Granada - The city of bright colors
Sep 24, 2008
Granada is definitely one our favorite cities yet...hence our planting here for 4 1/2 days (a nice change from moving around so much). Granada is Nicaragua´s golden egg for tourism with colonial charm and lots of great places to stay + eat. The city is made up of brightly colored restored adobe buildings (the city was torched by Amer William Walker in 1856), elegant churches, a buzzing plaza and Parque Central, and is located to several nearby attractions that keep visitors busy. Our one word here was easy...it just had to be "colorful" as all you see are the bright buildings in every direction!
Most of our time was spent walking the city central or relaxing at our fabulous hostel! It was pouring rain on our arrival here by ferry + taxi, so we were lucky to land at our best hostel yet on our 1st attempt - with a large open courtyard, pool, comfy lounging areas, and free/fast internet (as I´m sure most of you have noticed)!
Days were dedicted to walking-walking-walking around town with several stops at must-see attractions. Some of the highlights were....
-- the famous Convento y Iglesia de San Francisco and Museum filled with ancient religious artifacts and carved sculptures dating all the way back to AD 800-122 - absolutely incredible to see stuff that old!
-- climbing the bell tower of Iglesia de La Merced and overlooking the entire city - the views were breathtaking and we could see all the colorful buildings
-- scouring the nearby residental neighborhood for the famous nacatamale lady, Dona Chepa, where we purchased right out of her home. What is a nacatamele you ask? Larger and w/ more ingredients than a Mexican tamale; consists of masa a type of corn meal w/ spices; topped w/ relleno (pork or chicken), veggies and mint leaves; wrapped in plantain leaves, tied and steamed cooked. It´s quite interesting to say the least. (As you can see we´ve been quite daring and tried several traditional foods of Central America. Some good, some not so good.)
-- a visit to Casa de los Tres Mundos Foundation, residence + workspace for the cities best artists. Here we met two Nica artists and got to see a backroom full of several beautiful oil canvases
-- the busy, dirty, stinky marketplace filled with anything from food to plain ol´crap
-- and strolling the city streets to take in the color + architecture, which is sometimes the best part!
A more interesting event of the trip was a tour to Mercade Viejo in Masaya, Nicaragua´s epicenter of artesanians; and Parque Naciaonal Volcan Masaya, a pair of volcanoes which together comprise of 5 craters. Crater Santiago was quite active blowing lots of smoke and steaming red gases - it was both scary and cool at the same time. In fact, there was so much smoke and sulfer we had to wear gas masks. As it grew dark we further toured a bat cave where thousands of bats flew out of right over our heads (yes...creepy, but cool!), and went 200 meters back into a lava tunnel. Our guide was super and explained the rich history behind these volcanoes and caves - ancient indigenous considered them sacred places for their gods, while Spanish conquistadors called them "gates of hell". We´re going with the indigenous on this one!
It was in the great city of Granada that we experienced our 1st major power outtage for quite some time - this was due to the heavy rain. All we can say is...it sure helps to have a hostel that you enjoy spending time in at times like these b/c you are shit out of luck! There is no PG+E handy to quickly fix stuff in these countries that´s for sure!
Next we are off to Guatemala....