Nicaragua II: Historic sites and clouded forest walks

Published: July 16th 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

Grenada ChurchGrenada ChurchGrenada Church

We didn´t pay the money to climb the top to see the view from the tower, the man claimed he didn´t have change so we didn´t bother to see it
Aside from the intensely painful sunburn covering large portions of my body, the heat rash taking over both my legs and bum, the itchy bug bites occupying my legs and feet, and the diarrhea i’ve picked up along the way, i am really liking Central America. Currently we are in Matagalpa, Nicaragua for the next few days before heading to El Salvador via Honduras. We are planning to bypass Honduras due to the whole military over throw and all. Hopefully without incident...

The landscape here is utterly amazing, forested hillsides, winding roads among small valleys and large patches of tropical trees. Prior to Matagalpa, we spent some time in Granada, Nicaragua, which is a very nice and interesting town. The road our hostel was on was a bustling market street. Rather dirty and polluted, yet full of energy and market stalls. Many of the stalls were wooden and simple and sold various fruits or breads where the sellers (usually women) would wave a pom-pom over periodically to deter flies or other insects. Against my best judgement, i bought a bag of already-cut mango and ate it. Immediately afterward i fell a bit ill, though i doubt it was the fruit. Steve had been sick a few days before and it was bound to happen but i was sick for the next few days... nevermind.

In Grenada market streets, which were one-car wide and full of people shopping, selling, or waving wadfuls of cash in your face asking if you want to exchange your money. There were fewer cars, mostly people on horses or on bicycles. The taxi drivers were less persistent here than other places we’ve been; instead of following us around or driving beside us yelling “taxi? Taxi? Where you going?” these drivers instead just gave a friendly beep to let us know they were there but didn’t harass us. Once a seller, a plump man with a basket of cheese on his head, crossed the street, spotted Step and Steve and gave an enthusiastic point to them with his index finger yelling “YOU want to buy CHEESE??!!”

We visited the historic sites in the other part of Grenada- just one street over and the atmosphere was completely opposite, you’d think you were in another country. Leaving the chaotic market place, we walked the historic bit of town where there were no vehicles, fewer stalls (selling food and drink only) but all in the same plaza. The restaurants here more expensive and geared toward tourists. We followed the main gutter which is disgustingly polluted with rubbish and sewage that leads to the beach where some of locals will swim. There was an old man with less teeth than a jack-o-lantern pushing a small white cart on wheels with pictures of ice cream. On the handles were a few bells he rang to get attention. He followed us around saying “Vroom vroom! Beep beep!” so we bought ice cream from him which melted faster than we could eat.

After a few days we headed to Matagalpa via “chicken bus” (which many of the buses here are retired US school buses that they cover in paint, colored tape, and loads of religious stickers, sometimes covering the windshield leaving only small gaps to see out!). Taking the bus is always amusing. At times, people will board trying to sell various items. Once taking the bus, we passed through a small market street and i awoke to see the bus suddenly full of people yelling and men hanging in the windows from outside with bags full of tomatoes and onions! At first i had thought we were under attack but they were all just trying to sell food and drinks mostly. Other things we’ve seen them selling include drinks in baggies, underpants for girls and boys, socks, half fried chickens usually with tortilla or rice and beans, wash cloths, movies and boxer documentaries, and various snack food.

The hostel we got in Matagalpa was the ‘more expensive’ one, which we only got because they were the only with security and Helenka is quite picky with where we sleep or eat, or rather where we can’t sleep or eat. Our hostel has two pet turtles that roam around and will somehow climb up the stairs near our doors, hten to get down, they push themselves to the very edge where they teeter until they put their heads inside their shell, gravity takes over and they flip off the side on to their back where they right themselves! Funny critters.

Matagalpa is quite nice climate compared to the other places we’ve been so far as it is in the highlands and is much cooler during the day and cool enough at night we don’t need a fan. Large hill sides or mountains surround us and i’m not looking forward to leaving this weather for the hot humid temperatures under scorching sun!

While here, we’ve went on two walks which were quite nice although the first one we never found what we were looking for and just walked trails around isolated villages and farms before heading back and the second day we walked through Selva Negro, a clouded forest with many paths and trails but no organization to tell you where to go or what paths connect so we essentially wandered the forest aimlessly for nearly 4 hours up hill, down hill, through brush, under fallen trees, sliding in the mud and talking to a troop of howler monkeys!

We got back on one of the very colourful ‘chicken buses’ which are retired US school buses that the drivers deck out with colourful ornaments and Jesus stickers or other interesting decorations with lights inside that synchronize with their braking or the beat of the music. I tried the Nicaraguan food-to-try, which is nacatamale, and is a banana leaf wrapping up some bready substance, potatoes, veggies and some meat. Not spectacular, but had to try it anyway. And the drink of choice is Pitaha juice, a very brilliant purple color and comes from purple cactus juice, it’s very delicious!

Anyway, next time i will be (hopefully) in El Salvador and not stuck between borders in Honduras!
^Út Í Óvissuna^

Additional photos below
Photos: 10, Displayed: 10


Grenada Market StreetGrenada Market Street
Grenada Market Street

A small glimpse of the market street when it was not so crowded, this was on a slow part of the day. Usually it was packed full of people slowing down the one-way traffic!
Grenada Market fruit vendorGrenada Market fruit vendor
Grenada Market fruit vendor

Waving a cloth to deter insects and selling fruit all day in the bustling streets of Grenada
Ice cream vendorIce cream vendor
Ice cream vendor

Equipped with bells
Woman selling drinks Woman selling drinks
Woman selling drinks

Fascinating to watch these women carrying baskets of food or drinks on their head with no hands!

Tot: 0.901s; Tpl: 0.026s; cc: 6; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0401s; 45; m:apollo w:www (; sld: 3; ; mem: 6.7mb