After leaving Ometepe Island, my parents and I continued on to the colonial city of Granada.
This was my second trip to Granada, and being a resident of León and having just come from Ometepe, I formulated some comparisons between the three popular stops on the “Gringo trail.”
Ometepe just feels right at home with foreign visitors, without having done anything out of the ordinary to embrace them. Clueless barefoot dreaded-out Europeans walk down the side of the road right next to local Nicaraguans, who don’t seem to mind at all.
León has taken the extreme approach. It pretty much detests many of the tourists that visit the city (who ironically provide a very important source of income for the city and her residents). León, just like Ometepe, attracts the backpacker crowd, and they are prone to meander down the street, shirtless, shoeless, with a questionable bathing history. These tourists (American, Canadian, Australian, European) just don’t realize that they are really offending the sensibilities of the locals.
Granada is Colonial Disney World. The city wholeheartedly embraces foreigners and has created a well-preserved colonial city that feels nothing like the rest of Nicaragua at all. Prices are outrages and my mom commented that she didn’t she any Nicaraguans or hear any Spanish while she was in the city center. Nevertheless, it makes for a nice place to visit, especially with your “kids.”
I put kids in quotation marks because traveling with my parents in Nicaragua was a bit like traveling with children. Children with credit cards, that is. They don’t really speak the language, they have no idea what is going on, they get hungry, they need to use the bathroom a lot, and they ask a lot of questions. My two kids were particularly well behaved though, which I am very thankful for. However, I did find myself at one point asking them to try to use the bathroom, even if they didn’t have to go, because we had a long trip ahead of us.
Even though we were only in Granada for one full day we did a lot. We hiked Mombacho Volcano, we visited Las Isletas, and we went to a museum which houses pre-Columbian zoomorph statues, so called because they depict humans with animal characteristics.
The zoomorphs were all collected from a local island, Zapatera, but apparently there is still more to be seen out there, so hopefully I will get a chance to head to the island the next time I am in the Granada area (which is actually at the end of this month, for a Peace Corps training that I have to attend).
From Granada my kids and I set out for our last stop on our trip, León.