Hi Guys, I figure I’ll give you little introduction for those of you who don’t know me personally =) My name is Katie. I am lover or life. I am a Yogini, both a practitioner of Yogic lifestyle as well as an instructor of yoga and peace practices.
Loosely translated, Yoga in its literal meaning from Sanskrit is “yoke”, which means, joined, connected, or unified. This idea of unity, is one of the main principles that drives my life. I believe we are one, one humanity, we are all the same despite religion, skin color, or physical demographic. In this belief I am guided to choose love over fear over and over and over again. I am a human being, and so are you, and this sameness unifies us far more than any perceived separateness. I have found in this inclusion of all beings (trees, plants, fishes, etc,) it becomes easy to love. In addition to my yoga practice and the beautiful tools & philosophies of love and harmony it continues to teach me, travel and the eye opening, humbling, widening of perspective that I receive from my experiences abroad are another of the greatest teachers. Travel, for me is a source of inspiration, knowledge and joy. Travel is a place to nurture my adventuresome spirit and grow to believe in myself. Finally I love the ocean, and this magic mother Earth. This planet that we live on is the greatest nurturer and teacher of all. We can learn all things from her, as I believe are are her. We are stardust. Little insignificant moments in time, trying to make the best of this human experience.
Now with all that being said, let’s head back to my recent trip to Nicaragua. I feel this wonderful country to partly be a second home to me, and one day in the near future I will be lucky enough to call it home. I own property there and am in the beginning stages of building a dream, Surf House Nicaragua. This space will be eco, bohemian surf and yoga bungalows. It will be an extension of my heart and soul, a place where people can come and share in my joys, feel loved, and cared for. It will be a space to heal and play and be inspired and fill your cup with goodness of life. I’m excited to be a part of the community in Asseradores. I love the people and the land and the waves of Nicaragua. I also really LOVE to surf. Like as much as I love to breathe. The ocean is my first home. About a year about I had a gnarly fall, blew out my knee, snapped and displaced both bones in my arm and smashed all the cartilage in my wrist. The accident resulted in two major surgeries and I am still healing my knee. I’m in physical therapy (which is amazing) twice a week, and although it’s continually getting better I am still a few months away from what will be considered physically 100% (the mental aspect of this healing process I will save for another day.) Any who, typically my journeys to Central America, or anywhere, are wave focused, in a healthy body. SO this most recent trip was a challenge for me to find these same joys, by doing new things, in a place where I’ve always done the same things. Challenge accepted. This last trip, although wonderful, was not nearly as exciting or “soul fulfilling” as the ones previous. But I’ learning that’s sometimes what life is all about. Taking the moments that aren’t drenched in sparkles and finding the spots where they shine. The trip however was exactly what it needed to be, a learning experience full of smiles and fun. This blog is mostly about that. The places I visited, and perhaps a bit of tourism plug, in the sense that I want people to know how absolutely fantastic I find Nicaragua to be despite what our government says.
Here it goes.
The land of 1000 smiles. People there are so friendly, and so kind, and in many of the communities I visited have a genuine interest in taking care of one another. Just about everywhere I went I found myself greeted with smiles and waves, from the Abuelo sitting a chair in front of his house, to the playful curious children dancing and laughing in the street. I was hard pressed to pass anyone with out some kind of genuine greeting.
Last year beginning in April 2018, Nicaragua did experience conflict and violence that lasted for several months, and although during these times parts of the country were unsafe due to riots and roadblocks, the conflict in general was different than what we saw on tv, and certainly no a civil war. The conflict was a result of the people, mostly university students, coming to a peaceful protest in the streets. They were protesting for their basic human rights, social security rights, and rights to be respected by their government. The violence that resulted was armed militias and the military attempting to silence thousands of citizens who were standing up for their democratic right. During the time of these conflicts, there was indeed horrific violence but these things currently have passed. And the people, for the most part, (with the exceptions of over fifty thousand who are no longer employed by the tourism industry) return to daily life with hope for a fair election and future. Unfortunately, many of the institutions built around tourism’s and job creating industries lay dormant. Non of this however stops the people from smiling and greeting you as you pass in the street. In my opinion, and statistics may agree, Nicaragua is no more of a dangerous place than the wrong part of LA or NewYork on a late night.
It’s unfortunate that we have government policies in place that continue to lead people to believe it is a dangerous place to visit.
After my most recent trip it’s become apparent that the country is safe as ever and we can and should return, to surf waves, go on tours, enjoy the majestic abundant natural resources and provide well deserving people with means of economy.
I started my my most recent journey in Costa Rica enjoying friends and the Pura Vida vibe. What a wonderful life to have so many places to call home, and people to wrap you up in love. That’s one of the most magic parts about travel, as you move about the planet, widen your circle, and weave more webs, the connections and friendships we make don’t ever go away, they just expand.
