Crossing into Nicaragua, Granada & traveling...

Published: March 8th 2010
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From Liberia we took the 10 am bus to Las Penas Blancas which is where the boarder crossing is. There were hundreds of trucks lined up waiting for their papers to get sorted we were told they could wait for days to get through! We got in a very long line and waited melting in the heat to get our exit stamp. We finally got our stamp and started making our 1km trek to the Nicaraguan side. 1km doesn't seem like a lot but when the sun's blaring down and your carrying around 24 kilos it soon feels like your trekking 10 km! We finally made it and got our Nicaraguan #15!
From the boarder we jumped on a very ghetto looking bus ( like the diablo rojos in Panama) we each took two seats as we had all our bags with us and proceeded to watch Enrique Iglesias on the ridiculously big flat screen tv in the bus! During the journey the bus started filling up more and a guy came and sat next to me spreading himself taking half of my sitting space too! It was not the most comfy of rides! When the Enrique songs were over the driver changed the DVD and put on "Rocky II" dubbed in Spanish, Brilliant!
We got dropped off along the road only about 20 km out of Granada, as soon as we stepped off the bus we were hassled by taxi drivers wanting to take us to Granada for $10!! We told him we would take the local bus and he started madly dropping the price...$8! $6! $5! $4!!!! We still took the local bus which was around 30cents!! We arrived in Granada very thankful for a shower & aircon!! Granada is a beautiful colonial city, we decided to stay for a few days to settle a bit. We ended up staying 7 nights & the hotel gave us a deal for staying that long. During those 7 days we really relaxed swimming in the hotel pool strolling around the city and generally keeping things slow, it felt nice not to have to worry about our next bus or packing our bags every couple days!! On one of the days we went to the top of the tower at the "Merced Church" to watch the sunset. It is such a beautiful view from up there as you get a 360 view of Granada's streets and rooftops, we stayed there until closing time just admiring the colorful sign and watching Granada getting ready for the night.
Unfortunately like many big tourist attractions Granada has a lot of children begging for dollars in the streets and way too many overpriced American owened restaurants which at times spoils the beauty of the place.
Whats important to know is that in Granada there are places where the children can go and sleep & eat ect... but they want to make money and to eat western type food, (some of them use it to buy drugs) and who can blame them really...what can we do? Not encourage it by giving them money , it sounds harsh but its a general rule around the world, in many countries parents use their children to get the money because it brings in more, but really the children should be in school or playing. Giving money to the children does not help them it just makes us feel better, because its hard to say no.
After 7 days of lazing we thought we should get out and see some more of Nicaragua so we rented a car for two days. Driving around Nicaragua is eventful in itself, you share the roads with all different kinds of buses, donkeys, horse pulled carriages, bicycles etc...its brilliant! Our first stop was Esteli, we went there because Lonely Planet made it sound like a place not to miss. Esteli is really not as nice as its written up to be but we decided to visit and stay the night anyway...we walked around the town and also went to a little museum " Galleria de heroes y matires" which is taken care of by the mothers of the victims of the war. There is a very touching collection of clothes with the sons names on them all of it hand written by the mums, lots of pictures of the son's and their biographies as well as information about the war, newspaper clippings and such.
The next day we left bright and early making our way to Leon, once again it was not like we imagined it to be. Leon is a collonial city like Granada only its not as cute and quaint. We walked around and went to see the cathedral which is apparently the largest cathedral in central America. We then did the short drive down to Las Penas beach before making our way back to Granada. We spent one more night in Granada before leaving the next morning to El Salvador!


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