Thursday, November 14, 2013

Final Countdown in Granada, Nicaragua! November 6 - 14, 2013

It's amazing how time just flows one day into the other when you settle in and "live" in a place.  Such is the case during this last week and half here in Granada.  The pattern of living for us has been a leisure morning with coffee, emails, Facebook, world news, and exercise.  Lunch at home, then out and about for whatever...pool time, walking about town to discover new neighborhoods, or trying to have a day at home.  Ha!! The later is sooo impossible!!  I guess I've exhausted the subject matter of noise on our corner so let's just suffice it to say it hasn't gone away.  So won't miss this part of Granada!!

Here's a few pictures taken while out and about town:

La Merced Church

La Merced Church

La Merced Bell Tower
Xalteva Park

Xalteva Church where a nun said I was a "little doll".  :)

The horse & buggy taxis that are charming and everywhere here in Granada.

Maria Auxilladora Church

The inside of La Polvora Fort.

The walls of the fort.

A typical neighborhood where the residents sit out in the street or on the sidewalk in their rockers because there are no front yards or porches.  Rockers are the main seating in every home.

The front of a very nice home.

The oldest home in Granada.


A day out at the market.

The market area, which is only 2 blocks from our home.
After our walk about town on Wednesday, we decided to eat at O'Shea's on Calzado.  The bbq ribs are excellent!! But while there, we met another couple, Shirley and Chuck Schmidt. They had some Off, which I needed desperately!! Turns out they live here and own a home that they just renovated, which is right around the corner from our place.  Before even knowing our names, they invited us back to their place for dessert!  This is what's so great about being out and about as much as we are.

Their home is lovely and the dessert was terrific!! A great evening spent getting to know each other and talking about all of our adventures.  Between us, we had some fantastic stories!

Mondays, Thursdays, and Sundays are football times for Mike at Margarita's.  And, Marti and I meet up to do whatever us girls feel like doing.  Last Thursday we both went to Margarita's with Mike (Steve is in the states visiting his mom) but we had our wine out on the front walk and people watched along the Calzado until a huge storm came blowing in from west, which is very unusual! 

Usually storms come in from the east over the lake.  So when we got home, we found our whole living room (sala) flooded!  Remember how I told you that our house was not enclosed?  Well, there you go - the water came in under the doors after flooding the streets and running over the sidewalk.  No big deal since there isn't much furniture and what is there is wicker and the floor is tile. But, it was quite an unpleasant surprise.

Friday's are for gathering with other expats at the Grill House where we got serenaded and thus began a bit of dancing.  This last week Marti, Mike and I went back to La Pizzaiol for dinner afterwards and shared a wonderful homemade Italian pizza made by the Italian owners.  If you ever get to Granada, this is a must!

On Saturday, we decided to go back to Hotel Granada where we met a couple from the Canary Islands.  He is a photographer and was getting many people there to do underwater moves for him to film.  Mike got really involved and I got sucked in for a couple. A bit of fun like little kids!

Ready, set ...

Not Mike!!  Ouch!!

A not so flattering picture of either of us!! LOL

Sunday, Marti and I went to the pool and I had another wonderful massage by Teo.  Sure could become a habit if we lived here!!  $15 for massage, $5 for the pool, and $5 for 2 drinks.  Another storm came in from the lake but this one didn't pass over.  Instead it hung around, so Mari and I walked over to catch up with Mike for a bit.

Mike went back to the doctor on Monday, as he still wasn't back to par. Same diagnosis and back on meds for a longer period of time.  Let's hope this cures the ails!  We're wondering if we aren't allergic to the laundry soap - him more than me.

Wanting to do one more excursion before we leave the area, we decided to take the 5 hour journey up to Mombacho  Volcano, which we see every day we come out of our house to the south.  This volcano is not dormant but not highly active.  And, since Steve is still gone, Marti decided to join us, as well.

There were 7 of us that gathered Tuesday morning, another couple from Australia and one from Canada.  A nice group to spend a bit of time with. 

The drive up is quite a thrill all by itself!  We stopped once to see the Howler monkeys along the road.  Made me realize how much I do miss them waking me up every morning like they did in Costa Rica.  And then a stop at a coffee plantation where we tasted scrumptious brewed coffee and I bought my next month's pound.


