Tame a chocoyo while waiting for your pescado frito

Simple but clean; straightforward. That's how you want your pescado frito--your fried fish--when on the coast of Nicaragua. And, while here, learn the local word for small parrots: "chocoyos."

My wife and I looked up Pastora, a friend-of-a-friend, in Poneloya, about a half-hour away from the colonial city of León. Nothing fancy here on this hot stretch of Central American beach--but FRESH and friendly. While we waited for the day's catch to cook, Pastora's normally ornery small green parrot took an interest in us. We were warned that the chocoyo was often ill-tempered, but we ended up making a feathered friend.

Warm smiles accompany the unpretentious food on the cash-only menu here. Rice, fried plantains, shredded cabbage, a lime and a slice of tomato come along with the fish, with a fork all ready-to-go...

Drive west from León--or take a bus; they leave about every 30 minutes. You'll find no big resorts in Poneloya, but this is where Nicaraguans come for ocean breezes and seafood. March and April are the hottest months, and the Easter season is always crowded...

To find Pastora's fish-shack, or 'rancho,' head to the northern end of Poneloya and you'll find a group of open-air-eateries huddled around a cove. Tune your ears to the local accent, meet the fishermen--get a taste of la vida nica...

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