Written by RoBoNC on 31 Aug, 2009
Granada is Nicaragua’s fourth largest city and perhaps it’s most treasured. The city was founded on December 8, 1524 by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, making it the oldest city in the Americas. The city still maintains that cultural and historical feel as evident…Read More
Granada is Nicaragua’s fourth largest city and perhaps it’s most treasured. The city was founded on December 8, 1524 by Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, making it the oldest city in the Americas. The city still maintains that cultural and historical feel as evident by the numerous cathedrals that seem virtually untouched since their conception. Granada has been one of the most important cities in Nicaragua, historically and politically. For decades, Granada and Leon fought as to who would claim the title of Nicaragua’s most important city. Finally during the mid 1800’s, a compromise was reached relocating the capital in Managua. Granada today is perhaps the top tourist destination in Nicaragua. It seemed as if there were more Europeans than Americans. Everywhere you look around the city center are people trying to capitalize on the tourism industry. The focal point of the city is Central Park. There are monuments, fountains, arts and craft vendors and refreshment stands all located under a tree lined canopy. Towering over Central Park is one of Granada’s most recognized cathedrals, the Cathedral of Granada. It is brightly painted orange and it offers panoramic views of Granada from its bell towers. Surrounding the cathedral are numerous restaurants, internet cafes, and old style colonial homes. Granada sits on the western edge of Lake Nicaragua or Lake Cocibolca as the locals call it. It is the 20th largest lake in the world and the only place where you will find freshwater sharks. These sharks can travel freely from the lake to the ocean using the rivers that flow out to the sea. Fishing for these creatures has been banned due to population decline. Within Lake Nicaragua is Isla de Ometepe, an island containing two active volcanoes. Isla de Ometepe is a frequent tourist destination as people like to hike to the top of the volcanoes. Although there is a ferry to the island from Granada, it is better to take the ferry from Rivas, which is about thirty minutes from Granada. The ferry from Rivas leaves everyday about every hour, while the ferry from Granada leaves only on Monday and Thursday usually at 2pm. Looking over the city as a protector and sometimes destroyer is Volcano Mombacho. It is an active volcano; however, it hasn’t erupted since 1570. Tourists flock to the top of it by the few hiking trails which offers spectacular views of Lake Nicaragua and Granada itself. Volcano Mombacho was directly responsible for creating the Islets of Granada in Lake Nicaragua. The Islets are a group of over 360 islands which were formed when Volcano Mombacho blew its cone into the lake. To this day, residents will tell you that most of the islands are privately owned and some even have houses on them. Some of the islands have tourist facilities as Granada offers boat tours through the islands. If you feel like fighting the crowds, take a walk down to the city market. It is chaotic and crowded and walking down here is like being in a night club. For tourists, it is advised not to buy anything here. Most everything that is sold in the market is cheap imitation American knock-offs. They sell everything from clothes to bootlegged DVD’s. It is on the same scale as an American flea market. But it is worth the experience to walk down here if just for a minute. There is no airport that services Granada, so everyone must fly into Managua. Although you can take a taxi or bus, I prefer to rely on my own transportation. Car rental prices are very cheap in Nicaragua. Although everything in Granada is pretty much in walking distance or a cheap taxi ride, a vehicle comes in handy if you want to take day trips to the beach or venture outside the city. Most of the streets in Granada are one-way since the roads were built before the invention of motor vehicles. A great way to see the sites of Granada is by horse carriage and they can be rented by the hour or half-hour. Hop on one at Central Park and enjoy the historical sights and sounds of America’s oldest cityClose
Since driving in Granada is not necessary and a taxi ride is not practical unless you just want to go from Point A to Point B, try a carriage ride instead. Surrounding Central Park on all sides are horse carriages and their operators vying…Read More
