The Adventures of Princess Traveler, Nicaragua: My Name is Traveler NOT Grace
We decided our first trip outside of Managua would be to the colonial city of Granada. Colonial because it was originally a Spanish settlement. Established in 1524 Granada is the oldest colonial community in Central America. It’s streets are narrow and much of the architecture is very old. Some of the major sites include the Antiquo Convento San Francisco (now a museum), the waterfront, Las Isletas, and Volcan Mombacho.
The previous afternoon we contacted DeTour Nicaragua [I highly recommend this travel agency to anyone visiting Nicaragua. Juan and his staff know exactly how to treat a princess.] to hire a driver and guide for the day trip to Granada. The cost was very reasonable, and we did not have to worry about navigating any of Nicaragua’s very challenging roads. Don’t get me wrong. Managua and other cities in this country have very modern freeways and highways, but outside the cities you take your chances.
Ulises our guide and Alvaro our driver met us at our hotel promptly at 8:00 AM. This surprised me because I had expected them to arrive a good thirty to sixty minutes later—pretty much a standard for Nicaraguan appointments. The drive to Granada took about an hour allowing for stops, starts and swerves to avoid pedestrians, horse carts, cattle herds and other interesting obstacles. All were encountered with a calm and nonchalance that you would never see in an American city where the least obstacle is greeted with curses and impatience. Dream Man and I prefer the Nicaraguan approach by far.
At Granada, which sits wedged between the foot of Volcan Mombacho [yes volcan = Volcano] and the southern edge of Lake Nicaragua, we began our site-seeing with an hour long boat ride through Las Isletas. This enchanting series of islets, where many of the richest Nicaraguans have vacation homes, is the result of volcanic explosions that occurred millennia ago. Those islets not overtaken by humans remain inhabited by a rich variety of wildlife, including but not limited to birds, frogs, snakes and monkeys. We had fun watching children from another boat tossing food to the monkeys who were eager to snap up the treats then beg for more.
After the boat ride we spent several hours walking the streets of Granada. It was in the stunning Catedral de Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, built in 1583 that I discovered why my name is Princess Traveler and not Princess Grace. I am always moving and always looking ahead [or in the case of the cathedral looking up]. Grace would watch where she placed her feet, move fluidly to a vantage point, stop and then look up. I on the other hand tried to do all at once. In the process I did not see the kneeling bench that had gotten shoved out into the aisle where I was walking. Dream man tells me that I fell very slowly. My lungs don’t agree. I hit the marble flooring with enough momentum to knock my breath away.
Stupidly my first concern was that I had broken the camera and my phone. Thankfully nothing was broken although I bruised a knee, my chest and my forehead. I did not see stars only the plaster face of the Virgin looking sorrowful as if she, the Queen of Heaven, could not imagine such a clumsy princess existed.
Hands reached out from everywhere to help me to my feet. I clung to my dream man for a moment before sitting down. I insisted he go on with Ulises so I could rest and recover my breath. I took the time to say a prayer of thanks that the consequences of my fall had been small and for the kindness Nicaraguans extended to a stranger.
We had a lovely lunch after touring the city then set out for the market at Masaya. The market targets tourists (big surprise), but I wanted to see it nonetheless. In existence since the establishment of the city, the market today is divided into hundreds of covered stalls where a tourist can purchase everything from hand woven hammocks to pottery to large bottles of Flor Cana (Nicaragua’s national Rum). We indulged ourselves by purchasing Christmas gifts for friends and relatives then returned to Managua for more swimming and relaxation. I’m delighted that I visited Granada a vibrant and enchanting city, but I am Princess Traveler, and despite my stumble, I am always looking ahead. Tomorrow, Parrots.
Please let me know about an occasion when you stumbled but got up again and continued on.