On New Year’s Eve at the airport, after busing in from León, I bid farewell to my parents, who had been in Nicaragua since December 17, and picked up my friends, a grand ‘ole party of six:
- My best friend, Eric
- His wife and also a great friend of mine, Elizabeth
- Eric’s sister, the wonderful Annie
- Annie’s friend and also a wonderful person in her own right, Molly
- Eric’s spectacularly skilled amateur travel agent mother, Babette
- Eric’s incredibly generous father, Gary
I was overcome with joy when I saw them at the airport. Our destination was the beach resort Aqua, down in Rivas on Playa Gigante, Tola. On our way down we stopped at Volcan Masaya, the Catarina mirador over Laguna de Apoyo, and San Juan de Oriente.
I am glad to announce that they absolutely loved San Juan de Oriente. I took them to the studio of Alfredo, a local artisan and friend of mine. He gave them an explanation of his works and inspirations, and they were so inspired everyone wound up purchasing one of his excellent pieces. Here are two pictures of his pre-Columbian pottery replicas:
After nightfall we arrived at Aqua for a New Years’ celebration. After dinner there were fireworks on the beach and we burned a Viejo, which is basically a scarecrow packed with firecrackers and plantains and then doused in lighter fluid and lit up. It is an out with the old, in with the new sort of thing. That night a female sea turtle also crawled up on to the beach, laid her eggs, and then headed back out to sea. It was cool to see, and she was really big!
Our time at the resort was filled with beach and swimming, snorkeling, sea kayaking, group yoga, massages, sport fishing, and a hike up the Giant’s Foot. I caught a small mackerel while we were fishing, and we had it for dinner that night. Gary and Eric also caught black tuna (who joined my mackerel as dinner).
The Giant’s Foot is the natural cliff formation that gives Gigante its name, and it was very nice to hike and gaze out upon the resort and the sea. The seaside to me looked a lot like the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, and the Giant’s Foot reminded me of the ruined statue on the Island in Lost that is now just a giant foot and ankle.
One night we also went to the nearby Mukul resort for dinner. Mukul is the resort of Nicaraguan billionaire-mogul Carlos Pellas and is his own personal baby/creation (so much so that it all guests receive complimentary Flor de Caña, his family’s rum brand, and there is a giant picture of his parents at their wedding on the wall of a dining room). However, this $250 million resort is far from tacky. There is an enormous palapa adorned with a wicker-lamp boat that really impressed me. The palaperos were brought in from Mexico to construct the natural-wood structure.
The architecture, interior design, and golf course were all designed by foreign firms, but 95% of the adornments and decorations were sourced from Nicaragua. Apparently the designer spent two months traveling the country for inspiration.
On December 4th it was time for my vacation to come to an end. We woke up at 3:45 AM and headed right for the airport, where I said my farewells and made my lonesome way back to León, where I still remain.