We barely crossed the aircraft door when we realized that we would, once again, renew with new discoveries and experiences in Nicaragua. I must saw that the month we spent in Florida seemed a little long, even if we had the chance to visit many of our parents and friends. Our main goal during that month was however accomplished: get ahead of the schedule with regards to the schooling of Maël. The next few weeks will be rich in learning, but not necessarily in line with the curriculum…
We arrived at night at the main airport of the country, in Managua. A taxi was waiting to take us immediately to Granada, a former colonial town founded by the Spanish in 1524. On the road, we could immediately realize how much this place was different than the US – and it was exactly what we were looking for!
This first day was free to allow us to get acclimated. We explored the surroundings of our hotel (Hotel El Corazon). At each crossroad, it was a feast for our senses: from the new odors close to restaurants to vivid colors painted on buildings. Our first missions today were 1) to connect to the Internet (so find a local SIM card for our iPhone store) and 2) find cordobas, the local currency.
The first mission was easy, but we noted that a customer does not have the same importance as it has in the US. The wait was rather long and the process a little chaotic, but eventually, we got what we wanted. We were recommended the best place to exchange our US dollars and we found it in a bike rental and repair shop! The alternative is to use men walking on the street. I never thought exchanging US dollars in local currency would be similar to dealing with drug traffickers.
With both our missions completed, we could finally stroll around the city. The ascent of the tower of the main church offered us a splendid view on the city and on the immense Lake Nicaragua. For lunch, we found a restaurant specializing in vegan and healthy foods with a splendid courtyard.
With our kids, a nap is often required in the afternoon. So we returned to our hotel to enjoy the pool and allow the boys to relax. Our evening meal, at the Marlin restaurant, was our first clash with the prices in Nicaragua. The $16 fisherman’s platter was gargantuan! (Compared to 100 euros per tail in Europe for just the lobster tail).
Our first impressions of the day: people are welcoming, friendly and smiling. The city is beautiful, clean and largely merit the detour!
Today, we meet our guide, Marcos, for a ride around the main attractions of the city. The strong point of day will be our visit to the market, where the shambles transports us into another era. The boys will enjoy the ride in horse-drawn carriage to the kids park located on the edge of Lake Nicaragua.
This morning, waking up is tough. This is the first time in months we had to put an alarm to wake us up! Our hike to the Summit of Mombacho Volcano is at 8:00… We realize the chance we have to never have to be really pressed for time.
The ascent of the volcano is accessible for our group which counts Lohan (age 3) and papy Jean (age 78). In fact, a truck made the ascent for us and we deposited us directly on the summit. At the top, the weather is very cold with the wind and humidity prevailing in the thick cloud layer that surrounds us.
The hiking trail circumnavigates the crater and the estimated time to complete it is 1h30. We will need a little more, but to my surprise, Lohan will be able to do it by itself without too much fuss. He’s gaining endurance for the benefits of everyone else! Maël meanwhile capture several fine specimens of insects: butterflies, beetles, dragonfly, mosquito, spider.
In the evening, I stay at the hotel because I don’t feel too good: fever (101.5F). The family however appreciate their meal at the restaurant along with a break dancing show in the street to the rhythm of Michael Jackson.
Today, it was another beautiful day of excursion. We had a special request for our guide: he told us that there was a village with a few witches nearby, so we asked him to take us to meet one. Himself, he had never done this so he set out to find elders in a park to find the precise directions for one of them… The experience was interesting and the kids had a first contact with white magic.
We then continued our day with a visit to a workshop to learn about all stages of manufacturing pottery. We spent the afternoon swimming at the Laguna de Apoyo, a lake in an old volcano crater. The water was quite warm, probably 90 – 92F…