Grandiose Granada and the Gasoline Gangs !! – Nicaragua

The girls play football on the streets of Granada ...Views over Granada

Hola from Nicaragua

I woke up around 10am. Katie had woken up early enough to put her name on the list for the Granada shuttle – I have no idea where she gets all of her energy from, especially as she’d stayed out later than me. I called my Auntue just to make sure she’d got my message and she seemed incredibly relaxed about all the potential problems the strike may cause. The shuttle decided to leave a bit early due to the petrol blockades. We were instructed to put our bags on the bus and then we had to walk in small groups so to not attract attention to ourselves. The idea was that we walk through the first blockade actually in San Juan del Sur. I don’t know why but we even invented cover stories as to where we were going while we were walking. All very cloak and dagger !! After 30 minutes we reached the bus that had quietly snuck into a side alley. We’d seen very little action although one guy was being interviewed by the TV station. Time to get on the road. The journey takes about 2 hours. We suddenly came across a very large blockade. To say the people weren’t happy to see us was an understatement, however they let us pass without incident. The next blockade was more hostile. I actually wasn’t too worried as police were there and they are armed. I felt like a “Scab” crossing the lines, after all I do agree with what they are striking for, but at the same time I’ve got to fetch Auntie tomorrow. This time they decided to bang on the bus doors. It was a little unnerving, but maybe more so when we saw a guy being pulled out of a taxi on the other side of the blockade, I’d loved to have taken a photo but daren’t risk it !! Basically all public buses and taxis should be striking as the petrol has increased so much it is affecting their pay. At least 2 people that I now know of died in Leon and it’s rumoured that the president, Ortega sold oil to other countries, really not sure about him, yet another mate of Chavez the clown. Katie also seemed to be coming down with the flu and was fading fast. We reached Granada and as the Bearded Monkey was full I went back to Oasis where I’d planned to stay when my Auntie arrived anyway. I met up with the Irish who’d been on the shuttle. After all the day’s excitement we were knackered so went out for a quick hot dog. After a relaxing afternoon we went out for dinner on a very touristy street just off the main square. It was an Asian restaurant, Pauline an Irish girl has been craving Indian food as much as me but this had to do. I had Korean tacos which were great but the others were a bit disappointed with their Thai. We got some beers on the way back to the hostel. I discovered that Pauline had also done the turtle volunteer work that I’d done. Just after 11pm a girl came in looking for a room. All they had left were the expensive ones so I offered her a free bed in my room, well couldn’t let a girl roam the streets at that time of the night and that is my good deed for the day !! Off to bed I have to admit I was getting excited about Auntie’s impending visit tomorrow.

I woke up around 8am, and Katie came over about 30 minutes later so we went back to the Bearded Monkey for breakfast. I have to say the food is really good there. After breakfast Katie packed up and we went back to the Oasis where I changed rooms and as there was a spare bed invited Katie to stay. After we were all sorted out we went to the main square and ended up doing a bit of jewellery shopping. During the day it’s surrounded by horse and carts to give rides around the city. The poor horses end up with lots of bows tied to their head, I’m sure they know it makes them look silly !! Annoyingly some of the stall holders were selling turtle shell products so I refused to buy from them. I know they are poor but it’s just wrong !!

Katie went off to make a call so I got a drink and sat in the square. When she came back she saw a bowl of food which a local guy was having and ordered it. As it was pork I declined. There are a lot of hungry children here and you can see the saliva literally drooling from their mouths as they watch you eat. There was some crackling with the food and she took a bite. After swallowing it she looked down to see that there was an enormous amount of black hair sticking out. In fact it could have been human for all we knew. It certainly bore a close resemblance to my legs if left unshaven for a week (I haven’t actually resorted to that as yet, maybe if I was away longer and wanted to save on razors !!). We never did find out if it really was pork, one bite had been enough for her though. She immediately felt sick and I don´t blame her. It was gross !! We couldn’t stop joking about the fact that she’d turned into a cannibal for the rest of the day.  

After that we decided to go to one of the Cathedrals to walk up the bell tower to take some shots of the city from up high (as you can see in the above photo). We walked up the steps and as we had been told to mind our heads we walked out through a gate way on to the roof. It provided us with great views although it was hard taking pictures as the roofs were quite curved. It seemed like quite a bit of balancing was going on. I noticed one of the structures at the side had fallen aswell. Suddenly we heard a shout. Apparently we were supposed to carry on up the stairs and where we were standing was a dangerous area, we had to come back inside immediately. Reprimanded like naughty school girls (I wish !!) we came back in and finished the walk to the top. We wandered around town a bit more and went for a very delicious ice cream at the Euro Cafe, with a dulce de leche sauce of course !! (Yes, I’m still addicted, I think it will be a life long passion). 

I had a taxi booked for 5 to take me to Managua airport. I’d got a brilliant deal for $30, there and back including the wait time (obviously would have been cheaper if a bus was running !!). Sometimes it does pay to be extra nice and speak as much Spanish as possible to the receptionist. My driver, Victor, turned up bang on time. Auntie’s plane arrived and after a little problem with the luggage being stuck we were on our way. I’ve changed her name from Eileen for the purposes of this trip. Mainly because the word for Aunt in Spanish is Tia, so I’m introducing her to everyone as Mi Tia Maria – makes me laugh, and it involves alcohol !! After checking her in we head straight out for a Mojito before going to bed, after all she’s had an extremely long journey via Miami to get here.

Katie’s shuttle to Managua left at 4am, actually they knocked at 3.30am which was a bit of a shock. She’s been hilarious, is off to party in Tahoe but Katie just remember to “Rally ” !! (private joke). It’s been a laugh and she’s promised to show me around the West Coast of the USA of I ever make it there. Auntie and I get up and tour the city’s cathedrals ( where there seems to be an endless streams of people sweeping floors), then it’s time for lunch. After lunch we head to the old convent which is now a museum, Mi Tia Maria decided that they’d got the labelling all wrong on the old statues and what they’d labelled as monkeys were really jaguars. Granada is really quite a stunning town, very colonial and grand and can easily be seen in a day or two. I love the way the tiled pavements are all different and the buildings are a variety of different colours. It gets incredibly quiet on the less busy streets at night though, and there does seem to be lots of slot machine places everywhere. There are lots of men trying to sell us pottery – not the best item to put in my rucksack !! We watch girls play a football match in the square (pictured above), it’s amazing how many boys were watching on bicycles at the sidelines, maybe they weren’t that interested in the actual game itself though. For dinner we headed to a lovely restaurant called Pasta Pasta, not very authentic for the first meal but there’s plenty of time yet.

On the way back I said goodbye to Eddie a boy whose Mum had a stall near the hostel he was so sweet….Granada is extremely grand, now having been around Nicaragua I have to say I prefer the more authentic Leon which a lot of people miss out. They had an Australian situation where Leon and Granada disagreed so Managua was the in the middle – shame but true !!

We in the mean time need an early night as we have an early shuttle to Ometepe tomorrow and so far I think Auntie is enjoying it and she can read Spanish really well, I’m impressed !!   

Transport count:

Plane = 24, Bus = 115, Train = 2, Boat =20, Sunglasses = 9, Mosquito Repellant = 10, Books Read = 30 1/2, Bags lost and then recovered = 2.

Take care all

Sally

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