Beers of Nicaragua: A Taste Test

After the success of our Panamanian Beer taste test, it seemed only fitting that we imbibe in another round in Nicaragua. I would like to thank Colleen for stepping up to the plate and being our third judge in this little adventure.

So without further ado…The beers of Nicaragua

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P1020952Victoria Frost: Alcohol Content 4.9%

Kate: Watery but still hoppy with a little after skunk. Tastes a big lighter then the other Nicaraguan beers. I could drink a few but would still prefer something lighter and with a lower alcohol content

Colleen: Super light and dangerous

Shaun: Pretty good, but bit of a chemical beer taste. Something may be a bit off with this one.

 

P1020953Victoria Classic: Alcohol Content 4.9%

Kate: Way thicker and hoppier. Hits you between the eyes like its saying “drink lots of me and I’ll make your morning a doozy.” It has a bit of a skunky aftertaste. Tastes like something I would drink out of a red plastic cup at a party.

Colleen: More like a Molson Canadian. Heavier then the frost. Don’t care for the chemically after taste

Shaun: Good name (Victoria), Pretty Good. Could slam back a few, less after taste then the frost but would need to be very cold. It’s pretty bad when warm

P1020955Tona: Alcohol Content 4.6%

Kate: Stronger smell. Thick, like molasses beer. A hint of lime at first. I’m not opposed to this beer but would only drink one on a really hot day and only if it was ice cold. Nice to not have that skunky finish though.

Colleen: Heavier than the other two. Harder to chug!

Shaun: Seems like a heavier beer in comparison but refreshing. Good but not as poundable. More of a winter beer then hot climate beer.

P1020956Cerveza Premium: Alcohol Content 4.5%

Kate: Stinky! Tastes like water compared to everything. I keep sipping it up thinking there might be more to it, but its just bubbly yeast water. Let’s be honest, this is a Kate beer. Fluffy, light, nothingness. Perfect for my delicate dainty palate

Colleen: Not sure if this is even from Nicaragua, what does “Made in Central America” even mean. Not a huge fan. Overall would prefer anything else

Shaun: Judging by the name it must be good. Not very good. Reminds me of a Pacific Pilsner…Terrible

So there you have it! We knew going into this that Nicaragua is certainly not known for its beer. That fact was defininetly reinforced with our taste test. It should be advised, that beer taste tests often result in situations like this.

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Yes, that is a delicious street side burrito. I regret nothing!

The Costa Rican beer taste test will be finale. We are waiting for the perfect moment though, because we 9 different varieties to try, we may never recover!

Are you in Costa Rica and want to partake in the finale beer taste test? Message us on Facebook!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Feeling Grateful for my Fabulous Friend Colleen

We didn’t really have much of a plan for our travels in Costa Rica. We had a rough idea  of where we wanted to go, but we hadn’t really decided on where or when we would go places.

The only thing that was written in stone was that we needed to be in Nicaragua by February 24th to meet up with my friend Colleen.

Colleen and I go all the way back to high school. This means, that out of the vast majority of people in my life, she has known me the longest. I would also attest that she is one of the people who knows me the best.

During our travels, I had certainly thought about Colleen’s up coming visit, but it always seemed so far off in the distance. Plus, I was trying to live every day in the moment and not focus to much on what was coming up.

It wasn’t until the night before leaving for Nicaragua that it actually struck me that I was going to be seeing my friend for the first time in a very long time.

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Nothing could have prepared me for how wonderful it was to spend time with her.

When you are travelling, you spend so much time in your head. Although we often meet new people, the conversations you have with them tend to be superficial. Most travellers you meet are in and out of your life within a couple days.

And of course I have my lovely husband with me, and its been wonderful to have all of this time to talk together. But even I know there are limits to how many times I can tell him about my feelings and disclose what I’m grateful for. Poor guy, no wonder he surfs so much 😉

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So here we are, back at the idea of gratitude. I feel so thankful to have been able to spend four days with Colleen. We talked like crazy and caught up on everything that is going on in each others lives and in each others heads. She listened to all of my “big ideas” and had such a wonderful perspective on things. I’m left feeling even more excited about where our paths are taking us next.

Time spent with friends is now one of those things that I will never again take for granted.

So, the next time you are sitting with a friend, and having those conversations that friends have, take a moment and appreciate just how lucky you are to have them in your lives!

