The Ring of Fire.........ooooooh!!!
Trip Start Feb 01, 2010
35Trip End Mar 17, 2010
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Okay, so you were all thinking this entry was going to be all about Granada. I will get to that eventually,however I must start at the beginning.Our driver picked us up around 8:00 and we left San Juan del Sur.We went first to Las Isletas,which is in the lake close to Granada. It is a collection of small islands created by a massive volcanic explosion thousands of years ago.If you look at Granada on a map you will see the volcano Mombacho close to the city
.The eruption of Mombacho was so large it spewed tons of boulders into Lake Nicaragua, forming about 365 small islands. If you do travel to Granada this is one tour I recommend you do. We got on a boat with a funny guy named Ceasar,and he took us through all the small islands.The tour itself was about an hour and a half,and cost about $5.00 for both of us.Almost all of the small islands are owned privately,some of the wealthiest people in Nicaragua have built spectacular homes on these tiny little islands
.They all have running water and electricity, and some of them are just too difficult to describe,they are so beautiful.One of the really small islands was called monkey island,as it was inhabited by a dozen or so assorted monkey's. They were all very cute ,and a popular tourist attraction,if you like monkey's!
After that tour we drove back to Parque Central in Granada for coffee, and to regroup. We enjoyed a nice latte overlooking the park. I must say Granada is as beautiful a city as I had expected. You never really know what to expect after you have researched something on the internet, however this city did NOT disappoint! The style of the city is unique, somewhat Renaissance/Baroque architecture is how it has been described It is a very old city, founded by Francisco Hernando de Cordoba from Spain in 1524
.Much of the city was destroyed by a U.S. filibuster named William Walker in 1856. However some of the original buildings are still standing in the center of town. Do google him, as it is a facinating story ,and too long for me to post here.
After coffee we did an entire tour of the city in a horse drawn carriage. This is worth the $20.00 U.S. for the guided tour, the driver stopped at all the points of interest like the oldest house in Granada, (see photo) has now been turned into an artist gallery.
The original Fort, with cannon and walls still standing is amazing. You can climb to the top of the fort and get a panoramic view of the city. Volcan Mambacho is quite menacing,and looms over the city.It has not erupted recently, so no worries..
Next stop was Masaya Volcano.I had originally told our driver that I did not wish to visit the volcano, and I wanted to go shopping at the Masaya market instead. Boy am I glad he insisted we go see the volcano. I have seen a few amazing things in my life, but after today this volcano is going to the top of my list!! No kidding, have you ever stuck your nose directly into the mouth of a large active volcano? I think not! Well some reader's may have. but it was a first for both Ross and myself.It was so cool.
When we arrived at the volcano we were give a list of instructions to follow while viewing the volcano. The first one was to park the car,with the back of the car to the volcano, for a speedy exit............if needed, and then, and I quote" In case of rock expulsions, you can protect yourself UNDER your car". Luckily today it did not erupt, but as you can see from the pictures, it was steaming ,and "burping" an acrid sulphur gas.It is known for randomly spewing out rocks and ash, but has not had a major eruption since 2003.For a very short period of time ,even I was speechless!!
After leaving Masaya volcano we stopped at the Masaya Market. This is inside the old stone fortress, and when I say it is a huge market.I mean it is humungous!! I actually got lost inside, and Ross had to form a search party, or I would still be there. The market has just about anything you could possibly be looking for.If it's shopping you like, then Masaya is the place to be.Next time I visit Nicaragua I will plan on spending one entire day there because you need that much time to see everything.
Next stop was another mind altering natural wonder, the Laguna de Apoyo in Catarina. This is a spectacular lagoon formed by a collapsed volcano.It is 4 miles across and 656 feet deep.
There are a few small homes around the lake, but it looks almost pristine. You can take a tour by horseback through a narrow canyon, but we were running out of time and couldn't.Definately will come back to this spot, simply beautiful
Last stop was the one I was looking forward to for a while. Tiny little town of San Juan de Oriente,just down the road from Catarina. This spot is where most of the nicest pottery is made.Unfortunately we were really running short on time, so I had to "power shop" and didn't get the chance to browse at my leisure.I will most certainly come to the town next trip.
After a busy day of sightseeing we headed for home. I never really realized til now all the wonderful natural resourses Nicaragua has to offer. On the drive to and from Granada we saw huge lush green fields of rice, more mango tree's than people,papaya's the size of small children,watermelon stands every 100 yards, pinapples, bananas,sugar cane,the list goes on...........
As my good friend Ralph pointed out, Nicaragua is NOT a third world country, it is a developing country. More and more young Nicaraguan's are returning to their homeland,and as country overall ,they are making great progress.
So that is all I am posting here today because I still have much to say, but my days are numbered here, and I must get outside and play. I will update this entry later on tonight. I took over 300 photo's yesterday,so do check back later.............Buenas tardes :-)
My last entry for the trip:
Our final stop on the way back home was at La Virgen, for a good look at Ometepe islands two volcanos. The largest on the island is the ominous looking Concepcion,which is currently an active volcano,and has been grumbling a wee bit over the last couple years, but no major eruptions yet.
The smaller volcao is Maderas, and is currently not active. Both are quite a sight to see. so come to Nicaragua for some of the most amazing scenery, and friendly people.!!
I also forgot to mention that we were able to see so many sights in just one day because we hired a local driver.The service we used is called Iskra Travel .They will do any size private trips.We chose to go to several locations and we paid a flat rate of $ 150.00 U.S. for the entire day. Our driver paid all the entrance fees for the tours we went on.You are requested to buy your driver lunch,and it is a very good trip as you can see by this entry, There are cheaper alternatives,but I do not recommend them. If you really want a hassle free enjoyable day pay for the private air conditioned car, with a driver who speaks both Spanish and English and you will have the trip of a lifetime.You can check them out at : iskratravel.com
They also offer an airport shuttle service from San Juan del Sur to Managua ,which we will again be using on Sunday.