In today’s episode, we’re talking with the amazing Sasha Williams, the face behind Segunda Vida Vegan Bed and Breakfast in Nicaragua. Sasha’s got a serious passion for health and fitness and decided to create a bed and breakfast that caters to plant-based lifestyles. How cool is that?
Sasha’s here to give us the inside scoop on the ultimate 10-day trip to Nicaragua. From Managua to Big Corn Island, Granada, Ometepe, SJDS, and Libera, she covers all the must-visit spots and hidden gems. Plus, she’s sharing tips on how to avoid tourist traps, the best places for art, cooking classes, live music, and beach days. And don’t worry, she’s got advice on transportation options and hikes, ranging from easy to hard.
Oh, and for those who want to keep exploring after Nicaragua, Sasha’s got tips on seamlessly moving on to Costa Rica without backtracking. Get ready to experience the beauty and culture of Nicaragua like a pro!
In this episode, we discuss the following:
- Optimal 10-day trip itinerary: Managua, Big Corn Island (2 days), Granada (2 days), Ometepe (2 days), San Juan del Sur (3 days), Liberia
- Hidden gems in each location, including:
- Big Corn Island: Hotel Paraiso, Darinias Kitchen, Picnic Beach Bar
- Granada: Masaya Volcano, Hotel Tribal, Grafica Mujeres, Garden Cafe
- Ometepe: El Pital, Volcan Concepción hike, Ojo de Agua
- San Juan del Sur: William Walker Hike, Playa Coco, Vital Actions Collado Nature Preserve, Playa Majagual, Machete Friday, Hush Wednesday, Rockbar
- Aimed at travelers with limited time (10-14 days) who want to see the highlights without losing time to delays or tourist traps
- Advice on how to land in Managua and leave by Costa Rica without backtracking
- Emphasis on cultural differences in each location, as well as original spaces, art, cooking classes, good food options, live music, and beach days
- Suggestions for getting around (bus, moto, quad, scooter, taxi) and keeping active with easy to hard hikes
- Candid discussion on safety and things to see on the road.
Learn more about what we talk about
- Hidden Gems BCI – 2 days
- Hidden Gems Granada
- Hidden Gems Ometepe
- Hidden Gems SJDS
Other World Vegan Travel content connected with this episode
- Best Vegan City Food Tours – North America (US, Canada, and Mexico)
- Vegan Dive Travel: Explore the Other 70% of the World with Infinite Blue Travel | Teagan Kane | Ep 88
- S4 Ep17 | International School Teaching to Travel the World | Nina Radcliffe
- Two Huge Vegan Budget Travel Tips | Lucy Elkin | Ep 102
- Travel Hacking 101 – The Basics | David Goudreau | Ep 101
- How to Meaningfully Elevate Your Travels | Claire Burt | Ep 103
Connect with Sasha
Brighde: Hello, Sasha. Thank you so much for joining me on The World Vegan Travel Podcast.
Sasha: Thank you for having me.
Brighde: I am really excited to have you here to talk about a destination that we haven’t even uttered about on the podcast in more than 100 episodes. So that is the destination of Nicaragua and I’m really pleased to have you on to talk about this. But before we get into this interesting destination, why don’t you tell us a little bit about what it is that you do in the vegan and vegan travel space?
Sasha: Sure. Well, I’m currently located in Nicaragua I’ve been here permanently for three years. That plan started in about 2006 and had many iterations. But here I sit tonight. I’ve been vegan for 28 years. I think more, but I’m not even gonna say it anymore. Once I hit 28, I just stopped. It was for health reasons, but I was vegetarian for a number of years before that. I worked in the corporate world. I was a dancer for a very long time and I always had this passion for something more artistic. I was quite, I don’t know, dissatisfied with the work, on a soul level.
So on the side, I was always getting different educations and running different businesses. So my main, I guess level of interest was always health and wellness because I was a sick person and that changed my life. What I noticed was that eventually it just added up to more and more to where I wanted to share this with people and not just by teaching cooking classes or running talks on various different types of healing practices and having all those certifications to do it. I was like, no, I wanna run an immersive experience that can bundle all of my talents and the things I’m passionate about. So, years ago I sort of started, before the side gig terminology existed. I was side-gigging and then one day I just said goodbye to the corporate world in Vancouver.