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow on Twitter:@caketress

Our Border Crossing from Costa Rica to Nicaragua Part 2

I have lots of great stories about our time in Nicaragua to share with you, but I won’t leave you hanging any longer about the drama that unfolded trying to get back into Costa Rica. So we are going to go a little out of order here. Hang on tight, I know you can handle it.

Oh and also, with the high stress nature of this situation, picture taking was not a priority, so please enjoy my home made art work to depict how things went down. I’ve added additional notes about this artwork at the end of the post.

So, if you’ve read yesterday’s post, you know that our trip to Nicaragua went off without a hitch. We sailed smoothly through the entire process, and ended up in San Juan del Sur safe and sound.

Despite the ease of our voyage, we were still a little wary of what would happen on our return trip. We had booked in with the same tour company, and the idea was we would be meeting up with that same day tour from Grenada on their way back into Costa Rica.

Things started out great!

Things started out great!

A great idea in theory, but the timing of this rendez-vous seemed pretty sketchy. We were told to be at the Maxi Pali, a grocery store chain, in Rivas, Nicaragua at 4pm. Our shuttle would arrive to pick us up sometime between 4 and 5:30, depending on how long the sightseeing on the tour took.

We had never been to Rivas, and the though of standing outside a grocery store parking lot seemed rather unfortunate. But, based on the great experience we had with the tour company on our way over, we figured everything would be fine. We also confirmed everything that day before,just to be on the safe side. So we were entering into the situation  with confidence.

Oh dear, where are they?

Oh dear, where are they?

We arrived at the Maxi Pali around 3:40. We took turns going into the grocery store, and grabbing a couple snacks for the road. Then we sat and waited

and waited….

and waited….

and waited…

Every time we saw a shuttle go by, we would stand up thinking it was ours, but no luck. Before we knew it, it was 5:25, dusk was setting in, and we were suddenly faced with the real possibility of being stranded in Nicaragua.

We instantly went into problem solving mode. Although I didn’t have the number for the tour company, I did have one for the tour operator who booked our trip. It was just a matter of finding a phone that we could use. Well, not only a phone, but one that we could use to phone another country.

Shaun headed into the Maxi Pali and asked every employee he ran into. No one was willing to give us a hand. Meanwhile, I waited outside with the bags, and for the first time in the entire trip, I got a little nervous about being alone, being a women, and being so obviously a tourist.

I swayed back and forth from wanting Shaun to find a phone so we could sort out the shuttle, and wanting him just to come back and stand with me. After about 10 minutes, Shaun came back out, no phone. It was time to make a decision.

We're saved!

We’re saved!

Just as we started discussing our options, a tourist van pulls in. We recognize the company name and we are extatic. As a couple of their passengers get out, we grab our bags and walk up to it, but they don’t open the door for us. We walk over to the driver’s window who is now giving us a very strange look.

The tour guide comes out and asks us  “What are you doing here?” We respond that we are waiting to go to Tamarindo with them.

“Not with us,” he responds. “We are going to Playa Coco in Costa Rica, the Tamarindo bus is long gone. The only reason we stopped here was because someone had to pee”

Our jaws dropped.

Our shuttle had forgotten us. We would have been stranded, but by some amazing, magical twist of fate, someone asked the driver if they could pull over to pee, just as they were about to pass the exact grocery store we were waiting at.

No pee…no stopping…no border

Without a moment of hesitation the guide whisked us aboard his bus, telling us just how close we came, and how lucky we were.

We felt LUCKY! I literally have never been so elated in my life.Everyone on the bus marvelled at our story and welcomed us into their tour group with open arms. I told the guy who had to pee that he had a magical bladder, and I was so thankful for the massive beer he had had with lunch. We ended up having an amazing ride back to Costa Rica, and met so many cool people along the way.

In the past, I might have focused on the “what if’s” and been mad at the tour company for screwing up. But I don’t feel that way at all. I’ve been working so hard lately on gratitude and positivity, and I truly feel that living my life with this kind of outlook is sending all sorts of magical situations my way. This amazing lucky moment, being one of them.

