s home to more species of trees, birds, and insects than the whole of Europe.

 

Popes a go-go

 

Yummy river shrimp in garlic butter and an ice-cold Toña

 

High water on Ometepe Island

 

A gorgeous yet highly poisonous Dendrobates Auratus by the Río San Juan

 


Hiking in the tropical forest at the Indio Maíz World Biosphere Reserve

 

Graffiti in Masaya

 


Market seller in Granada

 

A school bus gets a new lease on life. (Praise, Jesus!)

 


Mombacho Volcano Natural Reserve

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