We’d heard a lot of negative things about Granada (super touristy, expensive, nothing to do) but we absolutely loved it. It had the most gorgeous colonial style architecture, colorful buildings, a huge parque central and delicious street food. The icing on the cake was the 6 for $5 beer specials every afternoon. We spent most of our time wandering the streets and eating all the fresh fruit and sampling new kinds of cuisine (they have cheese stuffed tortillas here!).
Vigorón – an iconic dish of Nicaragua and one that we loved. It felt like a perfect fusion of Samoan and Laotian cusine to me – the yuca reminded me of taro, the sweet and sour dressing was very similar to the one used in papaya salad – and pork crackling is used in both countries cuisines. Yum!!!!
Pupusas – technically an El Salvadorean dish but we never had a chance to eat any there. Stuffed with ham and cheese, or chicken and cheese they were delicious!
After the six beers for $5 special we ordered a flor de caña because I wanted to taste the local rum
(it just tastes like rum).
One day we went for an adventure to Mombacho volcano a little out of the city. As we started walking up the 5km track countless trucks full of tourists passed us and we laughed with each other about how lazy they were. A few minutes later when we were leaning forward to trudge up the nearly vertical hills we were no longer laughing. By halfway the only thing stopping us from jumping on one of the trucks ourselves was that it would require energy and we didn’t have any – we were concentrating too hard on lunging one foot in front of the other to ensure we didn’t topple backwards down the mountain. I think the only thing that actually got us to the top was the sound of howler monkeys in the distance (which we mistook for jaguars and found new energy in the face of certain death). I should clarify when I say ‘we’ I mean myself and a girl from our hostel who came with us. Guy breezed on up cracking jokes and quietly enjoying our pain.
After about three hours we reached the crater lookout expecting to find a breathtaking view that would make the trembling in our legs all worth it. Instead we found this.
It was at least cool and refreshing. It was so misty it was really quite beautiful, I imagined that we were in the highlands of Scotland frolicking with pixies. We walked the path around the crater which gave us much the same view from every mirador (look out point) but eventually we stumbled across a nice spot and the clouds parted briefly giving us lovely views over lake Nicaragua.
Getting back into town was also an adventure. After refusing the overpriced offers of a hundred tuk tuks we found ourselves sitting on the side of the road under the shade of a large tree. After a few minutes a chicken bus pulled up and we leapt up ready to jump on board, only to see that it was full. The notion of full is apparently a relative term. In this part of the world it’s considered perfectly acceptable to have three people to a seat, in addition to their bags, lunch and babies. It’s also perfectly acceptable for people to squeeze into the aisles back to back. When the bus stopped for us three local woman jumped onto the steps leading up to the drivers seat – there wasn’t any room for them inside but they clung on outside as best they could. We went to sit down again and wait for the next bus when suddenly the back door was flung open and a man jumped out and started yelling at us to get on. By this stage the bus had already started to slowly pull away from the kerb so we all scrambled on as quickly as we could only to find there was no room. We grabbed onto the outside railing and tried to find secure footing but before we knew it the same man was pushing us rather insistently into the mass of bodies already squeezed inside. Somehow we managed to maneuver our way in and found ourselves in very uncomfortable positions. Picture if you will, me bent nearly in half over the back of a seat trying not to push my face into the three people sitting there with Guy pressed tightly up to my right side and an obese lady pushed tightly into my left side, her arm wobble slapping me gently whenever the bus lurched. Behind Guy are two people pressed right up into him and so on. Somehow in the midst of all this (I watch extremely closely each time it happens but I’m quite sure it’s a magic trick) a man moves amongst us collecting our fare. We’re fairly sure the man we paid wasn’t actually the man we were supposed to pay – we just saw a hand outstretched and so we deposited some money into it. Despite the uncomfortable amount of strangers hot flesh rubbing up against us we were kept entertained throughout the bus ride by a Michael Jackson impersonator barking like a dog every few minutes, and a very large angry woman getting into a fight with another lady on the bus. It almost turned violent but I guess even magicians are bound by the laws of space (she was so wide she had to squeeze sideways through the aisles). I really wanted to get some photos but there was a slightly hostile vibe on the bus after we got on so I wasn’t brave enough. Here’s a sweaty photo of us at a mirador instead ;).
We had so much fun in Granada we were a little sad to leave but luckily the Isla de Ometepe had just as much to offer us. Nicaragua you are such a cool little country we love you!
Here’s a little video I made too