Monday, June 9, 2014

Granada

The colonial town of Granada isn't far from Volcan Masaya, a short ride and thus plenty of time to find a campground. The only thing we knew of was a campground called George's summerhouse. We had GPS coordinates for it too, so what could possibly go wrong? Well, sometimes Mr Murphy travels with us and Murphy's law states that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Today Mr Murphy was clearly in Granada and made sure we couldn't find a campground. With the benefit of hindsight I quite like Murphy as all his efforts resulted in us finding a great spot right in Granada!

The armed guard walked past our tents at 5 am in the morning. It woke me up and made me feel a little uneasy. What if he had been drinking all night and went bananas? You may laugh at it but he could have easily robbed us at gunpoint! He had all night to do it, shoot us and throw us over the edge in the volcano! Nobody would now, would they?

Lucky he turned out to be the nice guy we thought he was and hadn't been drinking, which means you can read this :-) We rode up to the volcano again and had a sign-language conversation with the lovely family that operate horseback riding along the rim of the volcano. Their son, probably not older than 10 years old, was riding supplies up and down the mountain on his horse. Barefoot and without any fancy gear he rode the horse like it was an extension of his body, eating a mango at the same time.

Traffic in Nicaragua is amazing. Yes, we've been through a lot of Central American countries by now and even Mexico was, well… 'different' to say the least, but Nicaragua has its own style too. We saw horse drawn carts in abundance that morning too. A bus was loading a pile of freshly cut trees through the back door, the passengers weren't even surprised when the centre isle filled up with a pile of wood that locked them in their place.
Our first stop was a hostel we had heard of in Granada, the GPS coordinates were spot on but the info incorrect. They definitely didn't have secure bike parking. 

It was midday, plenty of time and went looking for a campground option. Surely there would be a swimming pool or something where we could camp just outside of Granada? There wasn't. Tuktuks were trundling up and down the road we were on, surely they would know. So we stopped one and asked! Yes there was a campground called Puente Rojo and he would take us there, all we had to do was follow his tuktuk :-) After about 10 km he stopped and pointed us in the direction of… a field! Two goat tracks were just visible, this was not a campground…! He was adamant, follow the tracks until you see the sign for Puente Rojo! So we did… About halfway we met someone walking through the field, 'Puento Rojo?' I asked 'Si' he replied and directed me straight ahead.

We did reach the entry of Puento Rojo but have to this day no idea if there was a campground there or not. The tracks ended at a steep rocky path that could only be walked… We didn't fancy the idea of carrying all our gear up and over and leave the bikes in the field, so we left. 
George's Summerhouse was next on the list. The GPS took us there via the shortest possible route… which meant steep, narrow and winding… great roads! The coordinates turned out to be not for George's summerhouse but a creepy backpackers place called the 'Monkey hut'. Despite plenty of grass and areas made for tent camping, they didn't allow it… Instead they wanted us to book a private room… right.



I asked around the area for George's summerhouse but no-one knew where it was. In the end an elderly woman was asked who had lived there her whole life who said 'there has never been anyone here named George'. Obviously the GPS coordinates were bogus. I had enough by then and suggested to find a hotel for the night with secure parking. It would have been the first hotel of the trip but there was no alternative, or so we thought.

Riding back into Granada, Jeanette spotted a sign for a guesthouse. 'It's something German, could be a good place!' she said through the helmet comm. Helmet comms are invaluable at times like this. Following the signs we found Charlys Guesthouse (which we'll describe in the next post). Secure parking for the bikes, which is always our first priority, and a taxi ride to the town centre can be had from there for a dollar! Great, that's it, don't look any further!

Granada itself is well worth a visit. It's a colonial town with a unique atmosphere of its own. It isn't as grand as San Miguel de Allende but has a charm that makes it well worth a visit. It's a colourful town with typical horse carts and typical Central American chaos. The chaos at the local markets is edging on the bizarre and as we were there close to the wet season with high temperatures and humidity… it was quite an experience. I didn't know I could sweat that much.

The tourist brochures try their best to make you believe you have to go to all these touristy places. You don't. Simply take a local taxi to the centre and walk around. There is so much to see, both in buildings and people, that you can easily spend days there. Well worth a visit are the Chocolate museum, La Merced Iglesia (the Merced Church) where you can climb the tower for a dollar to get a great view over Granada and Mi Museo. Mi Museo is a museum in the Danish Consulate… yes inside the consulate! It's free and well worth a visit. The Danish Consul, Peder Kolind, opened the museum in 2005. It houses a private collection of Nicaraguan Pre-Columbian ceramic and is open to the public at no charge. The collection contains more than 5000 pieces which originate from the period between 2000 BC to 1550 AD. Peder wants the world to know how beautiful indigenous Nicaraguan artefacts are and therefore welcomes everyone to come and look for themselves.

Back at the guesthouse I couldn't help but try something typical German on the menu: Wienerschnitzel. Trying to remember how long it had been since I had a proper Wiener schnitzel… I came to the conclusion that it had been years! Charly didn't disappoint; he can cook! Granada, Nicaragua is a great place to visit, Charly is a great place to stay.
We stayed a couple of days, went into Granada twice and had a lazy afternoon updating this blog and just relaxing.

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