After my love fest in lush Costa Rica its off to Nicaragua I go, as usual I had a smooth border crossing. When crossing, remember you have to play to play and visit the ticket office for an $8 or so exit fee, then you walk. I stood in line for maybe 10 minutes, had my passport stamped and passed through the gate. Once in Nicaragua, my driver picked me up and the border and we were off! Depending on your budget and how you like to travel, their public bus system, though slow, hot, sticky and crowded is an option. The ride is always long than expected, but the bus terminals are vibrant and bursting with sights and sounds. I have used this option in the past, and it is a lovely cultural adventure. Lately however, finances allowing, I’ve opted for rental cars, which are quite affordable, or drivers. Drivers being the most expensive option, but if you are on a long one way adventure or you are headed to a specific destination I’d highly recommend finding a trust worthy company. I love cruising in the safety and comfort of a nice vehicle. Driving through the beautiful country side as a passenger, taking in the massive volcanos and rolling hills, maybe even sipping on, as my friend Chung loves to say a “super toña fria”, (a really cold beer) is not a bad way to move about.
Once in Nicaragua, I first stopped at the central coast, Puerto Sandino, specifically La Barra Surf Resort. I know many people opt for the party vibes of San Juan Del Surf, and the tropical hills or Maderas Village. I have been here several times, and to the Popoyo area as well, and those places, as different in what they have to offer are, do not speak to me as much as the Central to North Part of Nicaragua. Popoyo, Santana and Colorado’s are also popular tourist destinations ,the waves heavy barreling beach breaks, and perfect for some. In these places there is more to do and definitely more of a “touristy” vibes, which is rad and exactly what some people are in search of, I’m just not one of those people. As I travel I often seek out more secluded or less “touched” communities. The picturesque cliffs, of Puerto Sandino, that at times evoke the mystique of Baja that so many of us southern Californias have come to love, alway offer me the most profound heart opening space, and the greatest uncrowded waves. The town of Miramar is quaint a fishing village. One road runs through town and an afternoon adventures finds muddy pigs, roosters and turkeys, as well as friendly children roaming the streets. Many of the houses and structures that line the street, also sit on the shoreline. Some are abandoned and others have been nicely and recently renovated to beautiful homes with a million dollar view. There are several pathways where the fisherman roll out their boats to the ocean, and if you wander just 50 feet west down one of these you find yourself greeted by vast, sprawling, majestic black sand beaches. Everyday to the movement of sunrise and set, the fisherman navigate the breaking waves to head our for their nightly fish, and return when the sun returns early in the morning hours. They provide money and food, for their families and the community. It is powerful & humbling to watch these men, maneuver the oceans coasts with such patience and mastery.
Now if your hunting waves, there are a few options for surf accommodations perched along these pristine tropical cliffs, but in my humble option, La Barra Surf Camp is unarguably the best. MiraMar Surf camp, owned and operated by a few Brazilians has a variety of rates, and sits on the main point at MiraMar. PSSR sits a little further south down the beach and provides cozy accommodations in front of a rampy beach break. Sirena surf lodge, is absolutely the best option for travelers seeking killer waves but on a budget.
This leads us back to La Barra Surf Resort. Their rooms and property, recently remodeled, are impeccable. Their location offers a breathtaking view of three (+) of the main waves here. You can stand next to the sparkly pool, or in their air conditioned bar, or under a palapa, and see the rights peeling of the newly constructed jetty, the point at miramar, the sexy playful left of chicken bowls, as well as the beach break to the south. Typically being considered the land of the lefts, this newly constructed jetty to the north offers and right that barrels with uniformity just like the rest of the waves in this area. La Barra’s property actually peeks right into the barrel of the perfect peeling wave of chicken bowls. One of my favorite waves here. It is epic, to sit cliff side and watch the tide change, the wave start to turn on, and if you’re surfed out, or enjoying rum or margarita land, you can to relax, into bliss and with a birds eye view watch your friends get shacked over and over again. Or you can grab your board and go out there and join them! There is also a river mouth that pumps waves that is about a 5 minute boat ride away. Having the choice is what makes it so extra great. Here, at La Barra Surf Resort, you are treated like a queen or king. No need ever goes unmet, they offer tours of Leon, fishing adventures and service second to none. I always leave here feeling stoked and can’t wait to return. There is something to be said about the way people make you feel and the energy Alonso and his crew provide is absolutely wonderful.
It’s always time well spent at La Barra and then time to move on. North, sleepy villages, secluded beaches, and empty lineups are calling my name. A girlfriend of mine has flown in from Cali, we say our goodbyes to the crew at La Barra, hop in the car – and on the road we go. The skies darken, and being rainy season we are greated by massive, juicy tropical rain drops, slapping the windows with a beautiful rhythmic song. Hot rain showers have a magical way of stirring me, and I’m so grateful to share this experience with my friend Kyla who is taking it all in for the first time. We stop at the gas station for the obligatory cold Toña, an ATM, and my personal favorite snack from this part of the world Sal y Limon plántanos.
After a quick 2 hours we are into area that has my heart Asseradores. It’s sweetly tucked by the beach about 30 minutes out side of the nearest city of Chinandega. The lush trees, endless rolling hills and vast farmlands are so beautiful. There is dynamic stillness about these agricultural driven farming towns. My eyes and spirit light up as we roll past rows and rows of Maracuya. Passion fruit!! Ah my mouth is salivating. Sugar cane’s stand tall and assertive and the pastures for grazing cows shine with the richest and most vibrant shades of green. Rainy season is alive.
