Nicknamed the "City of Flowers" and the "Cradle of Nicaraguan Folklore," Masaya, Nicaragua's third most populous city, is a bustling and highly colorful metropolis located between Granada and the capital of Managua.
Looking at Masaya, you wouldn't imagine that it sits at the base of a highly active volcano. Life there moves at a dizzying pace that is not too dissimilar from any major urban center. Bright and early in the morning, parents commute to their jobs or to the market to buy ingredients for the day's meals.
Children, looking elegant if not uncomfortable, in their starched white and navy uniforms head off to the local schools, where they eagerly await the chance to whip out their phones and play games during recess.
While you can get by on US Dollars alone, Masaya has its own breed of coyotes. Look for the gentlemen wearing the burgundy pants or vests and be prepared to haggle. Once you've got your Cordobas in order, consider buying a lottery ticket or two. If you win big you could make this tropical metropolis your new retirement home.
Wherever you need to go in Masaya, you'll have several options for transportation. Brightly colored mototaxis will get you there the fastest, weaving in and out of traffic at breakneck speeds to the tune of Reggaeton radio stations. If you don't mind the slower pace, you can always hitch a ride on a horse-drawn wagon.
The cultural and gastronomical heart of Masaya is the Parque Central. Music often pours from the speakers of local restaurants, broken only by the tolling of the church's bells. Street vendors sell everything from refreshing ice cream and popsicles to helium balloons.
The Parque has something for everyone. Swingsets, slides, and merry-go-rounds keep the youngsters occupied while grandma and grandpa get to relax on one of the many park benches beneath the comforting shade of the trees.
Masaya is undoubtedly a busy place. Car horns echo out among the narrow streets, vendors shout out the prices of their wares, and at times it can be a little overwhelming. But if you take the time to appreciate it, you'll find that Masaya will start to feel small, quiet, and like a new home.