Saturday, January 18, 2014

Granada, Nicaragua

Buenas dias de Granada!
Granada. One mention of the town and Nicaraguans smile and tell you of the beauty of the colonial town. The guidebook described it as "photographic elegance with postcard scenes around every corner". My expectations were high. I was not disappointed. I always appreciate bright colors, horse drawn carts and cobblestone streets.

Granada is a beautiful colonial city with a large expat population. But with all of this came much higher prices. Ouch! Gone were the cheap days of Leon! We walked to the Parque Centro with locals selling food, souvenoirs and watching the tourists.
Carriages were lined down the street waiting to take tourists on tours of the city for $28.
Granada is an easy city to walk or ride bikes. Biking seemed to be the easiest way for locals to get around the city. It was common to see men peddling their wives, girlfriends, friends or children around town.
I was spending the days before and after New Years in Granada. We walked the city exploring the city, peaking into the courtyards of hotels and eating.

Granada has many old colonial churches and beautiful homes with courtyard swimming pools. I loved the bright colors of the homes and restaurants and spent time walking and photographing the area.
The market was full of hustle and bustle with everything from fruits to shoes, clothing and electronics.
As I walked the market men reached out to grab my arm and pull me back. Then asked for money. I decided I was not interested in spending too much time here. I moved on.

I have a soft spot for the animals. We forget that many cultures do not spay and neuter their animals. The large expat community has been successful in getting many of the animals veterinary care and spaying/neutering the dogs and cats. I am a sucker for the dogs and find myself photographing them everywhere I visit. One morning on my walk, I came across this dog and his owners.
They greeted me and I went over to say hello. They laughed when I introduced myself as Michelle. They looked at one another and asked "Your name is Chelle? Same as dog? " I realized they named their white dog Chelle which means white person. They thought it was funny that my parents named me white person. I laughed and went along with the joke. Why not? I laughed and agreed that I was like their dog.
I continued my journey to another church. Music was playing inside and I entered along the side door. A man came over to me and took me to a seat. I sat looking at the artwork and ceiling of the church. Oblivious to the service. Eventually, I looked up and realized there was a casket in the aisle. No! Not again! I liked around and noticed several people were looking at the tourist with a camera around my neck sitting in a pew. I am an idiot! I got up and left. Why do I do these things?!?!? As I exited the front of the church I saw the hearse. How did I miss that? 
I walked up to it and looked at it. Wow! This was a beautifully carved carriage. It made a statement. The owner walked over and we chatted in my limited Spanish. He told me it had been in his family for 4 generations. I told him it was beautiful.

I returned to the hotel and met up with the McCrosky's for our planned activity, kayaking Las Isletas. Hundreds of small islands had formed in Lake Nicaragua after the eruption of Mombacho Volcano and earthquakes that followed. We took a short cab ride to the entrance where we hired Luis, a local guide, to take us around the Isletas. The area was stunning and serene. We paddled around the islands as Luis pointed out the flora and fauna of the area. I was impressed with the cleanliness of the water. No trash. We paddled for an hour and he stopped at a school where we could swim in the water. We parked our kayaks and jumped into the water. It felt fantastic! Steve, Christy and I floated. Relaxing in the water and watching the locals passing in boats. Ahhhh! This is living! We returned to our kayaks and paddled back to the kayak center. We thanked Luis and he walked us to a local restaurant where we feasted on fresh fish. Mmmm! 

We returned to town and Christy and I had massage appointments at Pure. It had been a long time since I had a massage. I relaxed as my muscles were massaged and all the tension and soreness from traveling left my body. I was ready to enjoy the New Year's Eve celebration in Granada! 

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