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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Cultural Granada

NICARAGUA | Friday, 24 August 2007 | Views [3174]

            Today was my 4th day in Central America and second in Nicaragua. I woke up refreshed at 6:30 AM because I fell asleep early last night. I washed up and then got breakfast at the hostel kitchen. I ate pancakes, a banana, cantaloupe, pineapple, and this local fruit called a pitaya. While eating, I met a young man named Chad. He, like Analisa, is living here for awhile. Nicaragua’s currency is the córdoba, and breakfast was 35 córdobas (about $2). I decided last night that I wanted to visit Volcán Mombacho. I then started heading in that direction. All of the street vendors were out already selling fruit and everything else you could think of. I took a photo of a man shining shoes and tipped him two córdobas. I went to the Shell Station where the bus stop was located, but I couldn’t find it, so I took a taxi instead. However, it ended up costing 260 córdobas! (about $15). At Volcán Mombacho, I got a ticket for the entrance fee and the transport to the top of the volcano. I was able to hop in the back of a pickup truck (which is illegal back home) and go up. It was about a 20 minute ride to the top and it was very scenic. Volcán Mombacho is dormant and has four craters. I went inside the Volcán Mombacho Biological Station and the ranger told me about the various trails. I chose to walk the La Cráter trail. The ranger, who spoke very good English, showed me the map and I began my exploratory trek. I was at an altitude of 1,150 meters and it was noticeably cooler than in Granada. I went into this one area that was kind of like a tunnel or a very narrow hallway, and got a few photos. I then stopped at several lookouts, but it was very cloudy. At one point, I peered down into the crater. The trail was abounding with plant life and it all looked so unique. I got photos of myself with the clouds and the volcano in the background. I kept walking and visited an area with a fumarole. I smelled sulfur, but it was nowhere near as bad as Iceland or New Zealand. The trail is really something to be reckoned with! I walked the whole La Cráter trail in only a half hour. Also on the trail, I took pictures of some of the signs because they’re all in Spanish. This way I can interpret them later. However, I know more Spanish than before I left home. The truck wasn’t coming back to the top of the volcano for another hour, so I got some water and began walking down. It was a steep descent and I saw various types of butterflies and this creature that was white and looks like a squirrel, but it could have been a monkey! I tried to zoom in to get photos of the butterflies, but my camera isn’t good for zooming, and like I’ve said I’m bad with wildlife photography. I wanted to visit the coffee plantation situated on the slope of the volcano, but I had passed it so I walked back up the hill a bit. I went inside the house and sampled some coffee and got some cookies. These young boys then offered to show me the growing coffee. The beans were green and not ready yet. I’ll tell you a little about coffee. It is grown best at middle altitudes rather than at sea level, and the taste is strongly influenced by the type of soil it is grown in. In fact, there are many coffees in Central and South America that are grown on the slopes of volcanoes. I thanked the boys and I kept walking down. I realized that they have a canopy tour here, but I kept walking until the bus pulled up. I hitched a ride back to the bottom of the hill. I was almost to the bottom anyways. I hung around for a minute and a park ranger gave me a ride back to the main road. The taxi drivers were bugging me, but I wanted to take a bus. I got a bottle of water and then waited a few minutes for the bus. I got on and I had to be the only tourist on it; it was all locals. The ride was only 6 córdobas! And I paid 260 córdobas for the taxi ride. I got off at the Shell Station and took a few photos of the “school bus.” They have bike racks on the roof. One thing I’ve noticed out here is that the bus moves while people are putting their bicycles on the roof and they have to climb down the ladder and get in the back while the bus is moving. THAT is scary!! Anyways, I browsed around the fruit stands and got two bananas and some Ritz crackers. Then, I went back to the hostel and relaxed for a bit and I asked Chad about places where I could get good photos of Granada and Volcán Mombacho. He told me about the La Porvola Fort. After awhile, I headed on up there. I began walking until this nice Nicaraguan man named Alan offered to show me the fort. Chad also told me I should check out Parque Xalteva. We passed that and went into the fort. Alan talked about the cannon and told me that during the Somoza regime, people were rounded up here, taken to other places and executed. It’s very sad! Alan then showed me some painting that all had something representing a woman’s body. They were very interesting. I got a few photos and then we went up to one of the turrets. I was able to get the perfect shot of Volcán Mombacho. I also took a few photos of the city and we went back down. Alan told me that all the old churches were built north of Calle Real Xalteva because during colonial times, the Spanish settlers lived north of Calle Real Xalteva, and the natives lived on the south side of the street. Alan then offered to show me the cemetery, but I wasn’t interested. I tipped him 20 córdobas and thanked him and told him to praise Jesus. He responded that Jesus Christ is his Lord and savior; just like mine. I have to tell you that I’m very proud of Latin Americans, because even though they have little money, they enjoy life and live it to the fullest. Alan even told me that rich people often have a hard time sleeping because they think too much about their money. I then saw a barber shop and decided to get my haircut. The girl only took about 10 minutes and it was only 50 córdobas (about $2.90). It would cost me four times that back home. This way, I look better in my photos. I also tipped the girl 10 córdobas. By the way, one córdoba is equal to 100 centavos and the symbol for córdoba is C$. I then walked up to the old church because I wanted a view from the top. Alan told me earlier that the church’s façade is charred black because of a fire that happened about 80 years ago. I went inside and paid 20 córdobas to go up to the top. The way up was a spiral staircase and I walked past the bells and up to the highest area. There was no guardrail and I had to watch my every move. Just like at Kings Canyon (Australia), one false move and I would have been a goner. I relaxed for a few minutes and got some really great shots of Granada. It really is a beautiful city! I then went back down and rung the bell before leaving. I got lost trying to find my way back to the hostel. I relaxed there for a few minutes and asked Analisa if she was interested in going out to dinner tonight, but she said she was going to a friend’s house for dinner tonight. I really wanted to check out Lake Nicaragua, so I began to walk in that direction. First, I stopped for a hot dog, which was quite good, although with my poor Spanish speaking skills, I had trouble telling the girl that I wanted it plain. I then kept walking and asked about renting a bike, but I decided not to. I then got an ice cream and walked up to the lake. There were children fishing with a large net, and I tipped them a few córdobas to photograph them. I relaxed for a bit and then started back. I wanted to catch one of the horse-drawn carriages, but I had just missed one and I didn’t see any others. I walked and stopped for a few postcards and then walked past the bright and colorful cathedral, which is painted bright yellow. When I was on top of the church earlier, I noticed that Granada looks a bit like Florence, Italy (although I’ve never been to Florence) with the roofs all one color, and the cathedral, which looks like the Duomo. I wanted dinner at Jimmy’s Rib Shack, which I saw on my map, so I walked through the

