Monday, February 21, 2011

on the road: Nicaragua

I was so happy and excited to visit my sister Thayer in Nicaragua for a few too short days.  She's a Peace Corps volunteer and aside from a hiccup that cut my trip by a night and a half day, it was perfect.  Because of said hiccup, we redid our itinerary and stayed in Granada the entire time and made day trips to near by spots.

When I first arrived in Managua, Thayer was right there at the airport and navigated us to a cab.  I could see right away the ease in which she moved in a country so foreign to our own.  I was simply hot as the sun radiated on us.  We went back to the hotel she was staying in (she was in the capital for a routine medical check up) and picked up her friend and fellow volunteer, Katie.  The three of us walked to get some lunch and I inquired about Katie's experience as a Nicaraguan.

(Katie & Thayer walking in Managua)

After lunch, we said goodbye for now to Katie and Thayer and I grabbed a bus to Granada, an hour away.  We checked into our hotel, which was lovely and in an old Colonel mansion.  We sat by the pool and planned our itinerary for the rest of the trip.

(Hotel Spa Granada courtyard)

(tour guide Thayer)

Later that night, we met up with another volunteer Sonia and her father for dinner.  We walked around the main square a bit.  Granada was having a poetry festival that weekend and there was a concert we watched for a bit before having a beer at one of the spots on what Thayer calls "Gringo Alley."

 (poetry festival "rock" concert)

("gringo alley")

The next day, Thayer and I grabbed a shuttle to Laguna de Apollo.  On the way there, I fell in love with the driver's dog, Lyka.  As with any other Latin American country, there are dogs everywhere and of course you can't pet them, so Lyka fulfilled that need.  When we got there, we went to this hostel on the lake and spent the afternoon swimming, reading, sleeping and the like.  Thayer and I got sandwiches in Granada, so we got a beer from the hostel and had lunch on the dock.  It was a sublime day.
 (Laguna de Apollo)

(The Monkey Hut - hostel at the Lagoon)


When we got back, Thayer and I did some walking around to explore a bit.  I loved the colonial style of some of the buildings.  Granada is one of the few cities with its architecture in tact despite it's very long civil war. 

Later, we went to Luis's house for dinner.  Luis is a Peace Corps volunteer whose site is Granada and he was having a bunch of volunteers over to cook.  We had a great time just sitting outside and talking.  Then we went back to gringo alley for one final drink before calling it a night.

The next day, Thayer and I got up to do a canopy tour at the Volcano Mombato.  It was a ton of fun and a great way to see the jungle.  You could hear all the birds and howler monkeys (and we even saw one).
(Volcano Mombato)

After we got back, Thayer and I walked down to Lago Granada.  The poor thing is so dirty, but it was a nice walk and cool to look back at the city.

Then it was time for lunch, showers and a nap.  After, we went to one of the churches on top of the bell tower - it really was beautiful.

Then it was out for a night of fun and dancing with the rest of the volunteers left in town.  We hopped around until we settled on a salsa club to dance the night away.  It was really a great way to spend the last night.

(Katie & Sonia get it started)

The next day only left time to pack, eat breakfast, catch a bus back to Managua and go straight to the airport.  A bit of a teary goodbye to my sister was the worst, but I'm so glad I went.  Nicaragua is still trying to find its identity, but is a proud and beautiful country with friendly people.  A too short trip, indeed.