WE WERE entering our 16th hour of travel aboard our fourth mode of transportation (car, plane, bus, four-wheel drive), bumping along on a Ford- Explorer-in-Jurassic-Park-type ride through a dark, muddy passage so narrow that you could reach out and touch the sides of the cliff walls, when the obvious question popped into my head: Where in the hell are we going?
Considering how many miles my nine SI colleagues and I had logged that day, hell might have seemed a reasonable guess. But the destination, I was assured, would be more like heaven—Morgan's Rock, an environmentally friendly hacienda on Nicaragua's Pacific coast, which has become the new Costa Rica, which replaced Belize, which had supplanted Guatemala as the Next Big Thing in Central American hot spots. "You may think Morgan's Rock is at the end of the world," our guide from the lodge told us one more time, "but you will love it."
Indeed, this remote lodge three hours south of Managua will win the heart of any traveler hoping to kick back and just plain chill, as much as one can chill in temperatures that regularly hover around 80�. Artfully constructed to minimally impact the tropical dry forest in which it sits, the lodge's 15 sexy bungalows dot the hillside facing the crescent-shaped bay just a short walk away. At night guests fall asleep to the sound of Pacific waves crashing on the rocks, and in the morning they awaken to the shrieks of the appropriately named howler monkeys, among the many creatures on the property that make a stay at Morgan's Rock akin to a five-star night in the jungle.
What makes the lodge unusual, however, is its commitment to the ecosystem. Solar panels are used to heat the water. Almost 90% of the food is produced on the property or caught in the bay. Guests are asked for their dinner order at breakfast so the kitchen can avoid waste.
Of course, the lodge is not for everyone, like those who need constant cellphone and Internet service, a television, a hopping bar scene or great shopping—or those who easily jump at the sight of a spider, snake or scorpion. "We recommend shaking out your clothes, towels, linens and shoes before using them," guests are warned. I'd add shower curtains as well.
But those are just minor inconveniences in the Morgan's Rock experience, which is just heavenly—once you get there.