Day 6 (Thursday), Granada/Masaya, March 13

Our excitement for today was visiting TWO markets. The first was during the last hour of class. My instructor, Javier, asked me yesterday if I wanted to take a walk around town to work on vocabulary. I jumped at the idea to be able to point and ask, “What’s that in Spanish?” (in Spanish, of course), so I could find out useful words like “curb”. Both Annabelle and Kathy and their instructors ended up joining us.

Piñatas, not just in Mexico.

Piñatas aren’t just in Mexico. The Nicaraguan markets have them in all sizes and shapes. They come with matching decorated sticks for breaking.

One surprise: Piñatas come in all sizes and shapes. We were under the impression that they were only Mexican. Goes to show… In Nicaragua, the sticks used to break the piñatas are also decorated with crepe paper to match the piñata.

I thought we’d done a pretty good job of exploring our area. Not so. Javier took us a block to the left of our street — and to another world again. As we walked by, he pointed in the general direction of where he lives. Then we found a huge market, with all kinds of clothes, shoes, purses, fruits, dead animals (i.e., chickens) and just stuff. It was pretty overwhelming. We got back to school just in time for him to leave to go to the classes he’s taking to learn computers.

blog  Mercado - Granada 1

On the way back from school we saw why we were happy NOT to drive in Granada.

A long bus turns onto a narrow street in Granada.

On the way home from school, we watched as this very long bus tried to turn onto a rather narrow street.

Bus successfully turns into narrow street.

One the way back to the hotel from school, we watched as a too-long bus tried to turn into the street. As you see, it was succesful.

Driving in Granada

As we were going to lunch, I finally got a shot of driving in Granada.

For lunch we tried an Irish pub-type place. Great menu: grilled cheese and tomato sandwich on whole wheat with French fries– my usual comfort food. Kathy joined me; Annabelle tried the chicken enchilada, which was huge. The whole menu was not Nicaraguan. In fact, we’ve had trouble finding “Nicaraguan” food, which I define as black beans and rice and fried plantains. We have found a lot of what I would consider “Mexican”: quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos…

Granada has some great logos on signs, and Kelly's Bar is one of them. Like the name, the food was not very Nicaraguan.

Granada has some great logos on signs, and Kelly’s Bar is one of them. Like the name of the place, the food was not very Nicaraguan.

After lunch we stopped by a couple of hotels to see if we could find a place for me for Sunday and Monday nights. I decided to stay in Granada, where I knew the area, rather than joining Kathy and Annabelle in Managua and finding something to do for a day. Hotel La Pergola, a half block from our current hotel, has a room.

Hotel La Pergola

Hotel La Pergola, between Hotel El Patio del Malinche and the school and my second hotel. Annabelle and Kathy are in the right foreground.

For this afternoon we signed up for a trip to Masaya, the artsy town halfway between Granada and Managua. As it turned out, the whole school signed up. The van, which was designed for 10 plus driver, had 13 or 14 packed in…including some instructors.

The van to Masaya

At least 14 people crammed into the van for the trip to the two markets in Masaya as well as the Verbenas, folk music and dancing.

We started at the regular market in Masaya, where Kathy was finally able to replace her glasses’ case. Due to a miscommunication the three of us and one instructor were back at the van in the allotted 20 minutes. No one else was, except the driver. About an hour later, the others showed up, and we went to watch hammocks being made. I’m not sure why — Tio Antonio’s in Granada shows much more. Then it was off to a parking lot by a lake overlooking the volcano Masaya, complete with smoke rising.

The volcano Masaya

The volcano Masaya, a little smoke is visible at the top left.

Masaya ice cream man

At the stadium by the overlook for the volcano Masaya, we all enjoyed an ice cream bar. Unfortunately, they weren’t too frozen.

We spent a good 30 to 40 minutes here, with a quick, verging-on-melting ice cream bar. The good thing about all this was chatting with other students and hearing their plans: five Canadians, a Norwegian and the three of us.

Then we loaded back in the van and headed for the artisan market, which is what I’d been wanting to see. By the time we got there, it was dusk and many stalls were closed. I did buy a cloth purse that I hadn’t looked for. Kathy got a mug and both Kathy and Annabelle got cool t-shirts for the outrageous price of $4.00 each.

A typical wood picture, in the market.

A typical wood picture, in the market.

Logo on smoothie stand in Masaya.

Logo on smoothie stand near the plaza in Masaya.

Four brothers perform during the Verbenas

Four brothers perform traditional music during the Verbenas in Masaya. The performances take place every Thursday evening and maintain the folk traditions of Nicaragua.

The final event was the Verbenas, folk dancing and music at the market. We understood these began anywhere from 5 to 7. In actuality, it was more like 8. We thought we were leaving at 9; it was closer to 9:45. Our hotel closed at 10… What we got for at least an hour was canned music. This was followed by some brothers playing guitar, a sort of xylophone, drums and another instrument. They might have played well — it was difficult to tell, because the speakers were turned up to full blast. The dancers, from some group that’s 24 years old, were interesting. Nice costumes. But after a few, I was ready to leave. And the dancers alternated with the brothers a few times. I finally asked the guy from the school who was still with us (the instructors who were with us mostly lived in Masaya and disappeared in the course of the evening) when we were leaving, because our hotel would be closed.

We got back to the hotel around 10:30, and the doors were closed. I knocked a few times, and the night watchman came. It was OK, because another guest was trying to figure out how to get in, too.

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