Granada – taking a holiday in Nicaragua

It actually feels like going on a holiday from our home in León in Nicaragua. We took a bus to Granada – the Nicaraguan tourist town – for a four day trip. Staying in a hotel with a pool, going out to dinner every night. That’s different from our lifestyle on this trip. We’re all enjoying it.

The trip
We had to change busses in Managua, supposedly it’s super easy – get off the bus from León and on the bus to Granda, that is if you arrive at the correct bus terminal. Arrrg, we didn’t and had no idea where we needed to go. And again Rainer had chatted up to a nice business man on the bus who was willing to take us.

Just walk a couple of blocks in that direction, then left. I’ll take you.

And than he ran off onto the street, busses, cars, motorbikes just stopped, we ran after him, Rainer carrying the luggage, me holding on to Anton. Left, right, straight, duck into a Managuan market (don’t ask me where I have no bloody idea where we were and was afraid of getting lost all the time). The markets reminded me of Chinatown in Bangkok, narrow paths, roofed, selling fish, meat, shoes, clothes, just about everything. It’s like a maze. And we walked, practically ran after this guy for about 15 minutes that felt like an hour, meanwhile shop girls and men touching Anton’s hair saying potentially nice things I didn’t understand.
Finally we got out onto a street again, crossed a gas station, to my big relief saw some minibuses and our guide spoke to a couple of people delivering us directly in front of the bus to Granda. By saying our good-byes and thank you he made even sure that we knew how much the drivers should charge us, so we didn’t get ripped of. I was baffled, again.

The hotel
Super sweet, small and cozy. We booked in advance and when we arrived at the desk the lady said

Hello Rainer?

We are not the only family with a little boy here but already known as the one with the boy who always talks. Anton jumped into the pool within ten minutes after our arrival. The maintenance guy couldn’t believe Anton’s swimming alone. The big orange floats on Anton’s arms did nothing to reassure him. Only after I joined Anton in the pool he was able to get on with his work and leave Anton’s side.

The town
Nice colonial town, used to tourists with one distinct tourist street with shops and cafés, people sitting outside, eating, chatting, but still not overflown with tourists and kitsch. And there is a slight breeze, ohhh how we like that!
After getting acquainted with the area on the first afternoon we took a walk around the Granada market in the morning. The setup is like in Managua just a bit smaller. Again people were very helpful, we were looking for a sun hat (lost both of Anton’s already) and people just took us from their corner in the market to where we needed to look.
Lunch was in the the town square, traditional dish called Vigorón (fried pork skin, Kraut and yuca), it’s served on a big banana leaf. Anton didn’t care for it, I couldn’t eat the pork skin, too fatty even though the taste was quite good. When we were half done a little boy came up to us asking for the left overs. When I nodded he grabbed the banana leaf and ran off.
Going on this trip I imagined we’d see some poverty and I was actually surprised how that wasn’t so bad when we saw how people lived. Of course many people are poor and live in very, very simple homes. But up until León I hadn’t seen anything that I would call a slum. There were always a couple of chickens running around and some greens in the garden. So even if life is tough those people can feed themselves and have a home with a roof over their heads, even if it is a very simple one.
Walking up a hill in León to have a better view of the city we saw some huts that didn’t even have a proper roof, just some old plastic sheets. Black. Can’t even imagine the heat there in the dry season and the dampness and rain inside in the rainy season. But it didn’t affect me that much to be honest. Today, after some shopping and fun with my family, the luxury of ordering some fries for my kid because he didn’t like the foreign food and just the thought about how lucky we are to be on this trip to begin with, that little boy touched my heart. It makes me sad that there are kids running around begging food off us tourists to feed the whole family (we saw some kids giving the food to the parents after swiping it from another table) not going to school to get a change of getting out of this mess.

On a happier note
Shopping, for the first time for something other than necessities on this trip. We found a little store (Soy Nica) that sells hand made leather bags. It’s owned by a Danish couple who manufacture here in a workshop behind the store with traditional means. The sewing machine is a manual Pfaff from Kaiserslautern. You look right into the workshop from the store and we asked if it was ok for Anton to have a look, and I must say I enjoyed it myself a lot. The owner came up to Anton, tried his best German and let Anton touch the cow and pig leather, showed him a magnetic button and the sewing machine. It was so incredibly friendly. After a long selection process I bought two bags one with the potential of being swiped off me in 15 years by my son. We walked out there very happy.
Dinner again was traditional food we found after some walking around and a toddler football game with Anton and some local kids in font of a church. Just before dinner Anton danced with a local girl in the street, about his age, and when she left she came up to him and gave him a big smack on the mouth. Life as a child is wonderful! 😉

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