Finding your way off the tourist trail in Nicaragua can be more rewarding than following it. Most travelers to Central America will agree that they would want to stretch their cultural horizons by interacting more with locals but face a myriad of difficulties, usually starting with language.
Fortunately for the lion-hearted traveler, there is an alternative to the Spanish-speaking, fried food, gallo pinto, taxi and bus culture that makes up the majority of the country. Your journey may start in humdrum Managua, but ends in a Caribbean paradise.
The Caribbean coast is located in the Región Autónoma del Atlántico Sur (RAAS). Bluefields, The corn Islands (Big and little Corn) are popular Caribbean destinations in Nicaragua.
Bluefields was named after the Dutch pirate Abraham Blauvelt who hid in the bay’s waters in the early 17th century. It has a population of around 87,000 and its inhabitants are mostly Mestizo, Miskito, whites, blacks, along with smaller communities of Garifuna, Chinese, Sumu, and Ramas. Bluefields is Nicaragua’s chief Caribbean port, where hardwood, seafood, shrimp and lobster are exported. Black Africans first appeared in the Caribbean coast in 1641, when a Portuguese ship that transported slaves wrecked in the Miskito Cays. Many of the blacks are descendants of slaves originating in Jamaica that sought freedom on the Nicaraguan coast and continued arriving during the greater part of the 19th century.
The guidebooks had described the Caribbean port of Bluefields as a serious jaunt East from the popular North-South backpacker route on the Pacific side. It is truly intriguing when you think of a country such as Nicaragua. There are cars but you cannot drive there because there are no roads. They speak Spanish but only when they have to because most of the people speak English (Creole). It isn’t located in a department named after a national hero or political figure, it is in one of the two Atlantic autonomous regions. Today there are about 50,000 residents.
The mix of six ethnicities, four languages, the food, cultures and dancing are all so different than the rest of the country. The average Nicaraguan thinks that Bluefields is an island all by its self. And yet, as you will discover, the Caribbean coast remains largely undiscovered by the tourist population.
For someone who does not have a good grasp of the Spanish language, the Caribbean coast is perfect. English is the preferred tongue with some locals not speaking a word of Spanish, either.
In the capital of the Nicaraguan Garifuna culture, Orinoco, you can make your own drums and learn to dance punta, eat stewed armadillo and make coconut bread, learn about the Walagallo ritual used to purge evil from a sick person and find out what bush medicine will help purge any evil spirits that might be taking residence in your body.
Rama Cay offers the traveler a unique insight into how one of the last remaining indigenous cultures lives in Nicaragua. Local boatmen can take you to Mission Cay for an authentic Rama cookout on the beach and show you how to cook up the best rondon on the coast. They can take you to the village of Tiktik Kaanu, set deep in the Kukra river, where they still hunt with bow and arrows and shoot iguanas from the trees with slingshots. And perhaps they will teach you a few words from their dying mother language that gives them their name.
One of the most famous annual events in Nicaragua is the Maypole Festival held every year the last two weeks of the month of May. This is the Central American version of Mardi Gras. Thousands of people descend upon the city to celebrate non -stop.
Tululu parade is the culmination of the Maypole festival in Bluefields, Nicaragua, the biggest party on the coast.
If you head just Fifty miles northeast of Bluefields, you will be fortunate to discover one of the Caribbean’s lost tropical paradises; The Corn Islands. The two Corn Islands, Big Corn
Island and Little Corn Island. Both have breathtaking landscapes and are lush with exotic fruit trees like noni and mango native palm trees and surrounded by white sandy beaches. They are certainly not the kind of Islands that come to mind when you think of a country like Nicaragua. Back in the 17th century the Islands were a haven for pirates and buccaneers. In fact remnants of shipwrecks and treasures still lay scattered along the turquoise shores. Beautiful beachside hotels and gorgeous coral reefsfor diving or first class snorkeling makes the corn Islands a must stop on your lists of places to visit in Nicaragua.
There is no place on earth quite like this country. The Caribbean in Nicaragua-So Much To Discover!