The day starts so clear and beautiful as I walk down to the beach. The tiki huts that serve as weekend bars are empty and the thatch from their roofs rustles over the sound of the surf. The sand is warm until the cool water of the Pacific rushes over my feet as I try to catch a sand dollar. Ahead of me are several dogs playing chase, and next to me are a flock of small white birds that occasionally fly around in a circle before landing again in the surf. As usual, I am the only person here, except for the occasional fisherman casting his net.
This quiet escape is Pochomil, Nicaragua. Look in a guidebook and you still will not know much about this hidden treasure of the Pacific Coast. It is not as well-known as a tourist destination as counterpart, San Juan Del Sur. Instead, it is the playground of the wealthy families of Nicaragua’s capital, Managua, but only on the weekends. The rest of the week it is a quiet retreat – just the sand dollars and birds.
I continue my walk along the coast watching the waves spray high into the air and stepping over the volcanic outcroppings that make small tidal pools for crabs and beautiful sunset pictures. I pass an old man on a horse-drawn cart who smiles and waves. That is the thing about this place, even being a tourist; everyone is friendly and wants to know more about me. I wish I had spent more time on my Spanish so I could actually have an adult conversation, but knowing that I will receive a smile works for now.
The bus costs less than 5 Cordoba, about 20 cents, to Masachapa, the neighboring town and where I am headed, but I always choose the walk along the beach for its ever-present beauty. As I pass the last bend, I see the lighthouse on the far side of Masachapa which actually serves as tsunami warning system, but is designed as a lighthouse. Between us are dozens of fishing boats, all painted in different bright colors dappling the beach pulled high away from the surf. In the evenings, you can watch as the men work to move them back down to the water on large wood logs so they can go out and catch the treasures of sea.
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