For this trip North, we choose to stay at Chancletas. In the past I’ve stayed at a handful of other accommodations, but for this trip Chancletas seemed to be the best option. I’ve got 3 friends from costa rica and said girlfriend from Cali joining me. In addition to having an all inclusive resort style package, Chancletas rents out houses that have been built on their property. As far as location is concerned, if you are looking to charge out to the boom as much as possible and get tasty poundy barrels, Chancletas is the place for you. It is located directly on the beach in front of the main wave at The Boom. Having rented a house we were a few hundred yards walk from the beach, which wouldn’t have been SO bad, except we tagged Nicaragua right about the first week into rainy season and the misquotes were extra savage. Point being, bug spray =) I don’t love it, especially because I try to live as plastic free and natural as possible. I make my own bug spray out of Doterra Essential oils mixed with alcohol or an Avocado oil style base, and for me this works pretty well. The vibe at Chancletas is mellow, their staff is friendly but also relaxed. It’s a great place if you are looking for privacy or have a large group where you all want to be together, but still have your own space. If you choose the all inclusive package meals are provided, but we got a super sweet option of hiring a cook for the week! She was amazing. She cooked us three incredible meals a day and kept our house and rooms sparkly clean. She could prepare a fish with mastery of top chefs, and make a drool worthy chicken soup from scratch. We did have to bring our own food in from town which is about 30 minutes away so if you don’t plan on having a car, I’d recommend taking advantage of the all inclusive package that also provides transportation to and from the resort. Another great thing about surf trips, or trips in general, are photographs. If you are going to get the waves of your life definitely want pics. So again, the all inclusive package come with a photographer, but we hired, and perhaps long term adopted a local photographer names Marvin. He’s a hard working humble dude who helped us find our way to boats, and waves, and happily and smiling joined us anywhere we wanted to go. You can find him on instagram @oviedo_marvin1790. ( Chancletas can be found @Chancletasbeachresort, La Barra @casa_la_barra_surf_resort, and me if you want more of my shenanigans @mermaid_gypsy_ )
Knowing surfing wasn’t going to be huge part of my trip, and having a healthy appetite for Nicaragua rum, as well as more cultural knowledge, (so I can, in turn, one day be the hostess with the most-ess int his area) I planned us a trip to Flor De Caña rum factory. Hehehe. Maybe one of my fave days of the adventure. The factory is Located in town called Chichigalpa. It’s about a 1.5 hour drive from Asseradores where Chancletas is, and a rad way to spend the day if the waves aren’t working. It’s modest $10 for entry and the tour lasts about 2 hours. You get to see the whole process of where rum comes from, how it is made, watch the barrels being pounded into form, smell the massive warehouse of rum in the fermentation process, and naturally no rum tour would be complete with a visit to the Family’s tasting room accompanied by a few samples of their finest rum. A really impressive part of this massive company, as one of the largest exporters of rum in the world, is the their dedication to environmental and social responsibility. Their commitment to recycling, producing as little waste as possible, and taking care of their community around them was a powerful take away form me. I also left with a bottle of rum and super geeky floppy beach hat, I can be a sucker for some gift shop finds. I also had the pleasure of catching my first proper wave in over 10 months with my girl Kyla Party waves and cheering for me the whole time. No matter where you go or what you do in life, outfit your self with a tribe of loving supportive people who are there for you in both the good times and bad. Kyla, sweet girl, I love you. Thank you for the endless laughter and kindness you have shared with me at home and abroad. I look forward to more adventures of every kind, and days sharing waves and stoke that linger long after the session ends. Not just in Nicaragua, but everywhere.
Although Nicaragua is a country with economic struggles, and to be blunt many are financially poor, the people are rich with spirit. The conflicts with the government over the last year really crippled their growing tourism economy. One special part about Northern Nicaragua is their massive emphasis on agriculture. I am a big fan of tourism and the way it can drive economy, but to see a part of this country, that is very self sufficient on the land and what its own natural resources can provide was both humbling and refreshing. Maybe it’s a selfish way of thinking, that my dollar, is not something they need, but I felt a bit relieved when my chauffeur told me that the people of the north were not hit as hard by the convict because their main source of industry and income is agriculture, not tourism. This is not to say the people of this country don’t face challenges many of us living privileged lives know anything about, but what is remarkable to me, is a general sense of nurturing and caring for one another, and an ability to laugh and smile regardless of life circumstance. This is another reason I find the North of Nicaragua SO beautiful. The generous, abundant spirit of the people and how the countryside is decorated by sprawling farm lands and pastures. Knowing that Nicaragua has been labeled as an unsafe place to visit I’d like to reiterate the comfort and enjoyment I had on my recent trip. In this current moment, moving through the country was easy and effortless, (they do have a major election in the end of 2020 that may possible cause shift in political climate). With that being said however, and the not happening for over a year, I would absolutely recommend Nicaragua as a safe and wonderful country to travel to, for surfing, for culture, for nature, or all of the above.
Love and Light from me to you, Namaste