Ah, about to head off to another anonymous island in Lake Nicaragua. After Ometepe, I think I´m over the middle of nowhere now, but maybe this stop will surprise me and be stellar. But after getting into Granada and getting to be in an actual city a few days, I am really not itching to go back. Apparently the next place, Selentiname (sp?) is pretty remote and unvisited and this is the last GAP tour going there, so maybe it´s pretty cool to get to go.
I spent a good chunk of my day exploring the small town of Altagracia on the isle of Ometepe on my own as reported part way in last time. I took a local bus out and got in some net time during the rain and wandering around the small town. I eventually found a local cemetery, which is on my list of cool things – seeing the different burial practices and all. Similar to Yucatan but not as colorful. There were horses and a bull grazing in this one. I didn´t realize about the bull until I was quite close but he seemed content to eat and really didn´t care.
Afterwards, I got a ¨quick¨ lunch in a little restaurant. It was the slowest meal yet – over an hour to get food after ordering. It really is slow time down here. I missed several buses back to the hotel while waiting on lunch. Finally got it and woofed it down and made a run for the central square to find a bus back. Lucky me, the bus that should have left 15 minutes earlier was still sitting in the square, jam packed with people and boarding more and more. I´ve been on a couple of ¨chicken buses¨in Mexico, but this was much more crowded. Lots of kids, so maybe school was out. Not sure, but crowded. Standing room didn´t even really exist. I was one step up from the exit on the stairs. Oh, and it was an old Bluebird school bus made in Fort Valley, Georgia! Surprise, right up the road from home!
The bus finally shoved off, and then stopped several more times to take on more passengers, never dropping any off. I have no idea how they kept squeezing them in. One mother got on the bus, handed her baby to the ticket collector, climbed over everybody and then had her baby passed back to her. It was really a neat experience ONCE!
After getting back, the group re-gathered and most of us went to a rodeo. I won´t go again. Seeing them get the bull riled up once was quite enough. Several of us left early and waited outside for the rest. I´ll try to be neutral and accept it as not my culture, but it was not fun.
Next morning, we made our way up to Granada! Granada is a lot like Merida, Mexico. And in January, it´s as hot as Merida was in May! Whoa! It´s a colonial spanish city like Merida, so that´s where a lot of the similarities come from. In two days, I´ve wandered a lot of the streets and gotten some (I hope) great photos of old spanish architecture, peeling paint, and all.
Yesterday was a tour of Massaya Volcano. There have been several chances but all involved hours and hours of hiking. This is a park and you can literally drive to the crater. Perfect! It was quite a site. No lava visible in the day, but you could see and smell sulfur smoke rising from the crater. Apparently no eruptions since 1772, but still active. We walked around there a bit and then visited a nearby town market and a pottery shop/school. There were some great bargains to be had, and now I just have to hope they can make it home in one piece! Think good thoughts!
After we got back, I walked to the edge of the old city to a giant old cemetery I´d seen on the way in. Fantastic! A half hour walk, but totally worth it as I got there in the best afternoon light. There´s really no way to describe it. I think it may be similar to New Orleans. Tons of mausoleums. Crosses and statuary dotting the cemetery´s skyline. I really could have spent a day there but it was late and I wanted to get back to the centro historico before dark. There were tons of guards in the ecemetery but there were also people sleeping amongst the graves! Not a full fledged city living in the cemetery like we saw in Egypt, but none the less they were there.
This morning, got up early and tried to re-pack everything. We have a charter cessna to ride from Managua to Selentiname island this afternoon. There are weight restrictions for both checked in bags and carry-on. I´m worried about hitting the weight limit on my carry-on since that´s all my camera stuff. So, I tried to re-distribute to the pack anything I wasn´t worried would break. I may have to pay for overage in the checked bag… oh well.
Anyway, that´s it from Granada. I could easily stay here a few more days. Nice city, nice people, but just a taste of it on this trip. Maybe back one day, maybe not. You never know.