Jan 7, 2020

Visiting Granada, Nicaragua

I have been to Granada, Nicaragua, several times in the last 25 years and impressed with how it has improved over the years.  I didn’t stay in Granada this year but took a day trip to Granada with stops along the way.  Our first stop was at an overlook in Caterina, one of the highest hills surrounding the Apoyo Lagoon, and the view was superb. We could see the whole lagoon as well as Lake Nicaragua behind it and Mombacho Volcano which borders the lake,

In Granada we took a boat tour of  Las Isletas. Years ago John and I wanted to take the tour but it was a troubled time and we couldn’t find a boat to take us. The islets are a group of 365 small islands of volcanic origin formed when the Mombacho Volcano erupted thousands of years ago. We stopped by an island to feed the spider monkeys, saw a herd of cattle swimming
from one island to another, plenty of birds, and some high-end getaway homes of the wealthy of Nicaragua including former presidents.  One had a heliport.  If we had known we would have had brunch on at the restaurant on the one of the islets but instead we ate in Granada where our Nicaraguan waiter had lived in Brooklyn for ten years.  

The city of Granada is well-preserved with the beautiful cathedral on the main square.  The interior was being painted with impressive ceiling murals.  There were plenty of places to eat and shop but on the way to the Masaya Volcano we stopped in Masaya to shop at the
Mercado del las Artesanias, aka craft market, bright with the colorful crafts of Nicaragua. My days of collecting souvenirs is over so I sat and chatted with the friendly people who stopped by, mostly Nicaraguans who had returned to spend the Christmas holidays with family.  

Since I last visited the Masaya Volcano it has erupted or stirred a couple of times but the major eruption was in 4550 BC. It was one of largest eruptions in the last 10,000 years. There is now a good access road with a museum on the way.  It is a national park so there is an entry fee, per person, more for foreigner and more if you want to go at night when it is

easier to see the red magma.  While at the museum, which is being remodeled, there were two large Mennonite families. The young boy I talked to spoke excellent English but had never been to the States.  His grandparents moved to Nicaragua.  We have seen several Mennonite families in Latin America. 

There is high viewing area where it is possible to see the red-hot magma at the bottom.  It wasn’t like that when I visited 25 years ago when it was hard to see into the volcano and it was mainly gray rocks along the side.  Nicaragua is on the Ring of Fire as is the entire West Coast of the Americas.  In fact, a few days later we felt a few shakes from the 5.5 earthquake that was about 35 miles south of us in Costa Rica.  I called it a “tourist earthquake” – just a couple tremors and then nothing.  It was a great day trip.  For our day trip we hired a driver and van for $160 – great value – there were eight of us and it lasted from 6 a. m. to 10 p.m. because we went grocery shopping and stopped for dinner on the way home.