Day 2 (Sunday), Granada / Mombacho, March 9

We thought breakfast was going to be an all-morning affair — a cycling group of about 20 got to the hotel patio, where breakfast is served, ahead of us. Breakfast was huge. Annabelle and Kathy ordered eggs, which came with toast, funky warm bean puree, little wiener-looking sausage, fruit juice and coffee. I, being a veggie who doesn’t like eggs and liking Swiss stuff, opted for the muesli breakfast. This was muesli with raisins, yogurt, toast (as in Italian bread, perhaps — not what we get at home) and a huge “small” fruit salad. Besides watermelon, cantelope, mandarin, papaya there was a little, sour green thing that was mostly seed called a jocote and some purplish fruit, sapote, that I had never seen before but was really good.

After breakfast, we took a quick walk down to the Central Park, where we found the cathedral and several fancy-looking hotels and government buildings.

An official building near the Central Plaza in Granada

An official building near the Central Plaza in Granada

A kiosk/bar in the Central Plaza in Granada, just opening at 9 on a Sunday morning.

A kiosk/bar in the Central Plaza in Granada, just opening at 9 on a Sunday morning. It seemed to me to be China/Japan meets Art Deco.

Bright, bright, bright. Brightly painted chairs and tables in the Central Plaza (Parque Colón).

Bright, bright, bright. Brightly painted chairs and tables in the Central Plaza (Parque Colón).

Then it was back to the hotel, where our Tierra Tour team arrived early. Our guide was Wilbert, a young man from Masaya, a town between Managua and Granada known for its artists and artisans. He gave up painting to become a tour guide, so he could take care of his three daughters (Roberta 7, Emily 2, Diane 9 months). Javier was our capable driver.

The van was a lot more basic than most tours I’ve been on. We loaded in from the back, with no stairs, just a very high step and some help from Javier and Wilbert. Seats were benches along the sides. The two in the front had seat belts, but these were quickly removed as soon as we left the main road and turned onto the road to Mombacho.

First stop was the coffee plantation Cafe Las Flores, where Wilbert explained that the coffee is all organic and the best in Nicaragua. He also showed us an almond tree and how the Nicaraguans eat almonds: inside the first green shell is a red layer. This they eat. Then they crack through the shell we know and get to the nut.

An almond tree, almost horizontal instead of vertical, on the coffee plantation Las Flores.

An almond tree, almost horizontal instead of vertical, on the coffee plantation Las Flores.


What an almond looks like that's just off the tree (Mombacho trip)

What an almond looks like that’s just off the tree (Mombacho trip)


A cosmos growing at the coffee plantation on the way up Mombacho...it's just a pretty flower.

A cosmos growing at the coffee plantation on the way up Mombacho…it’s just a pretty flower.


From a lookout point, we got a view in the distance of Masaya, another volcano.
From a lookout point at the Cafe Las Flores plantation at 700 meters, you can see another volcano, Masaya, slightly in the distance.

From a lookout point at the Cafe Las Flores plantation at 700 meters, you can see another volcano, Masaya, slightly in the distance.

From the plantation, at 700 m, our van and we climbed via a narrow, winding road, a sort of cobblestone, often at what appeared to be a 45-degree angle, to one of the four craters we were going to walk around at the top of Mombacho. Elevation: 1,150 meters, time: about 1 1/2 hours. I have to admit, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic, but Kathy and Annabelle were. It turned out to be a super trip.

Sign at the top of the volcano Mombacho near the Visitors Center

Sign at the top of the volcano Mombacho near the Visitors Center


Mato palo, killing tree. The parasitic tree grows on another tree until it kills its host. In the cloud forest of Mombacho.

Mato palo, killing tree. The parasitic tree grows on another tree until it kills its host. In the cloud forest of Mombacho.


Forest path on Mombacho, cut from trees felled to create the path.

Forest path on Mombacho, cut from trees felled to create the path.


Bench on top of Mombacho

Bench on top of Mombacho

Wilbert, a trained tour guide, explained all the flora and some of the fauna to us. Unfortunately, we only saw the leaves that the monkeys had left behind, no monkeys. He showed us “dead trees”, parasitic trees that grow on larger trees and eventually kill them; pepper trees, whose leaves are natural mosquito repellents; pretty lavender orchids with white or yellow inside; lots and lots of small orange orchids; steam holes (fumaroles); and begonias, some of which have a lemony-flavored leaf that’s edible (and we sampled).

Pepper plant, a natural mosquito repellent, grows on Mombacho.

Pepper plant, a natural mosquito repellent, grows on Mombacho.


Little orange orchids decorated a small meadow on Mombacho.

Little orange orchids decorated a small meadow on Mombacho.


Our guide, Wilbert, shows us the yellow interior of a purple orchid on Mombacho.

Our guide, Wilbert, shows us the yellow interior of a purple orchid on Mombacho. He said the orchids are white, yellow or pink inside.


"Tunnel" on Mombacho, with some tired visitors...

“Tunnel” on Mombacho, with some tired visitors…

We were probably gone more than the hour and a half. Underway we met several larger groups as well as some twos and threes — it seemed to be a popular place for a Sunday afternoon outing.

When we got back, Annabelle and Kathy enjoyed a chicken, rice and salad meal. I got most of their plantain “chips” (cut lengthwise), since the choice in the little restaurant was chicken or beef, and I’m a veggie. They were really good, though.

Back in Granada, we wandered around the Central Park some more and looked over the restaurants. After the wonderful dinner at Zaguan the night before, we decided to go Nicaraguan and went to Comidas tipicas y mas… Kathy and Annabelle tried the Nicaraguan version of a tamale, a spicy corn meal around meat and wrapped / steamed in a banana leaf. I had a veggie plate of gallo pinto (a national dish of black beans mixed with rice), a salad, fried cheese (I couldn’t cut it) and a corn tortilla that was obviously homemade and didn’t resemble any of the Rainbo variety generally found in the US groceries. If I were rating this place, I’d give it one star for being there.

Because the restaurant had no desserts and we wanted a little something sweet afterwards, we wandered around Calle La Calzada, where many restaurants are and where we had dinner. Eventually, we settled on lime crepes at Nectar. We sat outside, more or less bearable after dark. Service in restaurants tends to be European-plus…no one is ever in a hurry.

Our classes at Nicaragua Mia language school begin at 8 in the morning.

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