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NICARAGUA | Sunday, 23 November 2008 | Views [2014]

Example of some restored town houses, Granada

Example of some restored town houses, Granada

So, it was time to leave Costa Rica behind for the last time. Rachel and I got a ticket from Tica bus and turned up at the bus stop half an hour before the earliest time that the bus was supposed to stop by. Just as we ordered our breakfast and coffee from the hotel next door, the Tica bus rolled up. Apologising to the waiter we scrambled for our bags and legged it. So much for the info from the agent... Apart from that our journey up through Guanacaste and into Nicaragua was surprisingly smooth. We´d decided to stay a few days in Granada again - it has something of the familiar old world about it and we really liked it. In the end we ended up staying a week.

Of course, we had a trip to the labyrinthine market to buy an umbrella (central american umbrellas have twice as many spokes as European ones, and a double layer of fabric), after my fancy Costa Rican contractable one died (the automatic opening mechanism was obviously just too fancy). We also got buttons for one of Rachel´s shirts and some Henna for her hair - I´m not sure if we could go more diverse than that (Rachel spent much of that night in the shower with an egg in her hair....). Of course, we also sampled, and re-sampled rather a large number of cafes and restaurants, including one which was allegedly the site of a failed firing squad for William Walker (something to do with loading the wrong ammo or something), after which he escaped and burned the city down.  There´s a lesson in there somewhere....

Rachel´´s gone auburn again

We also got in some culture - yea, that´s right, in the form of a contemporary dance festival at the city´s art centre. It wasn´t bad, although there was at least one dancer who fancied himself just a bit too much. We also explored the only antiques shop in town - a veritable den of massive old hardwood furniture and a rather eclectic collection of religious sculptures. Great if you buy one of the big town houses and need some colonial furniture to fill it. Talking of which, does anyone want to give me 130K so that I can buy one? :) Oh go on, please. You can visit.

We did the tourist thang and took a boat around the hundreds of Islets in the lake. Each one is actually a rather large ex-bit of Mombotombo - the volcano next to Granada. That´s one powerful explosion. They´re now being bought up by the great and the good (the owners of Flor de Cana rum have a rather nice pad on one), and the tasteless (one of the islands appears to have a huge Chinese castle on it - eh?). We saw the monkeys on monkey island (put there by a vet, apparently - except there isn´t enough food on it, so they rely on boatmen feeding them - fantastic), and explored a fort put in to protect Granada from...rampaging English pirates. What, again!? The sneaky gits apparently sailed up the Rio San Juan from the Carribean, across Lake Nicaragua and sacked the city. Damn, we must have been popular in the Americas 400 years ago...

Eyeyeye! Those pesky Ingles pirates...

We also took the opportunity to visit Masaya, a large town north of Granada famed as a centre for artesanias (traditional crafts). The bus station we arrived in was a large incredibly littered field with literally dozens of buses parked higgledy piggledy and numerous hawkers trying to sell drinks and snacks to bus passengers travelling to the four winds. The chaos might have been organised, but we weren´t party to it. We weaved our way through the massive neighbouring market and eventually found our way out to a taxi. The artesania market was interesting, but actually a little disappointing. Although the leather goods here were really nicely made, they were let down by silly things like cheap buckles, and the famed wicker furniture from this region was hardly in evidence. Good if you wanted tasteful ornaments to take home - breast-shaped mug anyone? Still, I got a t-shirt for two quid.

We eventually packed our bags and got ready to leave for the Island of Ometepe.  You could stay in Granada for a long time. Some people may say its touristy, but its actually still a city in its own right, going about its business independant of foreigner visitors. Myself, I don´t mind seeing historical buildings being looked after properly, and I certainly don´t mind a decent macchiato or a chicken and chorizo in red wine every now and then...

View our Granada gallery here:


Tags: granada, las isletas, masaya


About rachel_and_daniel

Argh!  Well, maybe not pirates this time, but dig the colour-coordinated bandanas!

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