A couple of notes about the art work in this post

  • Despite what it may look like, Shaun and I were actually fully clothed during this adventure
  • I can also attest that we both had hands at the time of this event as well.
  • Yes, my head is consistently larger then Shaun’s in these pictures for a reason
  • The stringyness of my hair is actually a fairly accurate depiction of its actual state at that time
  • This will be the first and last time I make my own art work for the blog. You can’t even begin to imagine how long these took me lol

Have you ever experienced something that made you feel lucky?

Pura Vida!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress

Our Border Run from Costa Rica to Nicaragua Part 1

Ahhh border crossing…how I loathe thee…

Ever since the gong show of our border run to Panama, Shaun and I had been dreading crossing the border to Nicaragua. We had read that crossing the border into Nicaragua was more difficult then Panama, so we were preparing ourselves. Despite our hesitation, I was SO excited, because crossing the border into Nicaragua didn’t just mean exploring another country, it meant meeting up with my absolute bestie Colleen.

Motivated by my urge to squish my homesickness with a big ole Colleen hug, I entered into our border crossing with the mantra of “BRING IT!”…This attitude worked, and we made it BUT in the process we nearly had the biggest disaster of our entire trip…intrigued?  Here is how things went down.

VERY early morning shuttles

VERY early morning shuttles

Similarly to what we did in Panama, we booked a shuttle to take us over the border, and boy was it early! The shuttle was actually the day tour that goes from Tamarindo to Grenada, and it leaves at 4:30am. So, in what felt like the middle of the night, we said goodbye to Bearly Bear and crept out of Villas Macondo into our awaiting van.

We were driven to Liberia at which point we switched vans and were driven to a soda for breakfast. We actually didn’t even breakfast was included so that was an added bonus. Shaun rocked a little gallo pinto, while I had fruit and coffee.

It was at this point that I noticed how incredibly complex and organized this tour company was. During our breakfast about 6 different vans full of people pulled up. Each tour guide had a list of travellers and as everyone was served their breakfast in record time, they organized people into their corresponding tours.

So many trucks

So many trucks

Since we were the only people just being shuttle over the border, we were actually in a van by ourselves. We finished our breakfast and hopped aboard for the 50 mile drive to the border.

We knew we were nearing the border when we started seeing the trucks. Miles and miles of huge big rigs lined the streets. Our guide later told us that they can sit there for over a week waiting to cross the border. Seems like an ordeal that I don’t need to add to my bucket list!

Once at the border, we grabbed our bags and went through Costa Rica Immigration. Piece of cake, in and out in less then 5 minutes. At this point, the Grenada tour pulled up, and we were told that we would be getting on their bus to actually drive over the border.

Driving through no mans land

Driving through no mans land

Unlike Panama, you can actually drive a car across the border into Nicaragua. Why not walk you might ask? Well between the border of Costa Rica to Nicaragua is about a kilometre long stretch of no man’s land. The road is lined with chain link fences and groups of people holding big wads of cash follow you the whole way down the road, yelling at about exchanging money. I’ve actually heard that it used to be much worse, as there used to be no fence, so people would actually get swarmed. Not fun.

The fact that we were getting on this lovely little air conditioned tourista bus sounded like a great idea to me!

We drove down the little road, and turned into another little building. This was where we would go through Nicaraguan immigration, and pay our city tax. The rest of the tour members got to poke around the vendors and duty free while the guide took care of their paperwork, while Shaun and I had to go through the process ourselves.

smiling through a border run....unheard of!

smiling through a border run….unheard of!

Our tour guide David was SO amazing. He spoke perfect English and helped us figure out all the various lines ups we needed to go to. He even sped up the process by translating things, and helping us navigate where to pay the city tax. All in all it cost us 6 dollars to get in the country plus a 1 dollar city tax.

So we ended up with new stamps in our passports and all sorts of little pieces of paper to tuck in our passports (David told us not to worry about them, we could just use them for our “scrapbook”). He then introduced us to our driver, a young Nicaraguan guy who would drive us into San Juan del Sur. Not a cab per say, but a great guy who spoke a little English and gave us a bit of a tour along the way.

It is hard to believe that everything went so smoothly. We couldn’t believe our luck! Everyone was amazing and we felt like the whole process was just beyond simple…that is…until we had to come back over the border 9 days later…THAT is when disaster nearly struck.

You’ll have to check back tomorrow to hear the crazyness of our return trip!

Kate

Follow me on Twitter:@caketress