When I first arrived, the heat coupled with not being able to flush toilet paper and the looming threat of poison water made it hard for me to see Granada as a place I would enjoy being for two long weeks. The water hasn't hurt me (and we have met many MANY expats who drink the tap water daily), the toilet paper in the trash can thing is becoming second nature and the heat... well I'm adjusting. The constant barrage of peddlers is dwindling, as I get used to giving them the proper glance and saying, "lo tengo" with the proper accent (it's usually true that I have already purchased whatever it is they are offering.) Isla's heat rash is subsiding (thank you lavender oil.) All of these things adjusting has been - relief.
We took two days and went to San Juan Del Sur but I don't have many things to say about that. The beach is in an urban environment so we saw lots of floating trash. It seems San Juan Del Sur is a starting point for the surfers that come to Nicaragua. They stay and eat there but they surf elsewhere. Unfortunately , we didn't get a chance to visit any of the more remote beaches. We had a nice time but it wasn't love for a family traveling. If you are familiar with Daytona Beach it felt like a Nicaraguan Daytona, with brown sand instead of white. Our hotel of choice was Pelican Eyes. I will write a review on that and then update with a link when I get a chance.
We did a caldera hike around the smallest of Mombacho's 4 calderas this past Saturday. I love you Mombacho! You had me at monkeys, wild monkeys... BABY MONKEYS! Not something you see everyday is America. Then, you add a sloth, butterflies, 3 different forest types, smoke holes and a view for miles and you just can't help but fall in love. The air was crisp and cool. The ride up the volcano on an off-road vehicle enchanted the kiddos. It's probably the cleanest air we have breathed, sulfur and all. Our guide, Jovani from the Hotel San Fransisco was fantastic and knowledgable! We stopped along the way to discuss many different types of plants. The rainforest atmosphere, which I hadn't experienced before was peaceful. The park wasn't very busy either so it was us and nature that day. A must see on any trip to Nicaragua.
I wish I could say the same about Masaya. The city tour was well done but the city just isn't my jam. The Fort El Coyotepe, run by the local boyscouts, was interesting... in a torture and human suffering sort of way. The market is full of souvenirs, but many of the options feel mass produced and not necessarily made in Nicaragua or by Nicaraguans. My favorite stores for souvenirs are in Granada: The Garden Cafe and Tio Antonio's Hammock Shop that is a work project for local Nicaraguans. If those stores don't have what you want one of the tents in the square or the peddlers most certainly will and you don't have to travel to Masaya. Currently, the active volcano park is closed (Masaya Volcano.) We probably wouldn't have gone even if it was open only because the air is really bad around the volcano and the kids are so little, many people wear masks when visiting and I doubt my one year old would keep that on her face. We did go to a look-out to see the active volcano, looking across Masaya lake. The view would have beautiful if it wouldn't have been for the piles of trash and the fact that the lake is polluted. The country of Nicaragua has bigger problems, like starving children so please don't think I am placing trash pick-up over that but I am saying that protecting your land will help improve your food supply and more importantly your water supply for your citizens. It will probably take a lot to turn around the instinct we have witnessed to just toss your trash on the side of the road but hopefully that can improve one day.
Back in Granada, we have had several rain storms while here and they know how to do rain! It dumps, thunders and lightnings. One storm knocked out the water for awhile while the other flooded our courtyard, the kitchen and one of the bedrooms of our rental home. Luckily, our room was spaired, albeit narrowly.
Our last planned excursion, and by planned I mean decided on a few days ago, was to Laguna De Apoyo. LA, as I am going to refer to it, is a body of fresh water in an old volcano caldera. We had been recommended to visit the Laguna Beach Club located on LA. Our day there was perfection. The water is like bath water, with spots of cooler water if you are extra hot. It's clean, thank you Nicaragua for protecting this natural resource. For $6 per adult we were able to kayak, swim, stand-up paddle board, play ping pong, bocce ball, have access to bathrooms/changing rooms and a resturant and bar. Our ride there and back in a new large van was $65 for 5 people (you can find cheaper but with 2 very small kids we went with a driver we trusted.) The club is small but it has everything you need and then some. Bring plenty of sunscreen because the sun is rough on the water. Near the shore/beach the water is shallow and clear but get further out and it quickly drops off. The beach club even had life vests for the kids! I highly recommend spending at least a day on LA. We might be heading back for another day before we leave.
Originally published on my old blog, Babies and Borders in April 2016