Thursday, June 4, 2009

Accidental tourist.

There’s nothing worse than turning on your computer and instead of the familiar startup noise and smiley face (yup I’m talking about a mac here) you get a giant question mark and silence. My baby. My lifeline to the outside world. Come back to me. Considering that the extended warranty had just expired, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I spent the morning using my assortment of repair and start up disks to get its heart going again. Snoresfest when it comes to blogging action but full on panic at my end. Although it caught the attention of an English guy working at the hostel.
“Oh that doesn’t look good”
I then found out that before he came to Nicaragua to learn about running a hostel, he had been some IT honcho.
“Oh great. Any tips?”
“No clue. I don’t know anything about Macs”
Nor did it appear did any places in Nicaragua. The nearest Apple centre was located in Costa Rica. I resorted to reinstalling my OS and that seemed to work. But just in case I had better back up more often.

Meanwhile, Adrian had done some investigating and discovered that there was now an air conditioned room with a shared bath available in the hostel. And it cost $12 less. Since the hostel was spotless and our stomachs no longer required a private bathroom, it was a no-brainer. I considered it an upgrade in the heat and humidity of Granada. So we quickly moved our stuff into our tiny new room. It was still cool at noon even though the AC hadn’t been on for 4 hours and with that little piece of heaven waiting for us, we decided to brave the sun and head out to explore something else in Granada.

The hostel had great listings of stuff to see and how to get there as well as a couple of tour options. We decided on the free one – a short-ish walk to the old fort that supposedly had a museum and great view of the city according to our guide book. We followed the shade the 10 blocks to the fort and knocked on the door for the caretaker to let us in. It was now a pretty garden – the museum long since moved to another unknown location. Although there were some random fort like object around – a cannon or two and barrels of what Adrian assumed was beer but I’m pretty sure was supposed to be gun power. When we were done walking around the guard motioned to a door to one of the turrets. Inside there was a rickety ladder up. Adrian immediately clambered up. I was a little more reserved – okay I was chicken – and merely popped my head through the trapdoor without going all the way up.

“Come up and see the city,” Adrian called to me.
“I have a better idea. How about I pass you the camera and you can take pictures of it for me.”
So you’re seeing these views the same way I did.

Adrian spied a blue church from up above so on our way back to the hostel we took a different route so he could look at it. The church was blue and a church and that was about it. So we continued walking. Just then I noticed an unassuming cigar factory (photo above). I pointed it out to Adrian and before I could ask him if he’d like to check it out he was across the street and peering through the front door.

A man let is inside. The front room was an old fashioned cigar smoking and sales room full of old cases containing cigar boxes. But the man took us into the interior courtyard where a handful of men and women were rolling cigars. Then the man sat down and went back to work. It was kinda weird. We were just standing there watching them roll cigars, I wasn’t sure if we should stay or go when a woman came out to give us a tour. In English she started to explain the history of the cigar factory. It was started by her husband’s grandfather about 100 years ago. But it was her father-in-law and his wife who had made Doña Elba a name. They make only a handful of cigars. And she was quick to point out that they sell in the Canada for $40 each – most of which is tax. But which could be bought here for a tenth of the price.

At the moment, the women were rolling only two types of cigar – a light coloured one and a dark coloured one. The men were pressing them and then the best roller was finishing them. Adrian was given one right from the finished pile and then taught how to smoke it by the woman. We then sat there for an hour while he finished it, torturing me with bad Scarface and dictator impressions. No really, they were atrocious. I assumed myself by reading the back issues of Cigar Afficianado (really a whole magazine about cigars). And I tried to look up the cigar factory in the guide books or tourist brochures but I couldn’t find it. Perhaps that was why it was still free.

After escaping the tourist trail all day we threw ourselves into it for dinner. We walked down to the main drag of Granada to partake in some Mexican food. It was really good. The plethora of kids trying to sell us cashews, sweets, palm frond sculptures, or just asking for money was something we could have done without. Funny how the cigar factory tour, the most touristy thing we did that day, was also the least touristy.

No comments: