Nicaragua: en el medio de Centroamérica

Bienvenidos a Nicaragua!
Granada: la ciudad más antigua de Latinoamérica
29 y 30 de Junio, 2011
Playa Hermosa a Peñas Blancas (frontera): 1.5 hs
Peñas Blancas a Granada: 2 hs

Salimos temprano de Playa Hermosa ya que teníamos que cruzar la frontera y supuestamente las de centroamérica (empezando en Nicaragua) son más complicadas y se demora más tiempo. Sin embargo, sólo tardamos alrededor de una hora y estábamos en suelo nicaragüense. Pasamos por San Jorge, una playa un poco sucia, sobre el Lago Nicaragua para ver la Isla de Ometepe con sus volcanes, pero había tanta bruma que se hacía difícil verla. De ahí seguimos hacia Granada, la ciudad más antigua de América. Es un pueblo colonial, con las casitas pintadas de distintos colores (bien fuertes), con muchas iglesias muy antiguas. Paseamos por las callecitas, un poco acalorados (la temperatura nunca bajó de los 30C). Al día siguiente fuimos al volcán Masaya, un volcán activo, pero pese a eso se puede llegar hasta el cráter con el auto. Las fumarolas ahí arriba eran bastante fuertes, pero la vista era muy buena. Hicimos una excursión a unas cuevas hechas por los caminos de lava en la última erupción del volcán y vimos algunos murciélagos. Fue divertido. También paseamos por el mercado de artesanías y el mercado local donde E se compró una remera a 1.25 dólares. El último día en Granada recorrimos el mercado y compramos algunas cositas muy baratas (L se compró 3 remeras por 3.5 dólares!! ) y después de un chapuzón en la pileta para sacarnos el calor nos preparamos para partir hacia otra ciudad muy antigua: León.

Deeper into Central America
By now we are used to border crossings and know that each one is a little different. In preparation for the trip we’ve read lots of blogs describing long and chaotic crossings in Central America but crossing the Costa Rica-Nicaragua border at Peñas Blancas took us only about one hour. There is always a lot of asking involved because relevant buildings are poorly marked or not marked at all, so knowing the language definitely helps. These borders are also infamous for the aggressive ‘helpers’ that jump at you promising to make crossing easier. We had a bunch of those come to us but we waved them off quickly. Apparently the worst crossings are yet to come, particularly going in and out of Honduras.
Nicaragua has a huge lake, Lago de Nicaragua, that reminded us of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia and Perú because it looks more like a sea than a lake. We bordered the lake for about two hours from the Costa Rican border to Granada, our destination for the next two days. Founded in 1524, Granada is the oldest city in America. Some of its buildings (e.g. bars, restaurants and shops) have been restored, others are being renovated while others are still crumbling. Most have inviting inner patios and the facades are brightly painted in countless different colors. All of it makes for exactly what you expect of a lovely, charming colonial city. Funny how the context changes what we think of doors and walls that are falling to pieces (we took lots of pictures of those!).
We also learnt that Nicaragua has a string of volcanos running its length. Close to Granada is the Masaya Volcano, apparently the only active volcano where you can park your car right at the crater. The rangers told us the last eruption was way back in 2008 so we felt reassured that nothing would happen to us. The parking spots are all marked “Park you car facing exit”. Once there we climbed to a mirador but the fumes were so strong that we stayed only long enough to take a picture. We also ventured (with a guide) ~180 meters into a tunnel that was formed by lava flowing out of the volcano during one of the eruptions. M and T were very excited, protected with their oversized hard hats and using their flashlights to find bats. When we turned all the lights off we could not see our own fingers an inch away from our eyes.
After the volcano we went to the city of Masaya for lunch and the artisan market. The crafts at market were not great although we ended up buying not one but two hammocks nearby. The real market was the old market. It reminded us of the markets of Bolivia. A labyrinth of narrow, dirty, chaotic passages home to stands of raw meats covered in flies next to cheap chinese imports next to crafts next to fruits and vegetables. The kind that make L want to run away and E want to stay peeking.
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