Since driving in Granada is not necessary and a taxi ride is not practical unless you just want to go from Point A to Point B, try a carriage ride instead. Surrounding Central Park on all sides are horse carriages and their operators vying your money. Carriage rides can last from 30 minutes to an hour. They can be shorter or longer than that depending on where you want to go and what you want to see. The price is always negotiable. We took a quick twenty minute carriage ride for about ten dollars including the tip. We started down Calle la Calzada, a cobblestone street with restaurants and old colonial homes on either side. There are plans to make the street a pedestrian only street. We took a ride down to the edge of Lake Nicaragua. Lake Nicaragua is the 20th largest lake in the world and is also home to the only freshwater shark in the world. We stopped for a minute to take a few pictures of the lake and he offered us the chance to take a tour of the Islets of Granada, but since we had our son with us, we passed on the opportunity. On the way back up Calle la Calzada, we stopped to admire some of the different statues dedicated to Nicaragua’s famous citizens. There was a statue dedicated to Francisco Cordoba, the founder of Nicaragua and whose name is used for the currency. We stopped at one statue that our driver seemed particularly proud of and that was of Emiliano Chamorro. I actually had to look him up online and discovered that he was the 55th and 59th president of Nicaragua. He was most remembered in Nicaragua for his work in signing a treaty with the US to build a canal linking the two oceans. However, Panama will forever hold that distinction. Our next stop was at one of the six major cathedrals in Granada, Iglesia de Guadalupe which was originally built as a fort in 1626. From the outside, it appears that it is an abandoned church. The white walls have since turned black and it appears as if it has gone through years of neglect. However, one step inside this church and you realize that it is an active church serving an active congregation. The interior of the church has gone through a massive renovation. The interior is beautifully painted yellow with shiny waxed floors and high arched ceilings. I was told there are no plans to renovate the outside. We traveled back to Central Park to go into town right around rush hour. Everywhere you look, horse carriages and vehicles clog the roads. Traffic can get very congested at rush hour which is another good reason to walk instead of drive. We rode by some other cathedrals such as the Antiguo Convento San Francisco which looks as if it was just built, however it is the oldest cathedral in Central America built in 1585. The exterior is painted a beautiful mixture of white and blue and there is a museum inside displaying a vast collection of Pre-Colombian artifacts. Another cathedral is the Xalteva Cathedral elegantly painted in a peach color a few blocks away. Our last stop was at Dona-Elba Cigars, a half block from the Xalteva Church. Here they have a large selection of different cigars to suit anyone’s taste. The highlight of my visit here was seeing the cigars made in front of you. The cigars were made in two person teams. One person would flatten the tobacco while the other person would roll it and cut it. Although Esteli is regarded as the cigar capital of Nicaragua, this is an excellent place to pick up cigars if a trip to Esteli is not possible. I left with over thirty cigars as well as a pack of cigars that are soaked in Flora de Cana rum. We ended out trip back in Central Park. We thanked our driver for the excellent tour and walked back to the hotel. Carriage rides might sound touristy and cliché, but it is an excellent way to see Granada. Close
If you were wondering where you can get black pottery, hand-woven hammocks, world class cigars, and any other souvenir that you can think of, then Masaya is the place to go. Masaya is Nicaragua’s capital of shopping. Masaya is located about 55 miles…Read More
If you were wondering where you can get black pottery, hand-woven hammocks, world class cigars, and any other souvenir that you can think of, then Masaya is the place to go. Masaya is Nicaragua’s capital of shopping. Masaya is located about 55 miles from Granada as well as Managua making this an excellent day trip from either city. Located in the center of the city is the Mercado Viejo or the Old Market. Nicaraguans refer to it as the Mercado Nacional de Artesania. The market occupies one city block within Masaya and it is easily identifiable by the Gothic looking structure. The building looks more like a fortress than anything. It was originally built in 1891 and after it was destroyed in the revolution it was restored in 1997. The market literally contains hundreds of vendors who try to sell their handiwork. Within the walls of this sprawling market, you will find cafés, ATMs, and the tourist office. Our trip to the Old Market wasn’t a pleasurable experience as we had expected it to be. As we approached the Old Market, I started looking for a place to park. Since there isn’t a parking lot, you must find a spot on the side of the street surrounding the market or adjacent to it. I noticed people wearing light blue polo shirts walking around the outside of the building. As I started to park my vehicle, I noticed one of those subjects running up to me in my rearview mirror. I pulled off and started circling the block. As I drove off, I still noticed him running after my vehicle and then he stopped as he realized that he couldn’t catch me. I circled the block and parked on the other side. Once again, I was met by someone wearing those light blue polo shirts. Looking closely at his shirt, they worked for the Nicaraguan Tourism Department or what I liked to refer to them as, Men in Blue. I was immediately greeted by two of them as we exited our vehicle, basically crowding me as I tried to get my child out of the backseat. I was