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Puerto Diaz

On your way to the little fishing village on the eastern shores of Lake Nicaragua, panoramic views of Volcán Mombacho and Ometepe Island frame the open pasture and fresh-water marsh. Along the road, people are out and about doing any number of daily tasks: collecting firewood, preparing for a cross-community trip, or searching for the rogue cow on horseback. Wide-eyed children stare unabashedly at foreigners before cheerfully returning a friendly wave. 

The town itself exists like an island: a few dozen humble homes occupy a rock outcropping that separates them both geographically and culturally from the rest of the region. Most of the Chontales region, and much of the east side of the lake, is based on a cattle economy, while Puerto Díaz and other small fishing towns that dot the shores earn a living on the water.

Making the trek to this side of the lake is a grand opportunity to meander off the beaten trail. Leaving the highway in Juigalpa and bouncing the 20 kilometers down the dirt road towards the port town is like entering a separate plane of existence. 

Puerto Díaz is proud of its fish and the two main restaurants happily offer heaping portions of greasy, fried lake fish served with icy drinks. While there is little in the way of tourist infrastructure (according to some, that’s the best part of Puerto Díaz) a boat trip along the shores and into some of the nearby creeks can be arranged, and is a great opportunity to explore the unexplored. Visitors should realize that anyone giving you a ride on the water is most likely giving up their work time, and should be compensated accordingly. 

If time does not allow for exploration by boat, there are a number of paths and trails that crisscross away from town, up gentle hills and into hidden mango groves. The inhabitants are extremely knowledgeable about the local natural history, and, if prompted politely, are more than willing to impart their wisdom. Whether you decide to trail-tromp or spend some time chatting with the locals, Puerto Díaz is rife with adventure for the intrepid traveler.

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