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Jon Helminiak

Discovering the Nicaraguan Condo

The worst gravel road in the Western Hemisphere leads to the remote northwest coast of Nicaragua. Driving here nearly ruined my four-wheel drive vehicle. But it was worth it.











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Referred to as the "Nicaraguan Congo," this coastline has miles of deserted sand beach, warm waters, caballeros on horseback, volcanos, and one fishing village named Mechape. Upon arrival, the villagers presented me with eggs of the endangered sea-turtle, and insisted I eat them. I sucked the raw contents directly from the soft, spongy shell. They were still warm. The people smiled, happy that their hospitality was accepted.

Then I had a shot of tequila to assuage my guilt.

The next day, a young man from the village brought me a horse to ride. The bridle was rope. When I mounted, the horse bucked me off, and galloped away. Another horse was brought, this one more docile. I rode it along the beach for hours and saw nobody. Just horse and me.

To me, this is the best place in Central America. It's rugged, difficult to reach, seductively beautiful, and mostly undeveloped.

So far.