also greeted by someone who obviously did not work for the tourism department. He wanted to wash my vehicle and watch it while we shopped. Once again, everybody wants money for doing something. I sternly but politely said no and we went inside to shop. Those two individuals with the blue shirts followed us around the entire time. They tried to point out items that they thought we would like to purchase. I started to get a little irritated, because there is nothing I hate more than shopping and having someone looking over my shoulder. At first, I thought they were supposed to follow you around. But as we went from store to store, I noticed other people browsing without having someone following them. Seeing how they were with us for about twenty minutes, I didn’t bother to tell them to leave. I just tried to ignore them. After about an hour of browsing, we stepped into the café for a quick beer and a chance to escape the Men in Blue. Once we were done, we went to those stores where we wanted to buy our souvenirs, hurrying to get out of there and get back to Granada. I noticed that my vehicle’s windshield wipers were flipped up and the vehicle had been wiped down clean. That individual came running over to me expecting a tip, of course. The Men in Blue wanted one too. I handed the car wash guy a 100 Cordoba bill or one US dollar. They didn’t appear too happy and it sounded as if they were each expecting $5. I refuse to pay for a car wash that I didn’t want nor to two individuals that wouldn’t let me shop in peace. The market is a great place to get everything Nicaraguan; however, the shopping experience would have been better without the Nicaraguan tourism board following us around. Close
Written by Jimster1956 on 21 Sep, 2007
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…Read More
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
Written by Todd W. on 16 Sep, 2007
Granada. Well, it’s been pretty lousy weather since I arrived yesterday, steady rain on and off, but during the breaks (and sometimes during the downpours) I’ve been able to get out and do some wandering. I spent the first part of the day yesterday looking…Read More
Granada. Well, it’s been pretty lousy weather since I arrived yesterday, steady rain on and off, but during the breaks (and sometimes during the downpours) I’ve been able to get out and do some wandering. I spent the first part of the day yesterday looking for a new book since I finished both of mine. Went to Mavericks here in town (very friendly) and El Tercero Ojo (‘The Third Eye’) to browse their used collections, but finally decided on a book in the book exchange pile at my hotel called Whiteman by Tony D’Souza - strangely enough, a signed copy dated 06/07 from San Juan del Sur. It’s a good book and a very fast read. Combined with The Wind Up Bird Chronicles by Murakami and Absolute Friends by Le Carre, it’s been a good reading trip (though Murakami was my favorite). Because of the crappy weather, I spent much of the day, my first day, and reading over gazpacho and beer at Tercero Ojo and on my patio in my hotel. Tercero Ojo is a good place, new-agey with an interesting selection of books (most in Spanish, including about 12 volumes of Lenin) and pretty good food. It was a good place to shelter in for a few hours. My hotel, Casa San Francisco, is very nice - I have a fairly small room, I guess the smallest they have since I’m traveling solo and the other rooms look much bigger from what I’ve seen, but it’s clean and comfortable with a beautiful, small pool in the courtyard about the size of my living room. I’d actually like to have one that size... After a while the rain let up and I went for a walk exploring the city, which is quite pretty in the central area with a healthy (or, depending on your point of view, unhealthy) contingent of expats and Americans. Between rain bursts from Hurricane Felix I did visit a few of the cathedrals and generally just ambled. I stopped in at a Mexican restaurant I read about in LP (they said it was good because the chef was actually Mexican) and was getting ready to dig into chips and salsa when the power went out. Luckily they had a generator, so I was able to eat and read. The food was actually very good, delicious burrito and pico de gallo. As I left, however, I realized that the entire town was out of power (I later learned form the guys at my hotel that this was fairly common, they’ve been losing power often for about four hours at a time). I decided to stay by the Parque Central at a wine bar with lights blazing and have a few glasses of wine, just reading and thinking about all kinds of things (how we live and the Nicas live, what it would be like to teach again, etc. I actually had a hypothetical debate on “truth,” which was kind of interesting). A few glasses of good red wine and a slice of cake later, I was brave enough to walk back towards my hotel (three blocks from the parque) through the rain, hopping from lighted spot to lighted spot like a frog to lily pads. Luckily the very nice bar immediately across the street from my hotel was open, so I snuck in for a beer just to be around other people for a while. One man was in the corner watching a telenovela, a few folks were sitting outside drinking, and I took a table in the