I'll admit it: despite a fairly decent (actually amazingly easy) arrival, we managed to be a little stir crazy by the end of last week. Between *real* internet taking a while to be installed (in hindsight, not that long, but it felt that way at the time), a slight bug issue (it's fixed future visitors, no worries!), and a feeling of being stuck in our gorgeous, but slightly secluded home, it all took a toll. By the weekend, I wanted out and far away out.
A new friend heard our prayers as she was taking us around the city on Thursday and offered us a trip to see Masaya (the volcano) from afar, the Masayan artisan market, and the city of Granada on Saturday. Not only would we get out of the city, but would get a chance to sample more comida tipica, and an idea of what else needed exploration within an hour's reach.
While we did not actually drive within reach of the volcano (it was pouring and we are saving for a bit later), we now know exactly how easy it is to get there. Once we get to the highway, it's basically a straight shot, save for a right turn at the entrance of the park. Once we passed the volcano, we headed to the handicrafts market in Masaya.
Now some reports online will say it's too expensive, others will say it's too touristy. Are you kidding me? I was out of my house, in the middle of a new country and exploring. Overpriced and touristy or not (I wonder if the naysayers have shopped in the U.S. recently), we had a great time. From the hammocks (for everyone, including doll-sized hammocks), to the batidos (fruit smoothie), we enjoyed soaking in the culture, the amazing colors and the artisanry on display. The wood work alone had us in awe. Then the pottery, paintings, and jewelry...given we have three years here and many other markets to explore, we only invested in a few items, to include a gorgeous wooden coaster set and a shell jewelry box designed as a puzzle, however we left happy.
Upon departing the market, we headed to the town of Granada. Located a mere 45 minutes (approximately 45 kilometers) from Managua, Granada is an easy drive along the Carretera a Masaya. We drove into the town expecting Managua and were surprised by the bright colors and colonial architecture. The town also acts as part of the shoreline for Lake Nicaragua. A drive past the lakefront was mandatory and included monkey, cow, and donkey sightings. Yes, the LG was thrilled, as were the girls. Of course, once he saw the naked children frollicking in the lake, he wanted to follow suit. Given how close the animals were grazing and what I've read, swimming might not be on the agenda any time soon. We headed that off with a promise of comida tipica for lunch and continued investigating the shoreline and surrounding area.
Lunch was downtown in a cozy cafe with an indoor garden. We snagged a table outside and were able to enjoy lunch despite the fact that a raging storm was only inches away from our table. Our grilled steak, chicken, cheese, frijoles molido, and tajadas (fried plantains) were amazing, we managed to find room for a post lunch treat of gelatos and crepes (both appear to be quite popular here, to the kids' delight).
We wandered about the city a bit more, but did not opt for any particular tours. Given that we have three years, it seems like we should stretch out our trips a bit more. We don't want to rush the exploration and we now have the perfect place to spend a random free Saturday or maybe a U.S. holiday. Especially given that we did not have a chance to visit the Choco Museo where one can even make his or her own chocolate...um, yum?!
Did I mention how excited we are to have three years to explore here? Our lifestyle can sometimes be overwhelming, but the rest of the time it's utterly amazing. More amazingness soon, I promise....