When I am in a new situation or meeting new people, there is always a moment when everything sort of clicks together in a way that was different and better than before. I often describe myself as a “feather in the wind”. That is, for the most part, I am lucky that I have a personality where I can have a good time in virtually any situation. So, I am not surprised that I have been having a blast from day one of this trip. I’ve enjoyed the activities, and I think that the group is great. But, there was a moment when everything went from fun to really clicking – a new level. And, for me, that moment was in Granada. I loved Granada.
As is typical at this point, I can’t skip talking about the transportation. For our travel day from the island of Ometepe to Granada, we got to have a new experience: the chicken bus. “Chicken buses” are a common local way of traveling. Basically a chicken buses are repurposed school buses (I think from the US, but I’m not sure). I’m not an expert, but I’ve now seen several of them around (and
Back on the ferry
ridden in one!). I heard somewhere that they are called chicken buses because Central Americans sometimes travel with livestock – the stereotype is a crate of chickens on the top of the bus. But, the only chicken that I saw on the bus was fried. J
First we took a ferry back to the mainland and then an informal chicken bus to a bigger bus station where we caught our bus to Granada. We waited, in the bus, at the busy station for about 20-30 minutes so there was plenty of time for people watching. It seemed a little chaotic – there’s no way I would have done it by myself. Also while we were waiting, people kept coming on to the bus to see if we wanted to buy stuff from them. It was so random – everything from bandanas to CD’s to the aforementioned fried chicken – and different from how things are back at home.
We arrived in Granada before lunch, and right away I was drawn into the city. It’s got a Spanish Colonial style, and everything is SO colorful. The buildings are painted in tons of vibrant colors and
Informal chicken bus... Our bags all arrived intact after being on the top of the bus(es).
there is just so much to see. It is a small city, but bustling with activity. The food was also really delicious and varied. We had a delicious lunch at a coffee shop/café with a garden and then just wandered around the city. Along the way, we stumbled across an Irish Pub – every city has one, right? This one, though, had an Irish bartender who told us that the guy who opened it was from Chicago. It felt right. While enjoying a Guinness and then a Tona (a Nicaragua beer) we chatted up a few people. We ended up back at the pub for a few drinks after dinner and had a blast. A few of the guys that worked there invited us out dancing. For me, this was definitely one of the things that was outside of my comfort zone – but the Irish lass vouched for them and we were in a group of about 5… So, I decided to go and I’m really glad that I did. We let loose, dancing and being goofy into the wee hours of the night. The icing on the cake was a spontainous
Fortunately for our second
Chicken bus stop
day in Granada, I had decided to take the more relaxed activity option – a day at a place called the Monkey Hut in Laguna de Apoyo, Nicaragua. I’m not sure how it got it’s name, but the Monkey Hut is a nature reserve that is on a giant lagoon in a volcanic crater. It was so fun. The water was crystal clear and perfect for swimming and kayaking – I enjoyed both so much. For the whole day, I balanced lounging and enjoying the spectacular landscape with water activities. A perfect day, really. The evening was equally relaxed as we ate pizza and said our good-byes to Granada.
I had so much fun in Granada, and I was in vacation mode for sure. But, there have definitely been flashes or reminders that Nicaragua is a developing country. For example, when we arrived at our hotel we were told that we should be really careful with our passports and money because the area had been “hot” lately with thefts. Also, particularly tough for me, there are a lot of animals that look like they are starving. In Granada there are a ton of horse buggies available for
hire – and many of the horses were skin and bones. I was reflecting on that and someone in my group said, “Imagine the number of hungry people behind the horse”. As another example, we walked some girls back to our hotel before we went dancing and then caught a cab from there. While we were hailing the cab, a few guys seemed to be eyeing us and moving closer. It wasn’t totally threatening, but it was enough that we told each other to “get in the cab right now”. I think that there is so much value in seeing how other people live… and confronting the privileges that I have. So, I’m glad, in a way, for these experiences. It hasn’t taken away from my fun, just heightened my level of awareness of my surroundings and given me the opportunity for “mutli-culti” self-reflection.
We didn’t want to leave Granada. As we had our last breakfast there, we reflected that we could easily have stayed a few more days. I would definitely go back. But, fortunately, our next place was amazing in a different way. I am writing this from a completely private island off the coast
At last a pool!
– an Island were my hotel is the only thing on the beach. It’s fantastic, and I look forward to sharing about it later. For now, though, there’s beach volleyball to enjoy and a cold “Nica libra” waiting for me. Life is good.
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