Festoon News

Nicaragua – Books, Colonial homes, Horses, and Beach Life

April 7th, 2017

PicMonkey Collage

A journey was what I was looking for.  I needed 1) a path not too well traveled, 2) safety for the family, 3) an opportunity to make a difference, and 4) something not too far.

Check, check, check and check – Nicaragua.  Once we honed in on a destination… the research and planning began.

The first thing I consider when making vacation plans are travel times. It’s true. Nothing like a bad flight or 30 hours of travel to ratchet up the body and feel like you got ran over by a truck. A red eye on Avianca Airlines (famous for those of you who have watched Narcos) was the fastest. 6 hours. SFO to El Salvador 5.5 hours, to another gate, hop on another plane, and then down to Granada in 40 min. (And being completely shameless, John, was able to save us over $200 for checking in our 200 lbs of books. Everyone loves helping out kids!)

And how did we end up with 200 lbs of books?!  Thanks to you!  The super giving Festoon community and my loving friends and family.  When I initially decided on Nicaragua,  I wanted to find out what we could do there to contribute to their community.  I wanted to do something, not just be another tourist. So, I connected with an international school in Granada, Nicaragua. I researched the school, their vision, and the curriculum. I thought it was a perfect match.

Next step for me was to setup a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for books for the school.  It was my first time using GoFundMe. I thought it was great. Our goal was $2,000 and thanks to friends, clients, family, and angels I’ve never met… we raised $3,100 for Books, Balls and Uno!

Getting the books delivered, before we were scheduled to leave, that was another story. This is where Amazon Prime came in. I’m not a lover of what Amazon Prime does to the environment and the loss of business to small businesses can be devastating… however, I thought this was a win/win. We ordered from small book stores and got the books within a week. The big name book retail sites were going to take 3 weeks! Who has 3 weeks to wait when there is a trip to plan?

Finally, we arrived in Granada and managed to find our Colonial House. This was our BIG splurge. Was it like the photos? Oh yes, but even better because it was in person!

What to do in Granada?
First stop for us was the International School. We arrived at 1:00 just after lunch. Greeted by kids, teachers and Beth the director. How does it feel to create an entire Spanish Library?  Amazing.  The smiles were beyond rewarding.  And our kids read to the first graders… in English of course!

Then we swam, ate, and toured our way through Granada!

  • Ziplining –  a must. They take great care of you. And, flying like superman is always a good time.
  • Horseback riding here is divine. The kids were able to have a real horseback lesson. They learned how to ride bareback, and no hands. Glad I didn’t see that. There are real horse people here. Beautiful
  • See live Masaya Volcano at night.
  • Zen Yoga –  I had great teachers. And, its right in town.
  • Our favorite beach – Escamequita- for 4 days. At night, during the day, playing….
  • Day Trip – San Juan Del Sur – a beach town that was dedicated to surfers and backpackers (one knows this because of the hostels on every block). Its about 20 miles north of Costa Rica! Its a 2 hour drive from Granada. Easy, freeway driving. Only a few cows to maneuver.
  • Eat in San Juan Del Sur – Choose the beautiful restaurant G & G. Where they served the most amazing risotto with lobster for 14.00. Or the Curry King where the German Chef truly takes pride in his food.

There is so much to do, I wish we had more time. One of the things we enjoyed the most is the people known as Nicas. They are warm, grateful, and excited to share what they know and have. They are truly a genuine lot.

And to answer all of your questions:

· Is it safe? YES! There is petty crime so don’t wear your best jewels and walk away from your phone (BTW don’t do that at home too)

· It seems so far! NO, its like going to Hawaii

· I don’t speak Spanish! So, smile a lot, and the Nica’s will keep talking at you in Spanish till you figure it out.

Just go, now, soon, before everyone else does. I’m going back in July. Join me then.


P.S. I wouldn’t recommend the places we rented… however, I do recommend this gem of a spot – Yassers place. Tell him John and Melissa sent you!



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