Nicaragua: A Paradise Poised for Discovery

Children at the Masaya market.
Children at the Masaya market.

TODAY NICARAGUA TRAVEL – Yvan Cussigh came to Nicaragua in the most circuitous way—after fantasizing about Costa Rica for 25 years. As a young man, he’d been given a Costa Rican five-colón note by a friend and was captivated by the bill’s bucolic scene of farmers and fishermen—as if Brueghel had painted in the tropics. “It was so beautiful, and I thought, one day I’m going to go there,” explains the Italian-born, Swiss-raised Cussigh as he fishes out the sacred talisman from his wallet to show me.

After that, Cussigh, who ran New York City nightlife spots such as Bar d’O and the rooftop bar at 60 Thompson, spent years vacationing in Costa Rica.

During one torrential visit in 2008, he asked his travel agent to book him a cheap ticket to somewhere dry, and soon enough he found himself in Nicaragua, in the picturesque, if slightly faded, colonial town of Granada. Its old-world charms—tree-filled plazas, cobblestoned streets, prominent churches, a promenade overlooking Lake Nicaragua, the country’s biggest lake—enchanted him immediately.

“It wasn’t just the perfectly painted pastel houses,” he says. “It was the old ladies who’d pull their rocking chairs onto the sidewalk and watch the street life. It reminded me of my own grandmother back in Italy.”

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