No plan is the best plan when traveling solo. You hear it over and over while traveling, but a lot of times this is easier said than done. Showing up to a new place with zero plan is difficult for many of us. It’s hard to show up and trust that everything is going to work out the way it should, but my time in Matagalpa, Nicaragua reminded me of this beautiful concept. How choosing to let go of the plan, let go of the “should,” has amazing outcomes and holds lessons you’d never expect.
Arriving in Matagalpa, Nicaragua
About a four to five-hour bus ride Northeast of Granada, Matagalpa is in the coffee hills of Nicaragua and is a lesser-known area among tourists. It feels a bit like you’ve stepped into a different country with lush rolling hills in the landscape and an overall different mentality from the locals, compared to southern Nicaragua.
I planned to visit Matagalpa to stay in a specific hostel and ecolodge outside of the city in the mountains called Finca Musica del Bosque. A friend I met traveling had been working at the hostel before coming to Ometepe and suggested I visit during my travels, given how much I loved Zopilote
The small hostel fills up quickly and offers a special experience, from what I’ve heard, so I needed to book ahead of time. As my trip continues, I’ve been hesitant to plan because every time I do it always changes – something unexpected comes my way and I abandon the initial plan. This time was no different.
I booked two nights with this hostel and would stay one night in Matagalpa’s city center, moving to the mountains the next day. I should have known that first evening in Matagalpa that my plans would change when I reconnected with two friends I’d met my first night in Granada.
An Unexpected Turn
The next morning, as I sat writing and drinking my coffee the guys invited me on a day trip to Reserva de Pinas Blancas, a beautiful waterfall further north in the mountains. It takes at least three hours to get there by bus but this adventure, unlike all of my other travel, was going to be by car. I jumped at the opportunity without even thinking, canceled my plans, and an hour later was on another totally unexpected, random journey.
The day didn’t include anything we’d set out to do initially, but I explored a part of Nicaragua I’d never have seen on my own. I went to areas of the country, deep in the mountains that are completely void of any tourists. I visited small towns where I was the only white girl for miles and nobody speaks English. The unexpected events, and to have the chance to do something I’d never do on my own but instead do with new friends, is what made the day so beautiful for me. It’s days like this that makes not having a plan when you travel so amazing.
It was late in the afternoon when we realized that our initial plan wasn’t going to happen. As we made our way back to Matagalpa, we stopped at the touristy but beautiful Cascada Blanca and eventually spent the night at Selva Negra.
It was a short but sweet 36 hours with new friends and the next day we parted ways. My adventure in Matagalpa was a strong reminder that continuing to follow “wants” instead of “shoulds” is what’s most important. It’s what creates more growth and leads to more enriched experiences.
It’s not easy to let go of our expectations and roll with the punches that come our way, to simply show up with only our wants and leaving our shoulds behind us. It’s something I’ve started to work on a lot over the last few years, especially recently and especially on this trip, but it continues to be a struggle. So easily when we travel, and in life in general, do we get wrapped up in the things we should be doing instead of following our intuition and simply doing what will make us most happy.
I’d like to thank Matagalpa and this adventure for the important reminder.