Wake up fairly early and down for breakfast – pineapple, oranges, and toast and tea. Back and pack up all our stuff and off to the lobby. Chat with the owner (as well as we could in Spanish and English) and she told of a tsunami that flooded the hotel 20 years ago – but the adobe walls – two feet thick – kept things secure.
Our transport showed up right at 9:00 and we piled in. Another 10 or so folks from all around were on the van as well. We drove for about three hours through Managua (where a Myan kid washed our windshield) and into Granada, where we were dropped off at Hotel Glifoos – “the yellow one.” We were expected and shown right to our room and took in our stuff. Found out there was no hot water and no desk – and a strange picture in the combination bathroom/shower/sink room. And no AC but a nice ceiling fan. Interesting place.
After a bit we walked the two blocks to central park and looked for some place to eat. Lots of hawkers selling things from cookies to hammocks. We stopped at one place but it was taking so long we left and went to a place in the park. Approached by many vendors – and a guy with a guitar came and sang to us. We did finally get lunch – chicken and rice – which was really good! I accidentally set off the timer on the camer and it counted down – then a starling in a nearby tree imitated the sound! The man who was cleaning the park was pulling a wagon with wooden wheels.
Then we chatted about what to do and decided on a town tour by carriage. As we decided on which horses looked the healthiest we were approached by a driver who had good English and explained the tour – so off we went (Manuel was his name). We drove through town to the old train station – there is no longer a railroad in Nicaragua – since the 1990s – as one of the former presidents sold the trains to the Chinese and declared the railroad defunct – so folks took up all the old rails for scrap and now all that is left is this engine and some old train cars.
Then past Poet’s Park, down Hero’s Street (for the martyrs of the Sandinista revolution), past the old hospital (destroyed by an earthquake), past the old Spanish fort (which Captain Morgan captured at one time and took all the ammunition). We were held up by a tank truck watering he plants in the center of the street – quite a nice touch as flowers and bushes in the center of most streets.
Then we stopped by William Walker’s house – where the infamous carpetbagger in the 1850s tried to become president of Nicaragua and all of Central America. It was also the oldest house in the city. Then back to Central Park and goodbye to Manuel.
Back to the hotel and arrange a nature tour through the hotel. We had about half an hour so tried to refresh but the tour guy (Kevin) showed up early – so off we went.
First down to the docks outside of town and onto a boat for 20 – but we were the only two. The lake was quite choppy and windy so we did a “reverse route” to stay out of the wind as much as possible. The lake was filled with small islands – based on rocks thrown into the lake thousands of years ago by an eruption of Volcano Mumbacho. They were (and still are – partly) inhabited by indigenous people.
We were looking for animals – birds first – and after a bit Kevin had the boat stop at a tree and showed us a flower used in the indigenous weddings as they smelled quite sweet. They would eventually grow into a fruit about the size of a coconut that was not really editable.
We did eventually see a number of quite interesting birds – many white herons and cormorants – both very common – and several ospreys. We also spotted a snake neck heron, bower birds, kingfishers and a few others. There were also fishermen on the lake.
The islands were quite interesting in that some were “parks” you could spend the day at (and swim), some were private homes of very rich people (one had its own helicopter pad), and poor places where indigenous people lived.
We eventually came to a large island and spotted a couple troops of howler monkeys – adults and babies. They weren’t interested in us so went about their business as if we weren’t there. We passed a boat load of fishermen who were quite friendly – then came to “Monkey Island,” where two previous pet monkeys had been set loose – one white faced and one spider monkey. They still had chains on their necks. Kevin told us that the local restaurant feeds them as well as many tourist boats.
We were driven back to town and said our goodbyes, stopped in the hotel for a bit, then headed out to visit the Church of Mary the Merciful, La Merced. For a dollar we could walk up the circular stairway to the bell tower and look out over the city. You could see quite some ways – out to the lake, well inland, and the volcano. Of interest was a peek at the interior plazas that each house had. Fronts were quite close to the street but there was a garden inside each one.
Then down to Central Park again for dinner and stopped in the place we had walked out on at lunch. I ordered Mama’s Chicken Milaneson – which turned out to be one huge chicken nugget flattened out and some French fries. Kitty got some avocado toasts and a nice chicken dish with corn stuffing. The music at the place was so loud it drowned out the calls of the starlings nesting in the park! It was really a place for rich spring break kids it seemed.
Then off to Eskimo for some ice cream and cake. My feet had gotten quite sore so we stopped in at a small shop selling it seemed pretty much everything and asked for socks – and they had them! I hope they make my feet feel batter as bad feet are not the best to travel with!
Back to the room. It was so small I had to go out to the (closed) restaurant to do this stuff on the computer. For a “travel” day we sure got a lot in!