Our trusty steed to get us up the mountain!

From there our climb up to 1,100 meters or 3,609' was up a 4 wheel only slippery cobbled narrow road that was steep and windy.  As we got closer to the peak, we  became enshrouded in the clouds and mist.  It seems that there are only snatches of sunlight at the top, if you're lucky.

Our hike was around one of the four cauldrons and it took us through beautiful dense jungle.  The temperature had dipped about 15 degrees and with the light rain and mist, it was quite cool and very breezy.  It was a welcome respite to heat for a bit but we were glad to get back to being warm and dry. We certainly enjoyed the adventure but we wouldn't put it at the top of our must do again list.

A mock up of the volcano.

This is the beginning.....

Hard to see inside the crater! 

And, what goes down, MUST come up!

I changed hats because of the wind & rain.

A "tube" that opened in the 1500s due to a huge earthquake that allowed the lake in the crater to empty through the tube causing huge landslides and killing a village of indigenous.

Beautiful fungus.

Tiny orchids.

Cloud line with Granada and Isletas below in the sun.

350 Isletas formed by an eruption of the volcano.

A large orchid that only blooms once a year.

A heat tube.  A free facial!

Clouds rolling back in.



A very wet and mossy bridge.

Due to lack of sleep - still - I decided to stay in at home on Wednesday and suffer through the noise.  I just wasn't up for going out.  So, Mike headed out to go to the bank, the book store, and see the pottery museum that we walked by every time we went to the pool.  He's so glad he did!

An American owns the pottery museum and he charges nothing to tour it! It's a beautiful old colonial hacienda facility with many fabulous pieces of Nicaraguan history.  All collected by this gentleman on his own for sharing with anyone whose interested in coming through.

It turns out our new friend, Tucker, just bought a beach house in San Juan del Sur and needs to move one of his two cars down.  So he's invited us to drive one and him the other on Friday.  A nice way to move to our next home for a month rather than taking the shuttle. 

The shuttles here are a great way to move around the country for only $12/person one way including luggage. So don't hesitate to take them here.  The other option are the "coasters", which we saw allot in Panama.  They are smaller buses and quite comfortable to get around and very cost effective for longer distances.  Taxis in town will take you anywhere in town for only 10 cordobas or $.41! 

We're packing it all up today in preparation for our departure tomorrow morning. Tonight we'll be meeting up with a few folks to have a last hoorah at the Grill House and then dinner out with Marti.

While packing, we think we discovered the crux of our allergies but Mike's especially!  MOLD - lots of mold!!   With the high humidity, concrete walls, rainy season with tremendous downpours, and enclosed closet space, Mike pulled out a pair of leather walking shoes he had worn just a couple of weeks ago and they were covered and I mean covered in mold!!  I had also found his leather toiletry bag covered in mold yesterday from being enclosed under the bathroom sink.  A/C is a MUST, if for nothing but turning it on an hour a day to pull out all of the moisture.  But because this house is so totally open, you couldn't enclose enough to make a difference without a lot of renovation work.

Again, the hardest part about moving on is the saying "See ya later! Y'all come see us now!"  We've made such good friends and will miss them terribly!  We're already making plans, hopefully, for Steve and Marti to come see us in San Juan del Sur. What's great about this country, is that most of the people live in a very small area of the country, so getting to see friends you've made is fairly easy if you live in another area.
Granada's been good to us and we really do like the charm of the colonial town, the ease of walking everywhere to get anything, the cleanliness (not so much around the market area), the beautiful friendly people, plenty to do and see, and lots of good restaurants. It certainly is cost effective and close to the US. So many good things about this town but .... we're not ready to make a decision. Still so much to see of this beautiful world of ours!!

Our budget will be posted again as a separate post so that it gets the attention that it should.  One observation already though is that we spent WAY more than we expected because we were always trying to get away from the house for as long as possible because of the noise.  It is definitely a place where you can get good drinks and food for way less than in the states.  Rents are NOT as inexpensive as we thought they would be for what we're looking for. And, there are definitely places to avoid if you're on a decent budget because they will blow it to smithereens!!

So we're off to our next adventure on this journey of ours.  Stay tuned.....

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