Today was another day of rest, this time allowing us to explore the surroundings of Granada in Nicaragua! And a beautiful town it is, too. However, I did have my first experience of tropical rain.
Anna, Kai and I woke up fairly early to get breakfast and some of our laundry done. The laundry place was great – it only cost us a few dollars each and they even iron our clothes, then deliver them to the hotel for us! We felt like Christmas had come early; we really are true travellers now. We got breakfast in a little cafe called “Eurocafe” which was recommended in Lawrence’s guide book, and they did great tea and bagels. A lady came up to me too and asked where I was from as she recognised my accent. She’s only from Orpington which is really near me at home, and her husband is from Bromley! She is called Joy and now lives in Costa Rica. We had a lovely conversation: small world, huh?!
We returned to the hotel for 10.30am where a guide met us, and drove us down to the lake. A group of around ten of us boarded a speedboat, and we were then taken on our three-hour tour of the Isletas de Granada. They are all fairly small – some literally only had trees on them – but there are very many of them, and they are backdropped by a stunning view of one of the local active volcanoes, Mombacho. On our way to our first stop we were offered different types of local fruits which grow on the island. Firstly we tried the ‘nancy’ fruits again, which were still nasty, and another very sweet orange fruit you had to break through the shell to get to, which was very gooey. There was also a small black fruit which tasted like very dry coconut, and was horrible.
We stopped off at the famous “Monkey Island” of the Isletas, where four spider monkeys live. We were allowed to feed then fruit and crackers, which they loved. It is so funny but bizarre, because they are so similar to humans! Nothing else lives on the island except the monkeys, so they are isolated and in effect are in control of their own population.
We then stopped off at an island where a family lives: apparently it is very expensive to live on one of the islands. It was literally an isolated paradise, and it is easy to imagine how you could become so cut off from the rest of the world, particularly as there is so much fruit on the island and you rarely would need to buy food! Whilst we had a look at the flora and fauna of the island, which included some beautiful flowers, different types of mangoes, butterflies and a huge yellow spider, Juan, the tour guide’s friend who lives on the island, prepared us some coconuts, which we drank the milk from through a straw. It was very refreshing and both the coconuts and milk were completely different to those I have tasted when I have bought them in Britain, where they have been imported from different countries.
After the coconut milk a few people went for a swim, and then we were presented with yet another plate of local fruit: mangoes, passion fruit, dragon fruit and banana! It was so full of flavour, although the dragon fruits were so bright purple they had a tendency to dye your face and hands, looking as if you’d had an awful accident! After we were totally fed up with eating fruit we bid goodbye to the family, the island and its animals, and we set off to go back to shore. The scenery of the volcano was amazing, and really made me consider how small I am in comparison to the rest of the world.
Upon our return, Anna, Lawrence, Ashlene, Roger (see, you’ve been mentioned in my blog!) and I ate in another restaurant called the Garden, again under Lawrence’s book’s recommendation. I had the green chicken curry and a strawberry lemonade, which was beautiful, especially with the surrounding greenery and music creating a floral atmosphere. However, whilst we were in there the weather started to absolutely chuck it down, and there was thunder and lightning. When it rains in Central America, it doesn’t do it by halves!
We decided to chance the rain and head to a local market for souvenirs, however they were all packing up because the weather was so bad. We then saw an absolutely beautiful horse-drawn carriage going through town for a funeral, which was sad as well as fitting for the area’s culture. Lawrence then thought it might be nice to check out the churches around the town, as the predominant religion in Central America is Catholicism so the churches are very pretty. They were definitely worth seeing. It’s great walking around town with Lawrence as he spots things and has ideas of what to look for – Anna and I have decided that Lawrence is going to give us an ‘Observation of the Day’ to keep us amused. I will post it on this blog each day!
We ended up going for dinner as a big group to the Garden restaurant again, so I only had something small to eat. It was a lovely evening, although I am slightly concerned at how well people seem to know me already! Kai told me that he “can hear me from 50 metres away (or as they say in England, 50 feet*)!”. A lot of the others have gone out for drinks however I am feeling pretty tired, so I have come back early. We have a 6am start tomorrow to begin our journey to Ometepe island, where we have a home stay. It should be really interesting – wish me luck!
* You can tell Kai doesn’t understand the imperial system…