07/22/2008 - 07/24/2008
We arrived in Managua two hours late due to delays in Houston. Managua is pretty much like any other large city in Central America. It is home to the international airport, and that's about the only reason to go there. We spent the night, and then caught a taxi to UCA station the following morning.
UCA is the main bus depot in Managua. It's a wild and hectic place. However, it's very easy to catch a bus. It's also very cheap (about $1 per person). Guys hang out of the doorways of different buses, waving their arms and yelling the names of different destinations..."Granada!, Granada!, Granada!". If you hold up your hand, they will slow down to let you jump in.
Granada is a quaint little colonial town, with a strong Spanish influence. It has a very European feel. The main square is surrounded by coffee bars and restaurants. Most of the store and home fronts are painted in variety of bright colors. The town center reminded us a lot of Antigua, Guatemala, which we visited a few years ago.
Parque Colon is the center of activity, and the Cathedral de Granada serves as a vibrant focal point for the town. The cathedral is painted bright yellow, has four chapels, and impressive domes with stained glass.
One of the oldest remaining churches is Iglesia De La Merced. Built in 1539, it has been pillaged by pirates and damaged by war. The interior of the church has some beautiful stained glass images and paintings. We climbed the bell tower, which gave us an exceptional view of Granada and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, it's the rainy season and cloud cover obstructed our view of Volcano Mombacho.
The town is easy to walk around. It's also very easy to catch inexpensive taxis. However, we learned today that some drivers take multiple fares, and you may need to scoot over to make room for other passengers getting in and out along the way.
There are also horse and carriages available, and we decided to hire one to take us on a brief tour of the city. All of the horses are decked out with colorful ribbons.
Today, we ventured out to Lago de Nicaragua and took a boat tour around Las Isletas. Formed by the Volcano Mombacho, this is a group of 360 small islands with mangrove trees, rare birds, and colorful flowers. Many of Nicaragua's wealthiest families have built homes on these small islands. The home pictured below belongs to the Pellas family. They have a stake in just about everything, including Toyota dealerships, Victoria beer, BAC (a large Central American bank), etc.
Our next stop is San Juan Del Sur, a small town located on the Pacific coast.
Steve & Ann