Goooooooood morning Nicaragua. What a pleasure it is to wake up within your borders.
We woke up on top bunks today, to the sun shining in our faces and the sounds of español as the locals greet each other a good morning outside our window.
We’ve been in Managua, Nicaragua, for 12 hours now, and I think we never want to leave. Partly because that’s how we always feel when arriving in a new city, but mostly because food.
Our first meal in Nicaragua was surreal. We exit the gated hostel, follow the receptionist’s directions and end up at El Garabato, heaven. It was serene. It was peaceful. It was relaxing. And then we read the menu. Score: There was everything our cab driver suggested we try.
Last night we ate a late dinner at a restaurant called El Garabato. We don’t know if we were granted a preview to heaven in the form of a meal, but we think that might be what happened. We followed a path through the restaurant and discovered an incredible patio area in the back. There were Christmas lights and lanterns lining the sky. A quote on the wall that read “En Managua hay un lindo paraje que es todo un ensueño.” (“In Managua there is a beautiful place in which everything is a dream.”)
And the only words we exchanged were a combination of the following phrases:
Where are we
Is this real life
How did we get here
I think that was all we said in the next fifteen minutes. Then we ordered “Michelada,” Nicaragua’s national drink. The waiter brought us mugs and a bottles of Toña beer. The bottom half inch of the mug contained a mixture of salsa inglesa (Worcestershire sauce), hot sauce, lemon, tomato juice, and peppers. He poured the beer into the mugs and mixed the two around before handing them to us to drink. Kerianne likes hot sauce. Christine does not like hot sauce. Logically: Kerianne likes Michelada. Christine does not like Michelada.
Next, we ordered something called Caballo Bayo and Queso Fundido. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that you cannot die without trying these two things, especially the first. Caballo Bayo is kind of like a weird version of a fajita. They give you tiny, chip-sized cuts of tortilla, with which you build your own delicious concoction of a baby taco with any (or if you’re like me and Kerianne, all) of the following:
– shredded beef
– fried pork loin
– shredded chicken
– pico de gallo
– hot pickle onions: a yellow, delicious, ridiculously spicy sauce that Kerianne almost died from tasting
– sour cream
– cole slaw
Queso Fundido was a whole other story. Cheese fondue with tomatoes, chorizo, and bell peppers, served with refried beans and cheese. This is all also put inside tiny tortillas.
The waiter left and we spent the next twenty minutes stuffing our faces exchanging these advanced vocabulary words:
What is this
And then we were full. Of food, of glee, of newness, of life. We knew how lucky we were, to sit there, in the center of Managua, enjoying a classic Nicaraguan meal, and to actually appreciate the meaning behind our being there. Our love for exploring cultures, cuisines, and countries brought us together to show us how important it is to travel, and to try. At one point, I looked up and Kerianne was scooping the cheese fondue and literally talking to it. “Hi guys, how are you doing?” I think I heard the cheese respond, but I don’t want to start making things up. I’ll never be sure though, I think it was all a dream.
Do you ever stop and think, “How did I even get here?” We sure did. We’re in Nicaragua and we have a long (seriously), very long gratitude list. And API tops it. If it weren’t for out crossing of paths in Austin at API Peer Mentor orientation, we wouldn’t be sitting side by side drinking Michelada, digging into Caballo Bayo and affirming our realization that life is about movement.
Wondering | Wandering,
KB & CODEA
The original version of this post appeared on November 29, 2014 on @codea‘s blog, Christine Meets Life.