Trip to Granada for a night – Dec 7, 2012

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Friday we were headed for Granada to meet Kristi’s friend from Costa Rica, Alberto.  Alberto was Kristi’s family’s tour guide when they were there in 2006.  Then when Kristi was traveling through there a coup0le years ago, Alberto arranged a big beautiful mansion for her to stay in.

Our first stop when we woke up was La Union (which I found out today is owned by Walmart) to get a cell phone.  For 360 cords (Just under $15) we got a brand new phone with 250 cords worth of minutes on it. Kristi asked me if I wanted to get a case but I kind of like the idea of smashing that phone up.  It’s very modern early 2000’s.  Phones work a bit different here though… Like we can call a land line from a cell but can’t call a cell from a landline.  We got an average phone namebrand Movistar.  They also had fancier phones called Verykool that looked like crappy blackberrys.

Anyways, we grabbed a phone and headed for Quetzaltrekkers to ask about a hike we were supposed to do today and see if there was another chance to do it.  We mentioned to Ginny we were going to Granada, she said Evette was going as well so we decided we would all take the bus together.  She was in no rush and wanted lunch first, so we went around the corner to a place that’s normally pretty good. This day it wasn’t.

Kristi and I ran back to our apartment and grabbed clothes for overnight since we no longer had to rush home that night.  The time constraint would have really crushed our relaxation time.  We also would have had to stop in Managua at night which really isn’t safe.

The bus we took from the market was just a small van that held 15 people. Cramped right in there, we were on our way.

Riding a bus here is very different from home. The people working for the bus stand outside yelling where they are going “Managua-Managua-Man-a-gua!” This one doesn’t stop and pick people up because we’re full and all going to the same place and these guys drive like maniacs. Cutting into the other lane to pass slower vehicles. At one point we passed 3 trucks in one go. When we arrived in Managua at the bus loop, we were immediately hounded by people putting their heads in the window saying “taxi? taxi granada?” We pushed past them and found our way to the bus going to Granada.

This is more like the kind of bus we take, it’s long and it stops regularily to pick people up and drop them off.  Driving through Managua was very interesting.  They have McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Casinos just like home… except as white people not completely fluent in spanish, it’s not safe to visit.  One day it would be cool to hire a guide and visit there.

So back to the bus… they just honk at people, then if the people throw a hand up, they pull over.  There’s a guy at each door that will jump off to help people and jump back on. Then once you settle down, they come collect money.  It’s a very interesting system.

After about 3 hours we arrive in Granada.  We decide to go with Evette to Oasis Hostel.  We probably overpaid for our room, $20 for a private room with no private bathroom.  BUt if we had taken advantage of everything they offered, we would have been better off.  They have free internet and wifi, swimming pool and a bunch of other stuff.  We quickly checked Kristi’s fb and found where Alberto was staying.  We met up with him at his hotel about 7 minutes away and went for dinner at a Mexican Restaurant right on the main strip of Grenada.  Sitting right out on the sidewalk drinking beer, we eventually realize that we have sat down at a very fancy restaurant.  Of course the menu is in Spanish and I find one thing that I understand and am certain I’ll like, Pollo en Sauce Jalapeno… Which is a big Nicaraguan dish and not Mexican.

Oh well, our company is awesome. Alberto kept us entertained all night with stories and showing us beautiful pictures on his phone. He told us that Kristi, Cindy and Mike were the first family he ever took on a tour and was the start of his Tour Profession.  He is working for a hotel in Southern Costa Rica now for a guy from Toronto and seems to be doing well.  He’s the type of person you just enjoy being around.  He gave us some history information on Nicaragua and the Current President who is the reason Nicaragua is so far behind the rest of Central America.

At one point I got up to use the bathroom and went into the restaurant.  There was a spa in the back of it! There was a fountain and very nice dining tables set up and then a ghetto little bathroom that had 2 stalls in it, one labled men and the other women.  Seemed very out of place.

After that, our server came up and explained that the parade was starting and we weren’t allowed to have our beer bottle on the table (we were ordering beer by the liter) when the virgin came by.

So we poured the rest into glasses and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally it was after 10pm and we had long since paid our bill, decided to walk down the street and see what all the fuss was about.  It was a big float being pulled by people with an Amulance in front and a police car behind.  It was moving very slow, we probably had another 30mins at least before the float reached where we were.

The fire works and party in the street was very cool though.

After that we parted ways with Alberto, he was getting close to 24 hours with no sleep and we were tired too. He wants us to visit him at the Hotel, he says the first night is on him.  Might be too far out of our way though.

This morning we got up around 9:30am, paid for our room and went for breakfast.  We ate at a little outdoor restaurant at Central Park called La Kiosk Gordo which translates to the fat kiosk.  For $4 we had juice, coffee, and 2 plates with beans, rice, eggs and a tortilla on a banana leaf.  It was even better than our meal last night at the fancy restaurant and 1/7th the price.  We walked around Granada for about an hour, checked inside the chocolate factory.  Such a beautiful city, very modern and a lot of tourists which is why it’s more expensive.

We got back on a bus and headed back to Leon.  Other than having the most passive, slow bus driver from Granada to Managua, it was an easy trip.

Just relaxing in the main room, listening to constant fire works going off outside… it may be cars backfiring, I’m not 100% sure.  Feels good to kick my feet up and relax.

A side note on Granada.  I have been trying to get straight to the point but there’s so much that I want to say.

Grenada looks like a much more modern city than Leon, the streets were full of life, restaurants and hotels all down the main strip. The buildings are all done in different colors, blue, red yellow, etc and it really brings the city to life.

The hard part was seeing the kids and beggers in the street.  During dinner and breakfast, we had someone new at our table every 5 minutes.  Most of the time they were trying to sell things.  They have everything from baked goods to cigarrettes to lollipops and hand crafted items.

One guy about 18 years old played a flute between our table and a couple others. He came over and said something to us, Alberto reached into his pocket and gave him one cord, I followed suit.

I asked Alberto what he said, “I am having a hard time finding work and I’m using my talent to try to make money. If I can’t make enough to survive here, I will have to resort to theft and crime but don’t want to do that.”

This morning for breakfast, many small children, no older than 6 or 7 were coming up and asking for money.  We of course don’t give them anything as we know it’s just going to buy glue.  But Kristi had finished her breakfast but there was still food on the plate, one kid who saw she was done with her meal, asked for it. Kristi nodded and the kid quickly wrapped it up in the banana leaf and took off.  It was really sad to see but I was glad that it was food and not drugs.

I look forward to going back to Granada to stay for a bit longer in a month or so.  Being it was a holiday today, we didn’t want to risk being stuck in Managua over night.  It feels good to be home.

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