doorway, just reading and watching the owner’s son play ball. After my beer was finished, I set off for the hotel and bed. Unfortunately I couldn’t sleep well at all. I woke up at around 4am and never went back to sleep, I watched a little TV, read, and fidgeted with my glasses (which were crooked for some reason, and reminded me that I never got my prescription filled for new glasses - yech) until it was light and the rain let up a bit. I went for a run, cris-crossing the city and dodging the bikes and motos and cars, then came back to the hotel and just sat in the pool for a little bit (which felt as good as it looks - it really is a nice pool). After a shower I went back to Kathy’s for breakfast, which was delicious. The morning slowly grew hotter until it was blazing hot and sunny. I spent the day just wandering, looking for new books (finished Souza, on to Blindness by Saramago), reading and watching people in the parque, and having a great lunch at a place called Garden Cafe (tuna salad and a smoothie). I also got some cigars for a friend, almost got him some ‘Revolucion’ cigars with a picture of Che on them, which was almost worth it for the delicious irony, but ended up getting some from Esteli instead. I also got a small pot for my sister and my daughter. There really is very little to buy in the way of photography and artwork here, though they are known for their pottery - most of the stores are just basic pulperias with essentials, they are still really catching up to the tourism thing. Started getting tired at that point and I was dripping with sweat from the heat, so I ambled back to the hotel, took a dip in the pool, and lay down for a nap. The last night it rained almost all night, and the power went out again as I sat down to dinner (all the generators buzzed on again), but dinner was absolutely delicious, seasoned flank steak in one of the nicest places in town. The guys sitting next to me must have been in government; they had ribbons around their necks and looked official... Went to the same wine bar and had cheesecake and wine, then the same bar across the street from my hotel and had a beer while I read and heard a song that made me ache for home and my family.Impressions of Granada - it is pretty around the center, and the parque central is gorgeous with prettily decorated horse carts lined up for tours along the edges. The outlying areas, like many other cities in this part of the world, are a little rougher around the edges but have nice spots too. I have to say that there’s not a lot to do in town, though there are lots of excursions available (volcano hikes, kayaking the isletas, etc.). A day and a half is plenty of time to spend in town alone, for sure, which I’m sure you could stretch with outlying trips. Have to say though that I really prefer the beautiful colors of Antigua, though the people here tend to be much more pleasant and it is certainly less touristy.Close
Written by M. Sydney on 10 Jul, 2003
"I was fully caked with mud from the trail. Our near-vertical descent into the Maderas crater was the highlight of our trip to Nicaragua. The crater itself is one of the most unique places on Earth; a dreamscape."
Isla de Ometepe is 276 square kilometers of…Read More
"I was fully caked with mud from the trail. Our near-vertical descent into the Maderas crater was the highlight of our trip to Nicaragua. The crater itself is one of the most unique places on Earth; a dreamscape."
Isla de Ometepe is 276 square kilometers of pristine forest, archeological treasure troves, wildlife, and culture worth studying for months, but enjoyed in a few days on tour.
Ometepe means "between two hills" in Nahuatl, the indigenous language of Nicaragua. The island consists of two volcanoes, Concepción (1,610 meters) and Maderas (1,394 meters), joined by a land isthmus. The surrounding waters of Lago Cocibolca, or Lake Nicaragua, are home to the world’s only species of freshwater shark.
Dry season lasts from December through May, though the best cultural festivals take place in November and July. Wildlife viewing is excellent year-round and is one of the island’s main attractions. More than 80 bird species inhabit the island. Migrating birds flock to Ometepe in May. The forests afford plentiful opportunities to observe monkeys, armadillo, opossum, anteaters, deer, bats, and the most robust insects, reptiles, and amphibians. White sand beaches offer tranquility and romance between days of hiking and climbing.
Roundtrip from Managua:
Managua – Rivas (111 km)
Buses leave Mercado Huembes every 20 minutes. Duration: 2.5 hours.
Rivas – San Jorge (5 km)
Buses and taxis take 15 minutes.
San Jorge – Moyogalpa
Ferry boats run daily. Duration: 1 hour.
Moyogalpa – San Jorge
Ferry boats run daily.
Roundtrip from Granada:
Granada - Altagracia
Ferry boats run Mon through Thurs and Sat at 11am. Duration: 4 hours.
Altagracia – Granada
Ferry boats run Tues and Sun at 10am.
Explore Ometepe by bus, car, horse, bicycle, canoe, or on foot. There are no addresses in Nicaragua; only directions. Bring your pocket dictionary on this trip! I highly recommend Ometepe Tours, with offices in San Jorge (continguo al muelle, San Jorge, Rivas. Tel. 045 34779,), and in Moyogalpa (costado este del Gasolinera Shell. Tel. 045 94116).
