Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A week in Northern Nicaragua

There was an amazingly neat and colourful veggie market
where we waited for the bus to Matagalpa

We hiked to the top of the jungle for this view of Matagalpa (white speckle, centre-left)

I remember vividly the first morning I wore my new glasses as a kid: the day the world transformed. Aged 10, I was sitting on the floor of our living room in South Africa, some Sunday morning, dunking my beskuit into a cup of coffee and obsessively sliding my glasses up and down my nose, comparing my old world with the new, and marveling to my family that the green blur hanging over the swimming pool had suddenly transformed into a jasmine plant with individual leaves!

I feel like that now, staring at the bowl of jungle towering up to the sky from across the lake at the restaurant porch at the Selva Negra Mountain Lodge. I can see the wind traveling across the towering trees and the individual leaves shimmering in response. The 180 degrees of green surrounding us isn’t just green – it’s green, olive, brown, grey and black with a smattering of rusty reds and splotches of lime green. The resident howler monkeys aren’t shy to publicize their right to this territory and can be heard barking through the day. Vinko and I are convinced that they speak a different “language” compared to the Howlers we’ve come across in Belize and Guatemala – the rhythm and pitch are completely different and we spend a few hours speculating at the chaos that might perhaps ensue if these same-same but different monkeys had a chance to meet.

If I weren't already married, this little church at Selva Negra Mountain Lodge would be it!

...although I'm not sure if the pastor would approve of this...

...or this.

Vinko had to deal with a sinus inflammation up in the mountains.
Not a happy camper.

Compared to the rest of the Pacific Coast in Central America - which is scorching hot, bone dry and pretty ugly-looking right now - the Selva Negra (Black Jungle) of Northern Nicaragua is surprisingly lush, delightfully cool and the perfect place to pass a few days hiking around the lodge’s property, which comprises of a working coffee-dairy-poultry farm focused on sustainable practices adjoined by the lodge’s private reserve and hotel/ conference facilities. After the 10 hour Tica bus journey to get to Matagalpa from San Salvador (no comment, except for “why are bus stations always in the dodgy, dirty, scary part of town?!?”), we indulge in some excellent German food and silent surroundings. Nothing too eventful, just some peace and quiet before heading further south. 

Work of art.

The colonial city of Granada on the other hand, was a little less than joyful. We speculate that the unimaginable must be happening and that we are finally getting tired of traveling, because nothing in Granada excites us. Yes, there are some nicely renovated colonial buildings and it was fun for the first hour to wander through the streets. Until it became apparent that the hostels are out to impoverish you, the taxi drivers are out to hit you, the men are out to harass you, the women and children are out to beg as much as they can from you, the horses are out to make piles of shit for you to step in and that the Semana Santa (Easter/ Holy Week) festivities are out to deafen you with music blasted from all corners. At least the beer was cheap but even that wasn’t enough to make us warm up to the city. 

Granada's cathedral and Lago Nicaragua in the background

A hidden gem we discovered on a walk

I will concede that Granada has a beautiful cathedral, if nothing else

All of this combined gave us the feeling that we were trapped in Granada for 3 days waiting for a ferry to Ometepe Island in Lake Nicaragua. Some greater force must have taken pity on us, because we managed to just buy the last 2 tickets for the ferry and weasel our way out of there, along with the 300+ other fortunate fugitives crammed onto the rambling old ferry.

I really wanted to like Granada, I did. But every time I slipped my beer goggles up and down my nose to look for a transformation, it was the same blur. 

The monsters ate my luggage!!!
I suspect these little gremlins were the cause of our troubled stay in Granada.

Some fun wall graffiti at Oasis Hostel in Granada 


Post a Comment