Boaco and Juigalpa: Exploring the Lesser-Known Nicaragua

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It's always my aim when travelling a country to get to know some of those truly off-the-beaten path type places (not withstanding the fact that I've come to loathe that phrase as a travel catch-all).

The reality, however, is that this rarely occurs for two main reasons. One, there's a beaten path for a reason and it's often because it leads to the sights and the things most worth seeing. And two, when you are a budget traveller (as I assume I will forever be), you must seriously consider where your money is worth spending. Is it on the islands everyone raves about or the little town no one has ever once mentioned outside of Wikipedia? I think you get my drift.

Nonetheless, it can be singularly rewarding to see a place few other travellers venture to. Even if you don't do or see much specifically, you feel like you've been let in on a part of the culture not many others have been. It's the inside scoop.

And so it was with that in mind, and the idea of breaking up a very long trip, that Sebas (friend, coworker, Nicaraguan, all around good person) and I set off for little Boaco in the northern part of the country.

From Managua's Mayoreo bus station it was just a sweaty two hour bus ride and 25 cordobas away. Not bad at all. When we alighted the bus and made our way into a taxi, we were delighted with the way in which the crazy roads had us weaving and winding down into the valley. It wasn't far - Boaco is a very tiny place - but it's adorably set up in two "steps", the upper and lower, and connected by a strange maze of roads that jut here and there haphazardly. Enjoyable. Cute.

Adding to this cuteness are the colours. It's not obvious from above, but nearly every second building and home is a covered in bright, bold paint. Lots of greens, some pinks and blues and purples, and some like those below with patterns and many colours!

To this colour-lover, at least, it was a delight. We found an unexciting but inexpensive (380 cordobas) place to stay right on the main square, and spent that evening and the following morning roaming around a bit.

There's a small hill with boldly coloured steps and a terrace that allow for views of the city and a nice place to catch a breeze...and frankly, not much else. But you know, it was sweet and simple and the people were generally quite friendly - if not a bit awestruck with the foreigner in their midst ;)

We agreed bright Boaco might not make a "must-see" travel list but it was worth the stopover.

Following the same vein the next day, we hopped a bus to Juigalpa which was less than three hours away, but still en route to our actual destination (the Caribbean side of Nicaragua!).

I...want to be kind here. But basically, Juigalpa is as hot as I imagine the center of hell to be, it has nothing to offer aside from two little parks which, while charming, do not merit much in the way of a visit, and the accommodations are singularly overpriced for a small city no one ever visits.

Ok that might be unfair. It does seem that Juigalpa is some sort of rich cattle farming area and there were some seriously swank vehicles rolling around what seemed to be an empty, hot dust bowl. It reminded me a lot of where I grew up in that way (shout out to Alberta, Canada!) but trade the insufferable heat for impossible winters.

Anyhoodle, let's sum to say if you want an untouched slice of Nicaragua or a night away from the big city of Managua, sink your teeth into little Boaco. But leave Juigalpa to the much grittier folk than you.

How do you feel about visiting the littler towns along the way to your destination? Worthwhile or money better spent elsewhere?

Stay tuned for part 2 of our adventures...they feature the Caribbean, a man named Spicer, and many boats...so basically a ton more fun!