Friday, March 9, 2018

Day 2: Granada

Today started with breakfast at 7 am of scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, toast, fresh fruit, juice and coffee. We met our local guide for the day, Gino, and in planning out our agenda, we decided that rather than spend the day entirely on the bus we would use "volantas" which are 4-person carriages pulled by horses.

Our first stop was the Fuerte La Polvora, which was built in 1748 and is being renovated as a museum.

We then traveled a few blocks to the oldest cemetery in Central America. It felt a lot like New Orleans, as everything is above ground. We also learned that in Nicaragua, cremations are allowed only in Managua and no other city.

We then traveled to a couple of churches; at one we were able to climb a very narrow, steep staircase to get to the bell tower where we had a beautiful 360° view of Granada.
At this point we bid farewell to our volantas, and walked a few blocks to a city market, where we were able to sample a local drink called grama (similar to a sweet tea) made with a native grass that grows near the volcano. Delicious!
We continued on to the Convento San Francisco and spent about an hour touring the grounds and our guide Gino explained a lot about the artistic and cultural heritage of the city and region.
Leaving the Convento, we took a short bus ride to Lake Nicaragua where we boarded a boat for an hour tour. There are dozens of small islands in the lake, and lots of inhabitants - people and animals.

Our lunch was at Cafe de Las Sonrisas (The Smile Cafe). We had a wonderful lunch of burritos and shredded cabbage and carrots. For dessert, we were served a baked banana dish; however, the rule during dessert was that we couldn't speak but had to find other ways to communicate than our voices. We found out that the owner, Tío Antonio, hires young adults who have some type of disability that would usually keep them from being employed. He also, besides the restaurant, has a hammock- making business. We were able to try our hand at hammock weaving and took a group photo on the "world's largest hammock".

After lunch, we stopped at a local supermarket to shop for snacks, drinks, and toiletries. Upon returning to our hotel, we had time to relax (nap) and enjoy the pool.  Dinner was at 6:30pm - beef fajitas, rice and fresh avocado, dessert was ice cream and cookies. I can speak for the entire group when I say we are well-fed!!

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