Thursday, January 8, 2009

Adv #7 Continued: Nicaragua on the way to Costa Rica

Finally, a “Welcome To” sign! I can’t believe this was the first one we’d seen like this, entering our 5th country since the U.S. Our sites were set on Granada, Nicaragua having heard and read good things about it from various sources.

Leaving Honduras at El Espino was a 5 minute process (nice improvement over entering the country) and I think we spent another hour and a half entering Nicaragua. The help of our two border expeditors was again worth a few bucks, and the immediate impressions of Nicaragua were much better than El Salvador and Honduras. The roads were better maintained, there’s less garbage along the road, and people just seemed a bit friendlier.

We hustled quite a bit to make it to Granada before dark, but as usual, its taking longer than we expect to get anywhere quickly around here. Eventually arriving on Calle La Calzada (the main tourist hot spot) in the dark, first impressions of this main tourist area were really good. While I was waiting in the street and Peter was checking out a few hotels, I was approached by “Jimmy,” an American who owns a hotel there. He offered a room at his place for a good rate, so we followed him on his Harley back to his hotel and set ourselves up for a two-night stay. A well-deserved shower was next and dinner at Mona Lisa on the sidewalk of La Calzada was actually outstanding as we watched all the tourists walking by.
First thing the next morning, (January 5th) I set out to see this city of Granada. Hmm. Sorry to say it, but it didn’t quite dazzle either of us as much as the first impressions that La Calzada made when we drove in the night before. Those 400 meters of sidewalk dining and upscale tourism on La Calzada are nice, and it’s clean and safe. There’s a couple of cathedrals at either end that give an old world feel to compliment the rest of the area. Unfortunately though, the rest of Granada that I saw seemed like every other city we’d seen thus far and definitely falling under the “dirty” category. On the east end of the town is Lake Nicaragua, and even that was pretty sad looking.Having been international for so long at this point, I was kind of excited to see so many other gringos running around Granada. But it’s almost too much, in that every decent restaurant or coffee shop almost had exclusively gringo customers, and it looked like I was back home at a Starbucks or something. Okay....I guess that's not so bad. I do miss my friends and people back home : )
The locals like Jimmy and a few others I met all concur that Nicaragua is continuing down a very rocky political path. I know a lot of folks have hoped it would be the next Costa Rica, making investments of their time and money in places like Granada, but it just seems that the corruption and greed continue to slide in the wrong direction to make this country stabilize and prosper. Much like I wrote about Honduras and El Salvador, I hate to make such quick judgments of these countries based on a couple of days spent there. Really though, nothing we saw was motivating us to spend more time in Nicaragua. Not like Mexico, where it seemed every person we came across was doing their best to make sure we are enjoying ourselves.

We spent two nights at Jimmy’s hotel, enjoyed his “world famous” Alabama ribs the 2nd night, and then charged for the Costa Rica border first thing on January 6th.

1 comment:

  1. Greetings Eric!
    Chuck the radon guy from Ohio here. We shared good conversation and hot-wings at Hooters in Vegas last spring - you said it was your first "California Dreaming" tour - remember? I just wanted to post a note and tell you that I am really enjoying your blog and also wanted to wish you continued good fortune on the rest of your central american adventure. Chao for now!