I spent most of my life in Vancouver, east Vancouver. I still offer all of those things now as a therapist, a nutritionist, and a personal trainer. I’ve been a Vegan bodybuilder for years. I work with people on most levels, but now I’m trying to bring it all home to one place.
Brighde: Well, that leads us to this amazing space that you’ve created in Nicaragua. It’s very interesting. Tell us a little about it.
Sasha: Sure. About 2006, I made a random trip to Costa Rica actually, before it had become the Disneyland that it is now. And it was very rustic and I just felt it. I just felt Central America. I started looking then and started traveling to other places within Central America to consider somewhere I wanted to be able to bundle up this gift and give it away. But I knew because of one experience, I had a really cute family, Hilltop overlooking the ocean destination. They weren’t vegan but it was just the feeling. I was like, I’m gonna do that. So I decided, alongside my husband, who of course I met along the way. The general plan is that we’re gonna open a space for adults only who want to come and have this Segunda Vida, this second life. This place to explore what it is to like truly do good things for yourself and just worry about yourself for once. So painstakingly we have carved out a beautiful oasis here on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, where our cafe is almost finished, we’re gonna be offering cooking classes, obviously food and stuff like that.
We have a full-service American Imported Gym for people who are interested in bodybuilding cuz it’s very yoga surfing-centric here. I came in and I was like, I’m not doing yoga, I’m not doing surfing even though I do both. So we wanna just make it about healing here. So we have a medicine bar, which is coming in, which takes into consideration all my practice with herbal medicinals as a master herbalist, that’ll be a sober bar and alcohol as well. But I wanna use the food and the drinks here to educate people, and I just want them to shed layers and be. This is such a remote space that I think it brings you down to earth and that’s kind of what everybody needs. Even if you only have 10 days or two weeks.
Brighde: Tell us again the name of it.
Sasha: Segunda Vida directly translated its second life, and that was kind of for me too, right? Here’s my second chance.
Brighde: So it sounds to me like you offer some programs, in the manner of a retreat or something like that. Do you just have groups or can people just join in? Can people come and stay with you just for accommodations? Like how does that work?
Sasha: We’re very open and it’s based on demand because it is a tourism-based business. So we have seasonality that occurs here, also interest. It’s very interesting. A lot of people wanna do yoga and get in touch with that whole thing, but not a lot of people are super grooving on the vegan thing still and I don’t know why. There are places that offer detox and stuff like that, and that’s not what I’m about. I still want variety, so we’re open to the public-ish. But because we are adults only, that definitely separates the crowd.
Then we have a few rules that we live by, which are; we can’t have animal products on the property. We can’t have, single-use plastics on the property. There are just some lifestyle things that we prefer. We are fully off-grid. We have to be conscious of how we use water and how we use electricity. Not to say that we don’t have an abundance of it, but it’s just bringing attention to it. We have outside bookings. In terms of groups, I haven’t considered it as yet because we’re in the third phase of construction and I don’t wanna advertise to more people than I can hold. But definitely, I would love to be able to host, intimate groups of people who want to come together. I don’t wanna say girls’ trip, cuz it sounds corny, but like a friends’ trip or something where people wanna go do this. But as it falls, yep, people can come and rent. It’s just, a bit more sticky for them if they’re outside of the lifestyle that we’re tooting our horns about. So
Brighde: I love it. Well, I’m convinced I can’t wait to come to visit, but maybe there are some people who aren’t quite convinced yet, even if they’re convinced about the accommodations, but maybe they’re not yet convinced about Nicaragua. So why don’t we just set the scene a little bit? Why don’t you talk a little bit about like the geography, the location, and what countries it neighbors, especially as someone who’s not North American? I don’t know so much about this part of the world as well as I would Europe, for example. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about the location and the climate?
Sasha: It’s really what captured my heart about Nicaragua geographically speaking was the first time I flew in, I came from Canada. We’re sandwiched between Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. So you’re flying down and you cross over like Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, and then eventually Nicaragua. What you’ll notice, if you traveled further by plane over Costa Rica and then Panama, is we’re in this ring of fire it’s called, we are littered with volcanoes, active volcanoes. Actually from our property on the west side, we see the Pacific Ocean, and on the east side, we see two active volcanoes coming out of one of the largest lakes in the world.