Buses travel in a figure eight around the two volcanoes, frequently on weekdays, and scarcely on the weekends. Schedules are posted, but not adhered to. Ask around –- the locals always seem to know when the next bus is coming and where you’d be most comfortable waiting (usually in front of someone’s tienda).
A two hour long bus ride, with stops along the way, is a magnificent slideshow of the beautiful scenery and colorful livelihoods that define Ometepe. The bus stops to pick up passengers and there are many opportunities to shoot photos through an open bus window.
Cars may be rented from Ometepe Tours Rent-a-Car, frente al Hospedaje Moyogalpa, contiguo al Muelle de San Jorge, Moyogalpa. Tel. 045 94116 or 34779. Or, Los Ranchitos Soda Restaurante, frente a la estación de Policía, Altagracia. Tel. 045-94112. Rents cars and horses.
For alternative means of transportation: Cari Hotel & Marina, Portuaria una cuadra al sur, Moyogalpa. Tel. (505) 459-4196. Rents horses, bicycles, and canoes. None cost more than $21 per day. Several other hotels rent bicycles and arrange guided tours.
If you can endure four hours on the Mozorola, a launch painted brilliant red, blue and yellow, and laden with passengers plus miscellany, then landing at Altagracia has its perks. You will not disembark at Altagracia and be left standing there, slack-jawed and spinning like the cut-out rooster on a rooftop weathervane. You will be greeted immediately and offered a free ride into town –- perhaps on a truck, with three families and their pets, leaning against bushels of plantains -– and invitations to stay at various hospedajes. Refuse once and you’ll be offered a second time, with a discount on kayak rental. Take the flyers, accept a ride. You are in the loving care of the most hospitable nicaraguensës.
Ometepe’s pre-Columbian history is evident throughout the town of Altagracia. You can learn all about the island, plus purchase art objects and replicas at El Museo Ometepe, contiguo a la Alcaldía Municipal, open daily from 8am-noon and 1-5pm. The museum also furnishes visitors with ecotourism information. For a close encounter with well-maintained stone carvings, visit the church located right in the center of town.
The annual Fiesta de San Diego, November 12-18, is a weeklong commemoration of the pilgrimage and death of Altagracia’s patron saint. The community gathers to dance the Baile de Zompopo. A representation or statue of the saint is carried around the island, a symbolic reenactment of the saint’s pilgrimage. The idol is returned to the Catholic church of Altagracia on November 18th.
Every April 28-30, the people of Altagracia throw a festival in honor of San Pedro Martir. The magnet of activity is at the southern tip of town, on the property of Lorío Castillano. A small chapel there honors the saint, who is believed to have answered the community’s pleas to expel the witch or demonic force that was scaring animals and making the forest impassible. Drinking, guitar playing, and feasting are activities you will be invited to take part in, if you show some friendliness and curiosity.
The best lodging, food, travel advice, and international clientele can be found at Hotel Castillo, two blocks south of Altagracia’s central park, Tel. 055-26045. Up to $12.50 per night. On the web at http://www.udsi.com.ni/hotel.htm. Or try Hotel Central, also two blocks south of the central park, Tel. 055-26072. Up to $6 per night, per person.
I have spoken to more than one victim of "Santo Domingo Fever," the urge to stay and relax on white sand beaches . . . forever. Swaying hammocks and Coke in glass bottles charm the hiking boots off ya. Finca Santo Domingo and Villa Paraíso (Tel. 045-34675) both accept credit cards and cost about $4 per night. Santo Domingo is enroute from Altagracia to Balgüe. Just ask the bus driver to let you off there or follow the signs in your rental car.
Balgüe and Volcán Maderas
After a bumpy bus ride from Altagracia, plan to spend a couple nights at Finca Magdalena, an organic coffee co-op and rustic lodge, where you will be served three hot meals a day with the warmest welcome. Watch coffee being processed the old fashioned way -– by hand. Better yet, volunteer to help the co-op. Along the footpaths that leave the barn, discover petroglyphs (mystic rock carvings). Be discovered by monkeys and swooping white herons.
