Old Colonial Town Next to a Lake with Sharks:.
I came and saw how organize and beautiful Managua is. I was out of the airport around 8:30 a.m., and the weather was cool on December a week before New Years Eve, 2017 was almost out, and what a great year full of adventures. This new one was happening in Nicaragua this time.
I decided that I was going to stay for 2 days in Managua, and to visit the towns close by. The first day I called it on visiting Granada.
Granada is a colonial town south of Managua, about 45 minutes away on a private shuttle. On the way I passed by other cities in which Masaya outstanded the most, because it happens to have a famous crafts market that dates from the 1700’s, when the Spanish conquerors were ruling in Central America. They used to trade tools for gold with the indigenous community that gathered in Masaya’s local market. Nowadays, the market remains to be a place of trading, not for gold this time, but with Cordobas, which it’s the national currency, the name Cordoba comes from honoring the Spanish Captain Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, founder of the cities of Granada and Leon. Also, US Dollar it’s accepted in almost any place, at the moment the exchange between US $ and Cordoba it’s about 30 Cordobas per 1 US $.
So, after visiting Masaya’s Crafts Market, I headed to Masaya Volcano, an actual active volcano, maybe the most active volcano in the region, next to Fuego Volcano in Guatemala. The legend says, that the lava lake inside the crater, it’s one of the 6 doors to hell. It’s a national park that charges 100 Cordobas entrance during the day, night entrances are allowed, and I heard it’s better to visit at night, because you can actually watch the lava lake, fuming with sulfur. The spectacle during the day was still amazing, because the clouds and fumes above the crater have a reflection of the lava inside the crater, and it gives the clouds an orange color. Plus having the view from atop overlooking the large field covered with dry lava from explosions from the past it’s an epic apocalyptic view. Totally worth it! I wanted to head down to the caves, but apparently after the last explosion of the volcano it’s super dangerous, which it’s not a problem for me, but also prohibited now.
I headed with my crew to Granada to experience the story told by a city that used to be the capital of Nicaragua for many years. A city that holds stories about pirates setting fire to it twice, a city that learned how to keep them away, and fight them back, and to hold them using forts with cannons on top of its walls.
Granada rests at the shore of the Great Lake of Nicaragua, or as locals call it, Cocibolca Lake, the biggest lake in Central America, with a surface of more than 8,000 square kilometers, and filled with many cays or small islands, 365 according to my guide, one for each day of the year. The story of the cays come from one of the explosions of the volcano next to Granada, Mombacho Volcano. One important thing to add to this particular lake, it’s that it’s filled with sharks! Yes, big ones, but apparently shy, because thankfully I didn’t saw any, and as a surfer I really don’t ever want to see one less than a meter from me. Also, there are fancy houses in this cays, some cays are even for sale. So if you feel like owning your own private island, this might be the chance for you to come and check some out.
Granada has wide gastronomical options, being Vigoron the city’s main dish. Vigoron it’s a dish served with salad, yuca and pork skin. Not for everyone I guess, but delicious all the same. One thing that outstands from Nicaragua, and that makes Nicaraguan proud, it’s their meat, both pork and beef. And they are right to be proud, because of all the beef I ate that day I think I have enough for the year to end. I just couldn’t help it, different cuts with so many different flavours, it was just an explosion of flavours inside my mouth.
Granada has a street nearby the main plaza filled with smalls cafes, bars and restaurants. And also, the Chocolate Museum it’s in this street. Cacao it has an economic story in all the countries in Central America, once to be used to be the currency used for trading. And of course, the delight one takes after eating just a few, or a lot, of cacao crushed seeds goes back when the royalty of the indigenous communities used to be the only ones allowed to taste.
The architecture of the Cathedral in the plaza it’s nice in details. With two towers on the sides, and a dome in the center, painted entirely with a yellow mustard color. Inside there are a few paintings on the ceiling, and it has a high roof, that helps to keep it cool on the hottest days.
Walking around the city made tired, even after drinking one of the most delicious coffees I’ve had so far, so I decided to visit the famous Seesight of Catarina, which is nearby Masaya, and that overlooks the beautiful Apoyo Lagoon. Once there, I went on to sit down and appreciate the green mountains that surround the lake, and in the horizon it’s possible to see the Great Lake of Nicaragua.
Definitely a great choice to take this tour to start my time in Nicaragua. I cannot wait to keep on exploring more of this big land of tasteful meats, breathtaking views, and cool weather.
Little Corn Island, here I come!
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Posada de San Geronimo