Hostal Oasis – Granada, Nicaragua 7:40 pm local time
Well I’ve survived my first two days away! Tomorrow I plan to leave the city of Granada and move on to Isla de Ometepe which is an island cornerstoned by two volcanoes emerging from Lake Nicaragua.
The last time I wrote I was in the Houston airport hopeful that I would still arrive in Managua at my scheduled time of 9:09pm. As it turns out, my last plane ended up being delayed by about an hour meaning that I didn’t land in Managua until 10pm. As soon as I exited the plan into the jetbridge I was immediately hit with the familiar but somewhat comforting smell of hot, humid, stagnant air that I have experienced in other places such as Thailand, Bali, and Cuba. However, my comfort level dissipated after I collected my luggage and passed through customs and a mob of men (some holding signs with people’s names on them and some just holding generic taxi signs) became visible through the sliding glass airport exit doors. This is a scene that I have become familiar with after spending time in SE Asia but this was also why I had prebooked a ride; so that I could avoid the overwhelming pressure of deciphering just how many times I should say “no thanks” before deciding that one person, for no specific reason, is deemed more eligible than others to take me to my destination. The problem was that, though I saw many men holding signs, I did not see any man holding a sign with MY name on it. Eventually I felt a tap on my shoulder and there was my man! I guess he had seen me wandering through the crowds and decided to end my misery…plus he probably wanted to get out of there just as much as I did.
Despite the fact that he spoke very little English and I speak very, very little Spanish, we were able to actually have a bit of a conversation during the drive. From what I understood, these are the main points of our conversation:
- Managua is the “capital” of Nicaragua but Granada is the “heart” of the country
- There are currently many Canadians in Nicaragua
- A lot of people think he is crazy. Note: he did have a very maniacal laugh. When I asked his if he is actually crazy he said no, people just think he is…which was
- There are a lot of dogs that run across the streets. He explained that most drivers will just hit them but he tries to slow down, give a little honk, and let them cross. I appreciated this very much but then, about 10 minutes later, we massacred a cat. Luckily, I did not actually see the cat running out into the street so I only had to emotionally deal with the traumatic experience of hearing it’s little body get thrown around under the car.
Now, this last point highlights something I had not emotionally prepared myself for. The amount of street dogs in this city is overwhelming and my heart breaks every time I see a skinny, malnourished dog, one with an obvious medial problem and mangled fur, or one wandering near the side of the highway doomed to meet the same fate of that poor cat (ironically, I have not seen any other cats at all) but what can I do?! I’m hoping the street dogs are more of a city thing and that when I move on to smaller places I can return to living in blissful ignorance.
Besides avoiding eye contact with the sad puppies, I spent yesterday just walking around the city of Granada. It is a very colonial city and reminds me a little bit of Havana, Cuba. A lot of old churches but newer and much more beat up cars. I’ve also never been so obviously ogled so much in my life. The men have no issues with looking you up and down and declaring you to be “very beautiful!” or “Muy bonita!” Everybody here wears jeans in 30 degree weather so I think it’s the sight of legs that gets them excited. They really don’t care what you look like from the thigh up.
Today I went to Laguna de Apoyo which is a crater that formed 20,000 or so years ago from a volcanic explosion. It was very pretty and I felt immediately comfortable sitting by the water. I got my first bit of colour which also mean my first bit of burn (despite multiple sunscreen applications) but it’s ok because sand, water, beaches, and nothing to do but to read a book or nap is my happy place. I also overheard a girl (travelling with three boys) say that she had gotten robbed yesterday on the street outside so I made it an early night and made sure I was back to my hostel before dark so now I have all evening to lounge in the hammocks, read, write, and listen to music.