Although there is a ferry that crosses the entirety of Lake Nicaragua, it leaves Isla Omatepe at 1am and, in the interest of sleeping and being rested while on vacation, we opted to take the 9am ferry back to San Jorge and bus it the ninety minutes or so to the colonial tourist and historical mecca on the western shores of the lake: Granada. One of the oldest Spanish settlements in Nicaragua, founded in 1524, Granada has seen wars, pirates, fires, and fierce political battles - including one to be the capital of the country - in its long history.
|Granada's colorful Plaza de la Independencia|
|Wandering the streets of Granada.|
|The potter and his craft|
Catarina, on the opposite side of the Panamerican Highway, and a short walk uphill from San Juan de Oriente's potter's row, is home to several tiny restaurants and juice stands leading toward El Mirador, or "The Lookout." From this impressive vista one looks due east over the crater lake Laguna de Apoyo, beyond which sits Granada and then Lake Nicaragua. To the south, as if adding some sprinkles to the top of the scenic cake, sits the majestic Mombacho Volcano.
Back in Granada later that evening - our last - we spent some time in the Parque Central taking in the architecture of the cathedral and palatial buildings while eating ice cream and enjoying some good old fashioned people-watching. Dinner that night, at a discretely located and dimly-lit restaurant we toasted to a trip with good company filled with near non-stop laughter and great conversation over ginger chicken, gumbo, and sangria.
Nicaragua was an enchanting place to spend a week and I hope to return one day soon. There is so much more to explore; the surf spots of the Pacific, volcano-boarding in the north around León, Caribbean island communities, and historical jewels of earthquake-torn Managua beg for my return! Politics has stoked the fire recently again though, bringing back the not-so-distant fears of a tumultuous past. Many feel the current president, Ortega, has bought the current congress and will have no problem in changing the laws allowing him to run again for a record third term, when many more people feel it is time for a change. Venezuela's polarizing president, Hugo Chavez, has been getting friendly as well, in his apparent quest to form a socialist alliance with as many Latin American countries as possible. The past has been difficult and I hope the future doesn't continue along that way. We didn't quit on the way to the top of Maderas; I trust the Nicaraguan people won't quit either, as tired as they may be.
|Los cinco amigos at El Mirador backed by Laguna de Apoyo.|