That captured me immediately. I was like, wow, I’m looking out here and I got chills. So this is incredible. I’ve not seen something so fertile looking. The regions are very different, in terms of the people and the topography. In northern Nicaragua, right where the Honduras border is, I’ve been directly at the border. There are mountainous regions that get cooler. That’s where we grow our coffee, which is so delicious from here. We’ve got cool cliff jumping and river swimming kind of adventures and stuff up that way. We come a little bit further south and we’ve got Leon, which is a really well-developed large city that we have here. That’s also got a beach close, but it’s very hot. So climate-wise, you can go to about, Celsius 15 degrees down at night, say in January. Whereas here, down south, we’re only 45 minutes from the Costa Rican border. We’ll have 25 degrees pretty much all day, all night. It’s just kind of how Maui maintains that same temperature.
Leon, this other large colonial city that’ll get up stinky hot to like 34. We have some winds here and that’s one thing that this area features, love it or hate it, we’re just coming to the end of the windy season, which is like ripping your skin off, kind of wind. And it’s the Papagayo winds it’s called, and it just comes in for a certain time of year. So it fools you into believing that you’re cooled off. When you’re not, you still get sunburn. But it’s also a really great time for surfers and we have so many surf breaks here that call in a lot of people during that time. Where we live or most of Nicaragua is a dry desert or a dry jungle, which means during the rainy season, it’s very green and lush and we have tons of Florin fauna, lots of crazy stuff you see around here, but right now the wind ripped all the leaves off, we’re very dry and desert-like until about the end of May. I would say April, for people who hate the heat, do not come here.
There’s no wind and there’s no shade but hey, we have a really big pool. So the climate is great. I think, and there’s enough of a variety in the things that happen seasonally that you kind of get to see. I make a note for everybody who comes, these are all the things you see in the various months, whether it’s like lightning bug explosions or certain colors of flowers. So there’s a lot to see, but definitely, we have hurricanes and things like that. There can be some pretty strong weather.
Brighde: It does sound like very interesting weather, and I have to say I love this idea of 25 degrees Celsius all day, every day of the year. It just sounds pretty lovely to me. You mentioned that it’s borded with Costa Rica and of course, people seem to go to Costa Rica more than they go to Nicaragua. Forgetting about the tourism numbers, what would you say are the main differences between the two countries?
Sasha: well, I have legal residency here, so I can’t say certain things. Just politically guests of the country aren’t allowed to really have an opinion, but what I can tell you is that’s part of the reason why some people have fears about coming here, because of the government. They’ve heard a lot of really bad stuff. What I can tell you about that is the government in terms of Extron, HAES or gringos or whatever you wanna call them, there’s a protection for tourists here because they appreciate having tourism here. We are living in about 1982 here. Things are very much in cash. There’s not a lot of computer anything.
Education’s very low. So the niceties that you have in other countries, in terms of hard travel or not, don’t necessarily exist here. Costa Rica, it’s been heavily Americanized and I think from 2006 or 7, the last time I was there, when I saw the first all-inclusive hotels go up, I knew this is going to become like another Mine Riviera. It has that feeling. Most of the population there speaks English. There are a lot of different food options. In terms of crime per capita, it is not a safer country. It’s just easier for people to get around and it’s become very popular, I think a lot because of the group travel with yoga retreats and stuff like that. Nicaragua in contrast is very much untouched.
The culture here is very apparent. You can tell immediately the difference. I don’t wanna make it ever sound derogatory, but we have to consider that in this country there is far less education. Also, the color of people’s skin is very much lighter in Costa Rica. I have to say that’s probably proportionate to how much work they’re doing outdoors versus indoors because people here are very light-skinned as well. It’s just, a lot of them work outside and they’re very dark farmer’s tans.
The way they speak Spanish is different. And if you start to speak Spanish and you go to Mexico and other Latin American countries, you’ll start to notice, oh, I’m using a lot of slang. The people here mumble quite a bit. They have so many slang words that after coming here for 11 years, every day when I’m working with our workers here, I’m like, what the heck is that? I’m always asking, what is the significance of that word? And conversely, when I use like stereotypical very straight Spanish words, they don’t always have that vocabulary. But if you take the trip across the border you’re not gonna immediately notice anything when you’re looking around at all whatsoever. Culturally, I think here people are very much more overtly religious. Everything that happens here happens around some religious holiday. Everything they say to you, I’ll see you tomorrow, a ver si a dios le gustaria’ see if God would like it, that becomes a note for them sometimes.
