Granada is a small island in the Caribean that Ronal Reagan invaded in the 1980s.
Depending on how you choose to remember this trip, it is either the story of how a young Peace Corps Volunteer from León traveled with his “lions’ pride” of female site-mates to Granada in order to mourn the loss of Joan Rivers in style, or the story of a four person Jewish family kvetching their way through Nicaragua. Either way, fun was had by all. #I’mBringingSassyBack #TheBitchIsBack
This weekend I made my first trip to Granada, Nicaragua (the small Carribean island that Ronald Reagan did in fact order the invasion of is spelled Grenada). As a proud Leones it is not easy for me to admit, but I liked Granada. León and Granada have a long history of rivalry, which have sparked civil war and ultimately led to Managua becoming the national capital.
In the past the Peace Corps would have a Gala every year in Managua. All Volunteers are invited. People tell me that it was like Peace Corps prom. The proceeds from ticket sales, drinks, and raffles would go towards the National Entrepreneurship Congress and Competition that we hold along with the Ministry of Education.
Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to me (I’m still a little too noob to be in on that loop), this year’s Gala got cancelled. But luckily, some of the Small Business Development Volunteers organized a “fake gala” get together for all of us in Granada.
I set out with my lion pride on Saturday morning from León. Approximately three and a half hours plus the world’s absolute-most-worst-and-vile-ham-and-cheese-ever-panini later, we got to Granada and made the best of our time before fake gala festivities in the evening. Granada is arguably the first city established in the Americas. Everyone’s favorite conquistador, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, founded Granada on the western shore of Lake Nicaragua in 1524. Lake Nicaragua is actually connected to the Carribean and Atlantic Ocean by the Rio San Juan, so they cit became an important commercial and political post. At times throughout its history it has been the capital of Spanish Central America as well as Nicaragua proper.
Despite being attacked and burned numerous times by British, French, Dutch, and American pirates, the historic center of Granada is well preserved and has some handsome architecture.
The other attraction of Granada that we took advantage of is Las Isletas. They are an archipelago of (supposedly) 365 islands in Lake Nicaragua that were formed when Mombacho, towering above the city and lake, blow its top a few hundred thousand years ago.
I loved Las Isletas. They truly have a tropical paradise feel.
The isletas are pretty diverse too. There are the “poor” islands where the people have no running water and they subsist on fishing. Then there are the “rich” islands where the rich and famous of Nicaragua have luxury vacation homes. And then you have your Monkey Island, vacation rental islands, bar/restaurant islands with pools, the old Spanish fort, and hundreds of other unoccupied islands. We spent a few hours out on the water. We could have spent all day and then some.
I’ll definitely be heading back to Granada before my stay in Nicaragua is up. It is a nice city, and I think there is a lot more to see or do.
Two fun facts about Lake Nicaragua:
- It is populated by a freshwater shark known as the Bull Shark that takes a liking to human flesh
- It is the largest lake in Central America
And just to close out the lion pride/Jewish family theme, some excerpts from our TripAdvisor reviews or our hostel and the restaurant we dined at Saturday night after Las Isletas:
“I dined at the Garden Cafe last night with some friends of mine. The setting is pleasant. It truly does feel like a garden cafe. But the charm stops there. The food is mediocre. Most of the menu items are not creative and use copious amounts of cheese as a substitute for true flavor, creativity, and substance. The menu reminded me of an Applebees more than a ‘garden cafe’.”
“I honestly would have been better off just staying up all night and not bothering paying for a hostel.”