I met Patricio, my guide, early the next day after his police encounter the afternoon before. Patricio was resigned to the way things are here in Nicaragua, and neither of us discussed it. We spent the morning walking around the old historic city and central plaza. Next, we met our city guide in a horse drawn carriage and continued to see other historic sites. Then she met up with her teenage son, who replaced her, and he took us several miles out along a boulevard running along the shoreline of Lake Nicaragua, the largest lake in Central America. I soon learned it is the only lake in the world with sharks. That is easy to understand, as the continents we know came from a narrow strip of land mass, and millions of years ago there was an open ocean, teeming with sharks, when volcanoes began creating a connection between North and South America.
We saw a small boat with a captain waiting for us on a small dock, and off we went in his long, narrow motor boat. After the hot, humid weather in Leon and Granada, being on the water was refreshing. We passed small tropical islands, most privately owned, with luxury homes. Our captain pointed out one owned by the ex-president of Honduras (a woman), then another island where the largest coffee grower in Nicaragua lived. Around these islands, a few men were diving for fish. We went to another nearby island that was home to spider and cappuccino monkeys. They were used to people feeding them, and they would swing far out on low branches, waiting for treats which they took from your hand. Another island had many moetazuma oropendula, yellow tailed tropical birds. They build sock-like nests in ceiba trees. This tree has a fruit like a date, and it is used in a drink to aid the stomach.
We walked back to town, which was about five miles. It was like walking in a desert, and we were delighted to find a place in town selling cokes. Some places in Nicaragua are very warm.
I found a tiny store with a couple of hand painted postcards. I bought them, and next I set out to find a post office. Several cobble streets closer to the central plaza was the tiniest post office, with one woman sitting down, and no customers. She got up and went behind the counter, and I wrote and mailed off the postcards. Postcard writing is a tradition that is almost extinct, and I was glad to help keep it alive a little longer.
I was ready for a break and headed off to my air conditioned room for an hour’s rest. When I emerged, Patricio was ready to take me on another walk around Granada. We went to a cocoa museum, a hammock factory, and several churches, to study their interiors and history. That evening in particular was a fun time, as we chose an outside café for dinner, in a busy area lined with restaurants and entertainment. The musicians came to the people: there was a trumpet trio, a hip-hop group of four or five young performers, a Mariachi band, and finally, to Patricio’s delight, he was able to show me La Gigantnay and El Enano – the tall woman and small man. They are famous characters of Nicaragua, and the lady walks on stilts.
Later that evening, we stopped at the Central Plaza where a large crowd was listening to poets, and winners of the International Writers Conference were reading poetry and some music lyrics. It was a safe, well-mannered crowd.
Granada was an active, busy place for visitors, whether native or international. The resorts and hotels offered a great place to rest and relax in my free time. The cities were good places to stop and sightsee when not hiking in the mountains, which were much cooler. Diversity was good and a great educational opportunity. What a blessing it is to travel and explore new places!
(posted January 16, 2018)