So I started saying, Si Dios quiere like yes, God wants you to come tomorrow to work. I think it’s just a bit more tranquil here, a bit more chill. They don’t have this pressure feeling, which I think that’s been much more ingrained because of the political relationships. Costa Rica has a great relationship with the US. They have links politically whereas here we’re aligned with China, Venezuela, and Russia. Right.
Brighde: On that note, I’m curious, do you need a visa to enter Nicaragua?
Sasha: Yeah and you get it at the border.
Sasha: It’s simple. You get 90 days. There used to be a thing where you could go into immigration and get another 90. They’ll tell you no, but you tell them yes and then they do it. That’s another thing here. If they always say no first, and then you always say, oh, come on. And then they say, okay. For people here who don’t have residency like myself, they have to leave every 90 days and they can’t go to Honduras, they have to go to Costa Rica because we’re not in the same geographic political relationship. So they skip the border for an hour there, an hour back, and they just continuously renew their visas. Easy process.
Brighde: Yes, I remember. That’s in my time in Asia. We call it, visa run.
Awesome. One last question before we get onto this great itinerary that you have suggested for our listeners today. Is there a strong, indigenous population? You mentioned there’s a lot of people descended from the originals, Spanish people who colonize Nicaragua. I’m just curious about how indigenous issues play up in Nicaragua.
Sasha: Interesting dichotomy. We’ll talk about these locations more in depth maybe a little bit later. But on the northeastern coast, we’re talking about the corn islands. We’re talking about all of the Caribbean waters. Most of the people there are descendants who have come and been brought here from Africa for one reason or another. They speak English, they speak Spanish, and then they speak like a version, kind of a Patois. So they have these Caribbean thick accents, but they also speak Spanish. They’re not, if you go back in history, indigenous, because they were brought here. But they do have very much their definitive culture over there. It’s very different and they don’t even enjoy it, if you’re speaking Spanish to them, they seem to just speak English to you. North ish of that is an area and if you look at a map of Nicaragua and zoom into the names of the places, you’ll start to notice that all of a sudden the Spanish is gone.
They’re in the Mosquito region, they speak another language that is the mosquito, closer to the Honduras border on that Caribbean side that’s completely indigenous and is probably the last untamed, untouched part of here. You can go there. Some of the people I know from here don’t highly recommend it, without knowing somebody there because they can’t communicate exactly as well. But there are the mosquitoes here, they have a large culture of their own. All the words are different. I couldn’t even begin to understand it. Then we have the typical Nicaraguans, which are descendants of colonization to a certain degree and they all speak some version of Spanish. The three are very much separated. So if you see somebody who’s coming from the Caribbean, obviously they’re gonna look very different. They’re speaking English to you directly with a Caribbean accent and then you see them in town and you’re like, well that’s kind of weird cuz everybody in the south is speaking Spanish. So it’s an interesting blend. But yes, there are indigenous people here. They don’t teach a lot about it and when you ask the locals about the histories, they’re not educated well enough for you to take much stock in it. Like I’d rather read a book or Google.
Brighde: Got it. Yeah. Really fascinating. So you’ve put together a fun 10-day itinerary for our listeners, a potential itinerary for them getting all of the best spots.
Sasha: Thank you. I chose what I think is the most immersive, diverse, no-backtracking trip. For me when I travel and I’ve traveled a lot. I don’t really like to backtrack. I’ll do a loop, but going back and forth is kind of a waste of time. If you’re limited on time, You don’t wanna do that. So I thought in 10 days, if people are adventurous, what would be really cool is to come in and land in Managua and that’s our capital city. It is on fire with dysfunction. If you’ve been to India, I always say India and Nicaragua are similar and their only difference is the language we speak, the population basically, and cultural differences obviously. But this is like India just flipped on its head. So, when you go to Managua, various traffic lights might work, but we don’t really have traffic lights in the country. So it becomes like get in a tuck tuck and whoa. You don’t wanna hang out there. Really, honestly, you don’t, if you wanna go to big movie theaters or malls. So I put that as the landing place. I’m like, let’s get the heck out of here. How do we do that? Land, walk outta the airport and walk directly into the small airport next door and get yourself over into the Caribbean and go to Big Corn Island.
Brighde: Okay, so is that like half an hour?
Sasha: 30, 40 minutes, depending on the weather. There are certain times of year you don’t want to go because like I learned some days you get trapped on the islands for seven days at a time when the Navy says you can’t leave the islands. So I didn’t recommend little corn because that’s another boat trip that can get delayed and you don’t wanna be away from your plane cuz if there’s no rebooking, they don’t answer the phone.
