My first trip of 2012 involved a speaking engagement to my 121st recorded country, Nicaragua! Before this trip, when I thought of Nicaragua, I thought of Sandinistas, civil wars, communists, and Daniel Ortega. Ortega is still there…in fact, he’s the president again, and the Sandinistas are still around. But communism and the war are long gone and, let me tell you, Nicaragua is one unbelievably beautiful place.
Nicaragua shares its climate with its Caribbean and Central American neighbors…in other words, tropical breezes, sunshine, and warmth. In addition, it also has some massive lakes, the largest, the aptly named Lake Nicaragua, is the largest in Central America.
The group of SharePoint specialists I spent my time with took me out on a boat tour of the many islands in Lake Nicaragua. If you are ever in the market for buying your own personal island, this is the place to do it! The going rate starts at $100,000, pretty cheap considering ITS YOUR OWN ISLAND. Suddenly you don’t have to be Johnny Depp to own one.
And, by the way, if you make it there…don’t bother with Managua, the capital. Make your way directly to Grenada, the old capital, and a city locked in time architecturally. All of the buildings in Grenada are under strict rules not to change their facades. At the same time, this isn’t a Disney-style city, it is a real living breathing city with many more locals than tourists.
Let’s be honest, Nicaragua is not for everyone, of course. It doesn’t have a full traditional tourism infrastructure set up and there is still a crime element here, or at least I am told. I did note some corruption issues with bribes being demanded by police that would stop motorists, and there were a few areas of Managua that I passed through that could be considered ‘dodgy.’ That said, I didn’t have any problems there and can honestly say I’ve seen much worse in other places. The people here also were quite nice, and very real.
So, my advice? Visit and check out Nicaragua before the rest of the world figures out what a gem this place. Eventually, a bunch of foreigners will end up buying up all of the buildings in Grenada and the islands in Lake Nicaragua and turning the whole place into one big western-style resort. Until then, I’ll sit and savor the memories and smells of my freshly caught Nicaraguan fish, enjoyed on an island in the midst of my newly discovered paradise.