Wednesday, June 3, 2009
A capital move.
“So what’s in Granada,” Adrian asked me as we were packing up our stuff this morning.
“Um, I don’t know. More of the same it sounds like.”
That wasn’t just a flippant reply. It was kinda the truth. Way before the revolution, Leon and Granada had gone to war for the right to be the capital of Nicaragua. So they both claimed to have the prettiest churches, old colonial buildings and lots of stuff to see. Finally someone in power got sick of changing the government stationary every year and named Managua, a city smack dab in the middle of the two, as capital. And it had stuck. Now Leon and Granada just fought for tourism dollars. Today we were going to see all three.
We caught a minibus from the bus station (really just a field/parking lot near the stadium). And for about $2.50 each we were headed to Managua. It would have been a pleasant ride except that Nicaraguans seem to have a problem with open windows. And as we were sitting at the back of the van far away from the windows, the sweat just poured off of us. Eventually, as we hit the Managua city limits, the van started to clear out giving us access to the windows and an opportunity to cool off. It also gave us a chance to check out the city we were just passing through. From the highway it appeared that every other building was brand new and a hotel/casino. Everywhere there were more of those big American brand names in neon. It made me glad we had decided to skip it. Especially when we were greeted at the bus station by their taxi drivers.
Before we’d gotten off the bus, drivers were pounding on the windows to get my attention. Not Adrian’s window of course. Even with the darkest tan I’ve ever had I still screamed gringa from miles away. Oblivious to my plight, Adrian abandoned me on bus while I wrestled with the luggage and the three taxi drivers who were trying to steer me into their cabs. As we pulled into the bus station I saw a Granada bus waiting there and knew we didn’t have to change stations. I tried to ignore them, repeatedly saying “no gracias, no gracias, no gracias”. Although I did remember to say gracias when one of them helped me free the backpack I had been wrestling with.
Once I finally got off the bus and into the crowd of over eager taxi drivers, I finally spotted Adrian smoking and chatting to another driver. He was telling the driver that we needed to go to Granada which the taxi driver immediately took as an invite to drive us there for an exorbenent amount. So to put an end to that I told Adrian to shut up and get on the bus two feet away. I know, excessive but I was mad at him for abandoning me to smoke leaving me to the wolves. One driver than decided to tell me that I shouldn’t be so angry which made me angrier, especially since two other drivers were physically pushing me on to the bus. (I wish I were making this up). On the bus, I look behind me and Adrian has disappeared again. The bus began to pull away. I tell them to stop because I’m waiting for my husband. When they asked me where he wass, I had no clue until one of the drivers told me that he was in the bano. I swear, I’m going to kill him.
When Adrian does get on, I decided to do the mature thing and not speak to him for the rest of the ride, after I inform him that from now on he can do all the Spanish talking and I’ll disappear whenever I feel like it. He got the hint and after an hour of blessed silence we were in Granada. The buses were both very comfortable minibuses and we traveled about 200 km for $4 each. I like Nicaragua, well the bus prices, but not the taxi drivers of Managua. But I figure they must be Honduran.
This time we headed straight to the nicest hostel with one of the larger price tags. After 5 days of sharing a grotty bathroom in Leon, Adrian decided it was time to upgrade to a private bathroom but at almost double the price. But we didn’t splurge for the air conditioning. However, since the pool was being re-grouted while we were there it was going to be a hot stay.
It was still relatively early in the day so we went out to compare Leon and Granada. Starting at the central park with its cathedral, bishop's palace, city hall and other beautiful buildings. Actually, Granada wins hands down for prettiest town in Nicaragua. But that means it attracts a lot of tourists and a lot of touts. Like mosquitos to Liz. We bypassed all the waiters trying to lure us into the tourist restaurants (Mexican, Thai, Irish Pub, etc) and settled for a hot dog in the park. We needed our cordobas to pay for the room. While we were sitting there, a tour guide approached us and tried to sell us one of his many tours on the lake and around town. I will say he was very nice about it so we took his name and number and if we did decide to go on a boat tour it would be with him.
After it was time to check out some of the museums. The Casa de Leones was an art centre with no art. Then the old convent which was now a pre-columbian art museum. And of course lots of old buildings and beautiful churches. And some not so old. If it had been up to me, I think I would have chosen Granada as the capital. But don’t tell the Managuans they’ve already hassled me enough.