You gotta walk up every day and knock on the door and be like, Hey, can I get outta here? That’s how it is in this country. You just let go of everything. So big corn’s safe because you can get big corn from Managua, you can get the heck off big corn to Managua. You can go for two days and there are awesome specials. One place that is Dutch owned but run by all the locals is a place called Hotel Paraiso. They do awesome specials like flights, hotel, and two nights included with breakfast. For two people, $250 US. The island is small. You can drive around it. Not like little corn where there are no cars and you can’t. You can actually get a little car or rent a little motor. Go around, there’s a great vegan vegetarian restaurant on the north end of the island. See that head down to Picnic Beach bar. There’s a floating bar off the water there, see that. There’s not a heck of a lot to do. Get a suntan, and chill out. Check out all of the Caribbean flavors that the island has and then take your two nights of sleep, and get back on the plane.
Get to Granada by car or bus or taxi or private shuttle, whatever you want. Bus is always a challenge, if you have more days, I say take the bus. They call them chicken buses here. If you’ve been around the world, you’re not gonna be shocked. But if it’s your first developing country trip, you’re gonna be a bit shocked and people are standing and it’s quadruple occupancy and you’re gonna freak out of all your first world. Like, ah, it’s not safe. No, it’s not safe, but it’s the only way. So yeah, get to Granada. Why do I love Granada? It’s close to a lot of things. It’s a beautiful colonial city. It’s got a little bit of nice stuff if you wanna do nice stuff, but it’s also got down-to-earth things. Walkable, safe. It’s got everything you need. A variety of food. If you are vegan, you’re not going to go hungry. So I think two days in Granada because close by is the Masaya Volcano. And this is a volcano you can go to at night and actually see the lava flowing. I took some people recently before you could get ridiculously unsafely close to it. There was a six-inch wall, no signs, just like, look over it, nobody’s watching. I was telling people we can get so close, it’s so cool, and then the next time they built a wall. It’s still there but it’s a really cool experience. Not one you wanna take a paid tour too because it’s kind of a rip-off. But if you can take a taxi, go in, see it, and leave, it’s perfect to end the night.
Brighde: Is it a hard climb?
Sasha: If you’re not able-bodied. Even if you’re in a wheelchair and you have the right transport, you drive right up to a parking lot. If you’re walking, walk 50 meters to the wall and look down. It’s flat.
Sasha: Sad hikes around the area to sad points of interest that aren’t that interesting. Also In the area, if you weren’t that jazzed about Granada, if you don’t like the city thing, you can take a day trip out to Laguna de Apoyo, which is a lake, inside of a volcano, and you can go down into the lagoon, pay a day pass at any one of the little hotels there, and sit down and chill out. So you’ve got some nearby options within 20 – 30 minutes. There’s a really great artist program there. It’s called Grafica Mujeres. It’s the girls that are producing the art there with these vinyl tiles. I bought a bunch of it. They aren’t artists, they’re raising money by selling this art to go to school, to engineers and doctors and lawyers. It’s a great place to stop and support.
Brighde: Excellent. Well, before we go south a little bit more, I just wanna remind listeners that very kindly put a lot of links in the show notes for this. So definitely go and check out the show notes. Go to the blog post for this episode, and as you are listening to Sasha talking about these places, you could be clicking on those places and getting a little bit of some photos and other stuff to support what Sasha’s saying. So make sure you go and do that. Okay.
Sasha: Ometepe, So I can see that from my backyard and that’s a volcanic island that has two volcanoes. Concepcion is this gigantic chronicle volcano that still erupts and then Maderas, which is next to it, which is shorter, which blew up a while back. You come about one hour and a half depending on what kind of driver you have, and you come to a ferry on the lake. It’s a very interesting experience navigating the ferry. If you’re walking on, you just walk on. If you wanna get on the ferry, you need to be able to text someone by WhatsApp to see if there’s room, so there are no posted, like, here’s our ferry schedule.
Everything here is privately owned. We don’t have a government bus, we don’t have government ferries, we have nothing. It’s, a dude who has a boat and a WhatsApp number and you text him and you get on. There are great, resources on Facebook for travel here. So if people are considering it, they can go on and say, search the group and go, how the heck do I get on the ferry? You’re gonna get on the ferry. It’s bumpy. It’s always bumpy. There’s wind. You get across and it’s one of the cleanest places here, and that’s the first thing you’re gonna notice. There’s no trash everywhere. Everywhere else is like burning garbage, the typical developing country kind of views around.
