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The Tinsel Dinner Series: Granada, Nicaragua

'Tis the season for dinner parties, and we've been having a blast connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs in New York City. This fall, we packed our suitcases with swimsuits and took the show on the road. Destination: Granada, Nicaragua. Sí, claro.

Step 1: Find a jaw-dropping venue, complete with good looks and delicious food. In Granada, there was no shortage of picturesque spaces to host our dinner party. After sorting out a few options we and our friends at El Camino settled on gorgeous café and restaurant on Calle Real Xalteva called Café Espressionista. With its historic architectural details and super charming host and owner Andreas Lazar, Café Espressionista served as a beautiful backdrop and meeting place for our travel companions and the guests of honor: two local social entrepreneurs that are focused on bringing solar power to remote communities in Nicaragua, Carla and Sonia

Carla Estrada and Sonia Diaz of Grid Alternatives spoke to us about their experiences throughout the country, working to bring solar technology to communities that would not otherwise have access to electricity, providing a sustainable source of energy that's safe for the environment and also prepares families and workers for jobs in the fast-growing solar industry. Their upcoming project for the new year, Women in Solar: El Guaylo, Esteli,  brings together a team of local volunteers to install an off-grid photovoltaic system in a primary school: "As part of GRID's Women in Solar Initiative, this project gives Nicaraguan women interested in working in the growing renewable energy industry... a chance to gain experience.... While there are many universities with renewable energy programs in Nicaragua, hands-on training opportunities are very rare." 

Carla, who grew up in Nicaragua, shared with us the local landscape of the tech and science field–especially from the perspective of a Nicaraguan woman entering a field with a vast majority of men. Sonia outlined her own personal experience as an American visiting Nicaragua for the first time on vacation, falling in love with the culture and people, and later, finding the right opportunity to be of service with her work at GRID.

We ate a delicious dinner with them. We asked them a hundred questions. It was a night to exchange ideas and exchange contacts. And of course, we made sure it all looked beautiful. We sourced all the materials and décor from local shops and markets. The menus, were handwritten for each of the guests on postcards showcasing the colorful signature buildings of Granada.

Centerpieces were kept minimal and authentic to the Nicaraguan aesthetic. Mix-and-match table place settings added to the charm of the space, and local fruits and foliage were used to adorn the center of the table and complement the menu. And just like Granada, we were not shy with the use of color.

Can you tell this cold winter weather's got us craving another trip to Central America? We met so many amazing people doing incredible things for the world, and it seemed like the trip was all too short. Para los hispanohablantes, you can find more information on Carla and Sonia's efforts here. For everyone else that has any questions or would like to find ways to get involved, feel free to reach out to us, and we'll be more than happy to make the connection.

And on another note, if you're loving (and drooling over) all our stories about Nicaragua and would like to experience it for yourself (and even meet Carla and Sonia in person), you can find more information for upcoming trips in 2015 here. Plus, if you mention us, there's a bit of a VIP discount for you... and we've got first-hand experience and photographic proof that you'll have an amazing time.

Con el sol y todas las sonrisas,
TINSEL + compañeros