Central Square
and stopped at the restaurant and did a quick look at their menu, deciding to come back later. I walked past that church and people were ringing the bell like crazy! I only rang it once when I was up there. Back at the hostel, I was talking with this cute girl named Patricia, who is from Spain. I asked her if she’d be interested in dinner and she said sure. She was writing in her journal as well. By then, I really needed a shower because it is so humid and I’ve been walking all day; there I stunk! I rented a towel for $1 and jumped in the shower, which is a cold shower. I have to get used to cold showers because I’m probably going to encounter many times on my travels where I’m going to be forced to take a cold shower. I washed my clothes in the process because they were dirty. I felt so much better afterward. I then sat with Patricia for a bit, and we agreed to leave for dinner at about 6:30. In the meantime, I checked my email and got one from Nora. She told me to always keep my passport tucked inside my shirt, which I always do! In other places I’ve traveled, I didn’t have to do that, but out here I watch my stuff like a hawk. At 6:30, Patricia and I set out. She has been to Cuba, and I really want to go there before Fidel Castro dies. Someone told her there that once Castro is gone, the country will become globalized with McDonald’s, Starbucks, etc. My geography professor, Dr. Warren Bland, wants to go the same thing. I’m going to have to draft a plan very, very soon because there are rumors floating around that Castro is already dead. At the restaurant, it is a very nice atmosphere. For dinner, I ate baby-back ribs, fries, a salad, and garlic bread, while Patricia got a salad and a glass of wine, and we shared the garlic bread. For dessert, I got a brownie topped with ice cream and also had a glass of red wine. While we were eating, the power went out because a big rain and lightning storm hit all of a sudden. There are times when the entire city is without power. Our hostel has a very loud generator for this reason. As a result it was a very nice candlelight dinner. I even told Patricia that I was attracted to her. I told her about my travels and how I was enjoying my time with her. The dinner for both of us was only C$435 ($23). In Iceland, that didn’t even buy me fish & chips. At 7:30, we started walking back and it was pitch black out. We had to be careful because it can be dangerous walking out here at night. I agreed earlier to show Patricia my travel photos, so I did that when we got back to the hostel. I told her a lot about Iceland, Australia, and all the places I’ve been. One of her favorite countries is New Zealand; another place I love with all my heart. I saw her photos as well, and she’s been to many of the same places I’ve been! I even recognized a bridge that I took a photo of on the way to Parramatta in Australia (my first trip). I then gave Dad a call and gave him my flight info. He said he’d pick me up when I get home because I have school the following morning. I have to bring him home some coffee. I then got back on the computer and hung out with Patricia. Tomorrow I’m heading back to Costa Rica; only a few more days left of my trip! I don’t want to leave! Nicaragua is a third-world country, but it’s a first-world country in my eyes. I then sat with Patricia for awhile and she decided to go to sleep. At midnight I called it a night because I want to be up bright and early. See you tomorrow!

Tags: Culture

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