But this is clean. They’ve somehow changed minds there and it stayed very rustic. So the gringos are extra heroes that are going there. The businesses and their building are very rustic. The mentality there is very rustic. Lots of vegans and I mentioned El Pital, chocolate Paradise it keeps growing, but it’s down in the jungle. They do like, Trapeze and circus stuff there, but it’s totally Vegan. They have a chocolate farm. You gotta check it out. When we went, it was very rustic and now it’s growing their marketing. And they’re right on the lake, so you can go swimming in the lake. The lake is one of the only freshwater lakes that contain bull sharks, typically saltwater sharks.
Brighde: Are you serious?
Sasha: For decades, but they somehow swam up and found their way through an inlet and now they’re like brackish water sharks in there. Another cool thing about when you get there is when they go to dock the ferry, you’re gonna see people washing their laundry next to cows coming to drink, and in order for them to dock the ferry and tie it up. One guy ties a big nautical rope around his waist and just dives off the back of the boat and ties you to a post. It’s kind of weird but you don’t need a ton of time there because I think it’s such a pristine place. What I really think people should see is going to the Ojo de Agua, it’s like a Cenote in Mexico, but it’s not.
It’s not hot water or anything like that. It’s just this beautiful location. Then hike the volcano if you can, with a guide. People have gotten lost depending on the time of year. It’s a bird’s eye view of just the most incredible island you can drive around the whole thing, but everything shuts down pretty early, so it’s a tranquilo again. That’s why in 10 days, even though it feels like you’re making a lot of stops, there’s a lot of hurry up, you gotta wait.
Brighde: It really does sound really nice. This is really taking me back to when I first started traveling in the late nineties and early two thousand. It sounds exactly like Laos, and Vietnam was back then, and Thailand, and Myanmar. Wow. So amazing. We’ve had an amazing time at Ometepe. Where should we go next on our tour?
Sasha: We’re gonna take the ferry back and we’re gonna go through the town of Reus, which you’re just gonna pass, but if you need supplies, there are grocery stores here now called La Colonia, The Colony. That is sort of Westernized grocery stores. So it’s a great place to pick up supplies, especially if you’re not quite sure, about how to shop in the smaller stores about where stuff is. So it’s a great pit stop. They have some vegan options things here though. They come in batches. So they’ll have hummus for three months and they won’t for six. It’s just the way it is. Buy a can of chickpeas, and make your own. Then head to the town of San Juan del Sur, which is where I’m located. Why? Because we’re making our way to the Costa Rica border and eventually leaving. I think leaving by the Costa Rica border is a very interesting experience that I think everyone should choose to do. That’s why I chose that direction as well. When you get to San Juan, there’s some cool stuff that happened here because it was colonized and settled.
There was a fellow by the name of William Walker, who was American, who became the president of the country for a while by force and then they murdered him, which, you know, rightly so. He was not a good guy. Google him. But we have a hike to one of his forts that he has here in town. It’s kind of hidden. You can go up to a lighthouse. It’s behind all the fishmongers, and I think is a great place to go up. Then Google later and find out more about, cause it’s really interesting. San Juan itself, we did have cruise ships coming through here for a while, and then because of covid, everything shut down.
So it did become quite bustling for a few years in terms of the trinket shops and stuff in town. The restaurants grew, so there’s a boardwalk of sorts, like watch where you’re stepping. Of course, it’s not spit-polished. There are a couple of larger American restaurants there. If people have gotten an itch that everything’s very small and they just want something familiar. You can watch sports events, and do all sorts of things, but there it’s also a great hub for tours. You can go see the turtle reserves and watch turtles hatch early in the morning. I think that’s really interesting.
They will take you to all the different beaches for surfing. It’s a great hub for shuttles. You can wheel and deal with all the different shuttle prices. I wanna go to this beach for whatever reason, and check out all the prices. During certain times of the year, like Semana Santa, which is coming in April, which is crazy Easter religious partying. It’s just a place to be to see culture, like the culture as it is now, and how they undertake all of their different celebrations cuz it goes off. At the end of the year they burn giant EFS hanging from buildings, to bring in the new year. There’s just some really cool stuff that they do. So it’s nice to get into a bigger town, quote-unquote, that isn’t overwhelming. We’ve got some people here doing some great things and one person that does amazing stuff, he’s American. His name is Tim Russ Meisel. He runs the vital actions group. They’re buying up as much land as they can here to save it and create a preserve. So he does tours. He also has three different nesting sites where he’s saving turtles.
