We decided to splurge for New Year's on a nice weekend in Granada, one of the few places likely to have a New Year's party. This is because Granada is chock full of expats and tourists, being a beautiful 400 year old city with well-upkept architecture.
We left the village of El Jocote at 5:30 am on the 30th, just after I (Kate) had recovered from being pretty darned sick for a night. After a quick stop by the office in Managua to get clean clothes and a shower, we were in Granada and checked into our hotel at about 2 pm. We immediately felt the culture shock - from the tiny village of El Jocote...
...to the touristy streets of Granada...
...in less than twelve hours. Whoosh!
We got ourselves oriented and headed off to check out the town. Granada has all the trappings of a Central American city, including a crazy municipal market:
with crazy looking drinks for sale:
so that made us feel better (the reality of it all, not the drinks - no way were we drinking something with those colors). We found our way to the beach of Lake Nicaragua, which was not super touristy:
It was, in fact, really buggy, and the waves were bringing in pretty dirty water. So Granada was beginning to feel a little less Disney-ish to us.
Then we went to dinner. I was looking for something that did not include rice and beans, having recently been sick after many days of rice and beans, and boy did I get it. We sat in the inner garden of a beautiful colonial house that was converted to a restaurant and had vegetable-pesto goodness, not something you find in El Jocote.
The next day, we went on a walk around the streets of Granada,
checking out the colonial houses from the outside, both upkept and not.
Like most towns around here, Granada has lots of pretty churches:
the last of which had its belltower open:
The views from up there were stunning:
...and the staircase was something else:
The craziest thing about all of this is that Granada, like Managua and Leon, has been devastated by earthquakes several times in its history, and all of these churches have been rebuilt.
But Granadians know their fixer-uppers:
Even the government gets in on it, as in the case of the old hospital that is crumbling, but will get a facelift (more pictures of this later):
And so went our walking tour. We could have taken the easy way out and gone on one of the famous tourist carriage rides:
but we like to walk and sweat and sweat and walk.
The major reason we were there, of course, was for the New Year's party on the tourist strip. We headed out at 8 pm, and had a good time going from restaurant to restaurant, sitting at their tables in the street, watching the crazy tourists and expats:
We also made sure to fully enjoy the treats we don't get in the village. This is Jeff's second piece of key lime pie:
A parade came by with an effigy of an old man, signifying the old year, that they burn at midnight:
And of course, at midnight, there were fireworks. This time, though, they weren't just the noisy ones - pretty ones were included!
The next day, the town was dead. Everything was closed, including most restaurants. One place, Kathy's Waffle House, was open, though - we had to wait an hour, but mmmmmmmmmm waffles!
The next morning we took off for Managua again to get back to work. Granada was a great break, but due to the very non-Nicaraguan feel of the place, I was glad to head back to the real world. However, should the need for an American style break arise again, I'll know where to go.
One last note: A lot of our time was spent taking pictures, since Granada is so fantastically photogenic. Here's a sampling.
The rest are from the old hospital: