Monday, March 24, 2008

Granada, Nicaragua

After a long and tiring bus ride, and a very drawn out immigration affair at the border where I was left sitting for 2 hours,- thanks for the heads-up John M, you were right, I arrived in Granada, one of the oldest cities in Nicaragua. The history of this city is intense and includes a major burning of the city by an American who once took over the country. He eventually was hanged when he was stupid enough to come back and try it all over again. The violence continued over the years and right up to the early 80´s giving the world a sense that this is still a dangerous country. This is far from the truth. I have discovered some of the most wonderful people and some of the greatest natural country that I have seen in all my travels. I am staying at the Hotel Corona right on the Parque Central, (every city in the Spanish world seems to have a Parque Central. Horse and carts fight for street rights with Hummers and bicycles. The people are extremely poor and begging by all ages, especially children, is prevalent. I have made some good friends here already including John Oliver, a black Nicaraguan street artist from the east (English, Rastafarian and Carribean) coast. In many ways this is a country divided by it's inhospitable and difficult to access centre.

Took an all day tour yesterday with my new friend Megan, a jailhouse worker from San Francisco. The tour was a relaxed one with the tour vehicle being the personal car of one of the employees. It started with zip lining through the jungle tree tops at high speed on the side of a dormant volcano. Talk about heart stopping. If that wasn´t enough, we did tricks as well- hanging upside down with arms hanging down and flying like superman, screaming and yelling like an idiot. . There were 13 lines each ending in a platform high in the trees. The final line treated us to being flung up and down, almost bungee like by the guides, as we raced to the end. What a thrill. Someday I will grow up

Later that day I took a boat tour with my new friend Megan, and guides, Leo, Jose, and Maurice, thru the 300 odd mini-islands that form the coastline near Granada. We had the 14 passenger boat all to ourselves as we cruised amongst the tiny Islands, most the size of a a large house lot and usually owned and occupied by foreigners, a growing concern for Nicaraguans who are seeing their land being bought up by outsiders. After a couple of hours we stopped at Paradise Island, at least that's what I called it. It was crowded with Nica (Nicaraguan) families enjoying their Semana Santa (Easter week) holiday. Drank lots of Toña beer and ate whole fish with the head on and eyeballs staring at me, got over it and enjoyed it thoroughly and then went swimming in Lac Nicaragua, supposedly occupied by ocean sharks that have found their way into the lake from the Atlantic Ocean via the Rio San Juan in the south. Did not see any myself but did see numerous birds and some eager monkeys on, of course, Monkey Island. As it must, all good things come to an end, and I was dropped at my Hotel and another great meal with my new friend, on the Avenida des Comidas, Thai this time. The wind was up from the nearby Lake and the fabric street-side drapes were flapping and cracking dramatically as we ate. A fitting end to the day and our time together since we both head in opposite directions tomorrow.