We have a turtle egg trade here. People eat them, they show up in bars and sell them as snacks and stuff. We have endangered species here. So it’s really great to come here and people who’ve been here for a while teach you about stuff that goes on here, in terms of the wildlife and preservation actions that we can take. Then, of course, you’ve got seven, eight, beautiful beaches. If you just wanna bum around for a few days at the end of your trip, get a tan, swim, or learn how to surf. There’s no end to the beaches. Live music, all different kinds of stuff. So it’s a great way to end after all the tranquility, I think.
Brighde: I think so, this is an amazing itinerary. I am so excited. A question that I had regarding vegan stuff is, Is Nicaraguan cuisine naturally vegan friendly, or are there some Nicaraguan vegans or maybe some foreign vegans who are creating vegan versions? What is Nicaraguan cuisine like?
Sasha: Well, they have some staples. It’s a very impoverished country, so most people are eating Gallopinto, which is just beans and rice cooked in oil and with some salt. They are not all about spices here. We don’t grow a ton of spices here. We export sugar, they drink a lot of pop. The people are overweight. A lot of them are overweight, and I think it’s specifically because of the amount of oil and pop. It’s, it’s ridiculous, and it’s very much everyone’s in their hammocks after work and there’s not a lot of moving around. We’ve got Tostones, which in Costa Rica they call Patagonia, which are just fried plantains mashed flat, which most people probably know. They really like ceviche here, but of course that has fish and stuff in it. There are a few people that make it vegan. They love fried chicken, they love whole fried fish. Everything is fried.
So for me no because obviously I’m vegan and I don’t like to eat a lot of fried food. But on the vegan end of the spectrum in the last couple of years there started to be what feels like a Nicaraguan explosion but it’s like four things. In Managua, we’ve got a vegan group. We’ve got a market where some vegans are now starting to sell, homemade vegans, like Seitan-type meats. A market that sells vegan ice creams. We don’t have convenience food. So everything’s handmade.
We have a couple of gringo businesses that are vegetarian vegan here, but not a 100%. They can veganize stuff but our location is the only 100% vegan place. There was a great place in the lagoon up near Granada before, that was 100% vegan but due to the political crisis and then Covid, they couldn’t make it. But the husband of the team comes here to do massages, so I love to support him. We can get tofu. There’s a place in the Reus town I mentioned, I get tofu deliveries. I have to meet them, at the church in the park every Friday. I have to drive half an hour to get it. We can get chickpeas that they grow here. But when you go out in town, we find it very challenging because we don’t particularly like certain types of food either.
Brighde: Yeah, you don’t want just plates of french fries.
Sasha: Gimme one more portobello burger, and I’m gonna die. I actually can’t even look at them. So, there are options in town though. There’s falafel, there’s vegan sushi. There are a lot of options. So if you’re only here for a few days, you will not get sick and tired of it. You’ll be happy to see it. But if you lived here, you’d be cooking at home.
Brighde: Amazing. All right, so Sasha, this has just been so interesting. It really does sound like Nicaragua is a really great destination to do something a little bit adventurous, not easy. I mean, places like Thailand and Vietnam are just so easy to travel through now, it sounds like, a lot of fun to go to Nicaragua and explore this place as, travel used to be like before the internet was so huge and everything. So I wanna thank you so much for taking the time to be on the podcast. Before we go, would you mind sharing your Instagram handles and your websites so that people can follow along?
Sasha: Sure. My own personal Instagram is just stuff I’m doing here on the daily basic stuff here as an entrepreneur and living in Nicaragua. If people are interested, it’s @_sasha.williams_ our business, the vegan spot we’re at is called Segunda Vita. If you just put in Segunda Vita and S J D S, which is short for San Juan del Sur. That’s what we call it here. You will find it on Facebook. Segunda Vita S J D S on Instagram. Through those, you can find our cafe and our medicine bar and all that stuff. Our website is segundavidasjds.com.
Brighde: Amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time.
Sasha: Thank you so much. Hope to see you down here one day soon. Take care.
Brighde: I can’t wait.