Tuesday, December 30, 2014

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chilling out in granada

Upon arrival in Granada, I got my first taste of the "good vibes" that Lonely Planet mentioned so often in their "Central America on a Shoestring" guide.  Best known as a town to wander aimlessly, partake in cafe culture, see colonial architecture, and easily access lakes and volcanoes, I practiced the art of relaxation throughout my few days in the city.  As I mentioned in my first post about Nicaragua, I kind of just showed up without a plan--no idea how to get anywhere from the airport, very little conversational Spanish, and only a vague plan as to how to spend the next few days.  Just my luck: Granada is the perfect place to enjoy having no plans at all.

Sightseeing highlights from a very light-on-sightseeing few days: crumbling churches, yellow bright churches, stuttering through a $7/hour one-on-one Spanish lesson, cooling down from the humidity with an aqua fresca in Parque Central (the main town square), spending some quality time with a glass of sangria and a new book at the Garden Cafe, communicating in sign language at the Cafe de Sonrisas, a hammock factory/coffee shop employing deaf locals, plenty of hammock time at my hostel, and banana pancakes every morning for breakfast (with a smile and nostalgia for the Banana Pancake trail in SE Asia).

Beating the heat with a watermelon juice (or Tona, come 5 o'clock), book in hand, while lounging in a hammock, is probably the best way to spend a Wednesday I can think of.  Especially when you're wearing a swimsuit, escaping a frigid December back home!

Monday, December 22, 2014

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is it just me...

or is Zara killing it right now?!

I want everything.

embroidered jacket

glitter booties (aka the ysl knockoffs everyone should buy)

faux leather fringed jacket

Image 6 of LOW-RISE SKINNY JEANS from Zara
patch skinny jeans

messenger bag with metallic fastener

buckled moleskin mini skirt

high-heeled leather boot

side note/slightly related: I am having a major 70s moment rn.  I blame this Instagram (and this one too)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

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mucho gusto, nicaragua

I just got back from Nicaragua!  It was amazing.  I want to move there now.

So remember how I made these lofty New Year's resolutions? Lol.  Although actually I just re-read them and I think I didn't do too bad (no BM though).  I kept thinking about them throughout the year, and my #1 was to visit a new country.  I have this sort-of-kind-of goal of traveling to 30 countries by the time I'm 30 (rule: airports don't count), and to make that really happen I need to stay on top of it and not go a year without a new country.

So when it was November and I didn't have any plans (and not many vacation days) I started to worry.  I did my time report, which left me with 3 days to spend by the end of December.  Cue the Airfare Watch Dog Alerts to like 6 countries, close monitoring of Skyscanner, random browsing of my "Caribbean Islands" Lonely Planet, frantic emails attempting to persuade friends and/or family members to come with.  First one friend wanted to come, then another, then neither, then my parents considered it... half-assed itinerary research continued and then all of a sudden I saw one of my alerts appear for half-price, from JFK to Managua for $408.  Where was Managua again?

After no real answers from potential travel partners, I took it as a sign to commit to Managua, and bust out the "Central America on a Shoestring" travel guide instead, and read up on Nicaragua.  One spontaneous afternoon I clicked through, booking a flight 3 weeks out.  My lackadaisical approach continued: I kind of absent-mindedly ignored the idea of practicing my very rusty Spanish skills, didn't read much more than a few paragraphs about each destination in Nica, and packed a few bathing suits but no flip flops the night before.  I booked 1 night in a town 2 hours away from the airport, and hoped I could figure it out in broken Spanglish when I landed.  (I have to be honest: THIS IS SO UNLIKE ME.  I work in PR, if you know anything about that, it means I am usually highly organized, a planning freak, prepared for every best and worst situation.  I think SE Asia truly changed me! Slash work is stressful and makes me lazy.)

Despite my carefree/careless planning for this trip (which made me worried I wouldn't have a great trip, see effects of vacation planning anticipation on happiness aqui), I HAD THE BEST TIME EVER.  Nicaragua is amazing--it's one of my favorite places I've ever been.  I've told this to everyone whose asked upon my return, and find describing why I loved it so much very difficult.  I'm kind of reduced to "so many good vibes there!!~~" which is a seriously lame description.  Lo siento!

Here's another attempt, picture this: "Wake up and look out your window to greenery and an ocean view.  Head to breakfast, where a fresh fruit smoothie is $1, huevos rancheros another $1, or maybe some iced coffee from the coffee plantations a few hours inland.  Power nap in a hammock until the next activity, but no rush--at 1pm you get picked up in a truck to ride 30 minutes through pastoral countryside and then a jungle to the beach.  Surf's up!  The waves are just right in December--small, consistent, and the water's still warm.  Post surfing, relax and watch the sunset with a $1 Tona, reggae in the background.  Ride back to town, eat some tacos with new friends, and dance to some throwback Enrique Inglesias while throwing back a rum and coke or another beer.  Tomorrow?  Rinse & repeat."

Good vibes, right?!  I could have stayed for a month.  Nicaragua, te extrano mucho. 

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