When I flew into Managua and stepped off the plane, I knew I was somewhere far and away from anything I had known as familiar. That was exactly the beauty of Nicaragua. Here you won't find a modern American city uprooted and replanted as some resort with English speaking locals and a McDonald's on every corner. After clearing customs, I was whisked away by my driver that the bed-and-breakfast owners had sent for me from Granada. He spoke no English and my Spanish was limited, so I was all eyes and ears.
Arriving in Granada an hour later, I met my host and hostess Boris and Marcella, two of the warmest people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I was treated as a guest in their home as opposed to just another paying customer. I was travelling alone, by design and the patient assistance they gave me, explaining how to get around and where to go and how to get there was much appreciated. Granada is a colonial town, aside from the Parque Central, everything looked as though it could use a coat of paint. The charm of this town was the people. Everyone was friendly, helpful, and accommodating. I blended easily with these folks and made friends everywhere I went.
It was hard to get over the prices of everything. My lodging was at La Siesta, $12/night. It was as nice as any Holiday Inn I've ever stayed in. Breakfast was the equivalent of $2 and change. I ate full meals for dinners for about $3 and change. It is possible to live here on less than $20/day. Cervezas cost 20 Cordobas, a touch more than a buck, then there is happy hour. I chuckled that if it was any cheaper they would be paying me to drink. Coming from the very dangerous city of Baltimore, Maryland, I am well accustomed to having 360 degree radar and a ready defense posture if anyone approaches too closely. Here there was no need for that. Darkened streets late at night are as safe as daytime. People pass by you and say Hola and smile. This is a very impoverished country still recovering from war and economic tragedies yet the people are incredibly tenacious. People sell fruit and vegetables on the streets from horse drawn carts and bicycles. A woman has several handmade brooms on her head walking along with more in her arms for sale. These folks do not wallow in self pity for what they do not have. It would be paralyzing to do that. They keep moving, everyone is doing something.
Everybody seems to be involved somehow in making the day happen for them not to them. It gives the town a vibrant feeling of optimism and I have a lot of hope that they will make it. I do magic tricks for the children here. In a few minutes I had a crowd around me, they have never seen magic tricks done in real life before. There is nothing touristy here, everything is very "take it as it is" which is how I prefer to see a country. I went to Volan Masaya, an active volcano where you can walk right up to the craters edge, feeling the heat and seeing the smoke billow up at you. Down on Laguna de Masaya I had lunch on the beach under a palm thatched restaurant. The view was incredible, clear blue water, fresh air, and the volcano in the distance. I ventured to the town of Leon, the capital of the Revolucion. It was much like Granada but with the flavor of the war fresh in the minds of many folks. I was taking pictures of the monument of the Revolucion when a man approached me, in rapid and non stop Spanish told me all about the Revolucion and the fighting that happened there. He had black and white photos he showed me as he talked. He pointed out where explosions happened and pictures of friends he lost.
The following day I went back to Granada, wandered through the mercado, the marketplace where under primitive shacks made from whatever material was handy, the locals sell every imaginable product.... I will go back to Nicaragua...I will see these people progress in spite of incredible odds. The Americans are building and d