Published: January 21st 2011
January 16th 2011
Granada, Nicaragua, is gorgeous, with many well preserved historic and brightly coloured buildings. We think its the Nicaraguan equivalent of Antigua, Guatemala - geared for tourism but still real for all that. Like the last stop in Leon, Granada was established by the Spanish conquistador Cordoba in the mid 16th century and has many surviving buildings from that time. Quite peaceful to wander round with a huge yellow cathedral on the main square and another 16 churches dotted round. We took a trip out to the nearby 5 cratered volcano for sunset - what a tough life. After dark we descended with hard hats and torches to a lava tube/tunnel and watched zillions of bats fly out. They sounded like moths. Fascinating and magical!
We also went to a whole village where 80% of the population is engaged in making the most beautiful pottery with very old methods and pre Columbian designs, burnishing each layer of clay by hand with the seed from a local tree. They then fire them with wood fired ovens! How they get a consistent temperature is a marvel! They would really go down well in Europe. I'd love to start an import business with them and
the Guatemalan textiles. Its very humbling to see the time, effort and patience these talented people put into the works of art for such little return too. We would highly recommend Granada and the surrounding area.
Another travel day with a difference followed. We all piled onto a 'chicken' bus with the bags thrown on top, small bags on laps, with about a million people, three and four to a seat, kids on any available lap, hot and bumpy for an hour and a half. There we got a van and eventually ended at a dock to catch a ferry across Lake Nicaragua, 45 mins, to Ometepe Island and another van to our next hotel. Lake N is the 2nd largest fresh water lake in C and S America, covering some 800plus square kilometers - huge. We're on the water and its like the ocean, with good sized waves. At the moment it is 2 metres higher than normal so there has been some flooding. While here we have heard that Roatan (where we were recently, on the Carribean coast of Honduras) has been cut off for three days due to these same high waters and winds. What a shame
we didn't get stranded there! Ometepe is a very peaceful place though, with 2 perfectly shaped volcano craters flowers galore and not much more than shacks for restaurants. They use a lot of garlic though! A very peaceful place and we all are just enjoying doing not much. Off this afternoon to a village saints day celebration which involves the running of the bulls, or riding them I think.
Our trip through these 3 countries have opened our eyes in many ways. In Guatemala we saw many more indigenous faces (mostly Mayan) and as we have progressed, there have gradually been more Hispanic features in appearance. Indigenous dialects are still everywhere. Both in Guatemala and Nicaragua we have seen the tragic scars of vicious civil wars. There are memorials to those massacred and jails turned into museums to tell the story, which is good as democracy is still very fragile in some places. The Nicaraguans, particularly, are very proud of their nation and are striving to help re-build. They know it will take time and be perhaps for their children. The impression of Honduras, on the other hand, seems to be much more tranquil with not much evidence of the
Contra war which spilled over the border from Nicaragua. Beautiful countryside and an altogether different feel. In all three countries the people have been very friendly and are more than happy to meet you halfway.
Next we travel down to the Pacific coast to San Juan del Sur. More soon!
There are more photos below