Back to Nicaragua

Back in Nicaragua again. But a slightly different itinerary this time around. Spending a day or two on either side of the humanitarian work to see more of the country.

First stop was a town called Granada, east of the capital Managua and located on a volcanic lake where freshwater sharks play. I’d never heard of them either, apparently this is the only place they live. Swimming up the rivers like salmon. Interesting.

We caught a luxury taxi ride from the airport – meaning it had air conditioning – and were there about 45 minutes later. Stayed at a nice place called Hotel Patio del Malinche, a couple of blocks off the main square towards the lake.

Granada herself is much more touristy and appropriate for expat living than is Chinandega. But yet still much less touristy than most places I’ve been. There is a central area where tourists comply with the obligatory invitation of any centralized market to go see what life is about in the local area. Booths targeting tourists don’t quite clog the square but they impede the way with large tents, tables and other accoutrements.

But it all seems a bit staged. Several identical vendors sell things but to no crowds in the off season. No fewer than three ice cream bike vendors pedal over each others’ tracks in concentric circles. It’s like walking into a fair where all the rides are going but nobody is on them. A little off putting.

But when the town realizes that it’s Saturday night and the tourist crowds (such that they are) flock to the many restaurants and bars catering to their tastes, the streets and local establishments shine. Side streets close to the tourist areas even have vibrant local venues. And you’re as likely to run into a group of college kids as not. Tourists have their havens but the places where they’re not really typify this town.

So when the taxi came this morning to haul us off I left with a feeling that I hadn’t really seen the town. I certainly hadn’t done the many local activities available like kayaking and ziplining, but I had also missed out on the real treats like the lake itself and the real life functioning of the city. It’s not a place to spend a lot of a limited amount of time but as a couple of day layover you could do worse.

Back in Chinandega now and glad it’s off the beaten path. True, there’s not a luxury accommodation like we had in Granada but then again I’m not tarred as a tourist. The local places smile at the novelty rather than smirk at the gouging. Happy to be here.

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Posted on October 10, 2011, in Latin america and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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