This is a great base for your climb up Volcán Maderas, a challenging, four-hour trek through awe-inspiring rainforest. Both white-faced capuchin monkeys and mantled howler monkeys are numerous and curious. Once you spot their figures in the canopy, keep your eyes peeled. Parakeets, squirrels, butterflies, large beetles, caterpillars, bats, and urracas -– large blue swallowtails -- are found all over the island. But the crater itself is one of the most unique places on Earth; a dreamscape. You step from volcanic rock into a soft marsh, blanketed with the brightest green grass. Warm, clear waters begin just where the grass ends. Visibility is about 100 meters. The lagoon sparkles through kaleidoscopic clouds.
If ever there were a sleepy port town, Moyogalpa is it. "Just passing through," you’ll say to invitations here. Notwithstanding, several hotels will accommodate you, and the food is typical of the whole island –- generous portions served when the commercials come on TV. You’ll be comfortable for a night at El Pirata Hotel Restaurante, del Banco Nacional, una cuadra al sur. Tel. 045-94262. The Cari Hotel & Marina seems to have a lot going on, and you can reserve in Managua, Tel. 222-6331, or in Moyogalpa, Tel. 045-94263. Hotel Aly rents bicycles, and Hotel La Bahia is near more restaurants, but Hotel Ometepetl is on the internet, at .
Join the Fiesta de Santa Ana, July 23-26, in Moyogalpa. Witness the Dance of the Inditas, costumed processions, and perchance a bull fight or at least a duck- or chicken-race. Staple foods of the fiesta are chicken, rice, beans, fish, chicken, rice, more beans, and did I mention chicken? Vegetables, breads, cheeses, and coffee are also on the menu.
Other highlights of Isla de Ometepe include the waterfall at San Ramon; the scale model of Ometepe in Moyogalpa; legends and lagoons of Charco Verde; petroglyphs at Finca Magdalena, Finca el Porvenir, and La Palma; or pescado corriente, the island’s signature dish of whole, fried talapia.
For more info:
Nicaragua – A country study. Library of Congress Federal Research Division, Area Handbook Series.
Copyright 2000 M. Sydney
Written by dannynosleeves on 26 Dec, 2004
After hanging out in Granada for a few days, our six-dollar-a-night hostel was starting to wear our wallets thin. We found a flyer for a place that advertised hammocks for a buck-fifty a night. That we could afford. The place was Hacienda Merida on the…Read More
After hanging out in Granada for a few days, our six-dollar-a-night hostel was starting to wear our wallets thin. We found a flyer for a place that advertised hammocks for a buck-fifty a night. That we could afford. The place was Hacienda Merida on the island of Omentepe, on Lake Nicaragua. We packed our bags and made our way to the ferry station. Since we knew barely enough Spanish to even introduce ourselves, buying tickets for the bus proved to be quite a challenge, as were most things for us in Central America. The lady at the ticket counter seemed to be as confused by us as we were by her. She kept repeating herself, even though we must have appeared as blank as an empty sheet of white paper. Finally, she started repeating "Up or down??" over and over. Up or down? What was she talking about? To get the line moving again, I finally said, "Down?" Later, I wished I had just kept quiet. "Down" meant second-class.
We eventually got to the island and took a few cabs and one very bumpy bus ride to the hostel. The town of Merida is little more than the hostel itself, plus a few houses and some stores operating out of some of the houses. As small as it was, there was much to see and do, but by the time we got there, it was very late, so we hopped into our buck-fifty hammocks and passed out. Never one to sleep-walk or talk in my sleep, that night I did a little bit of both. Deep in the night, I heard some rustling in my bag I’d dropped beside my hammock. I awoke—well, I didn’t actually wake up, but I thought I did. I saw what I thought was a child digging through my bag, and when I sat up, the child appeared to be running away with my things. I yelled, "Hey, you!" twice—loud enough to wake the whole of Merida, but as it turned out, the "kid" was actually a dog, and "my things" were only one sandal. Relieved to find no one else was awake and witnessing my embarrassment, I plopped back down and feel gratefully to sleep.
The next morning, we hiked to the waterfalls, rode our bikes around the island, and took our first dive in Lake Nicaragua. The hostel turned out to be an old coffee plantation with a loading dock that extended far out into the lake. Religiously, every night at sunset, I would go and jump off the dock a few times, showing off my flips and tricks. Often I had an audience, and once the paparazzi appeared and took a few pictures. Great stuff for my ego, and a great way to top off days filled with adventure, exploring, and camaraderie with familiar faces and the smiling ones of strangers, who were fast becoming new friends in a strange and far away place.