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Thread: A non-expat with family living in Nicaragua

  1. #1
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Aug 2007
    Philly - León
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    Default A non-expat with family living in Nicaragua

    My family's Nicaraguan - that's why I live here half-years. It's not so much a snowbird thing, more a migrating butterfly bit, whereby I look forward to the next adventurous transmutation. My wife comes with me to the States, mostly to shop & relax, though I enjoy showing her the sites. Simple walks around local parks with paved trails by lakes, through woods, past baseball & soccer fields and basketball & tennis courts, and public gardens impress her. We visited the Statue of Liberty and the 9/11 Memorial in NYC, but mostly we hop the train to Atlantic City or bus into Philly to eat in the Reading terminal market, catch a foreign flick (too few in Spanish these days) or just hang out watching ships ply the Delaware river or gawk at tourists around Independence Hall/Liberty Bell.

    Her kids stay in Leon & go to school; grandma takes care of them (Nica-style). I take care of the bunch all year round, and, though I love the kids as my own, I had/have no desire to adopt 'em. Possession is not my thing. Though she said it wasn't necessary to marry her I did anyway after a couple years together in order to be able to show her my country (which she had no desire to visit at first when I suggested it, but now can't wait to return.) My wife is a good woman; I'm lucky.

    This weekend we did an overnighter to almost-foreign Granada. Wife & kids all love the place. Now that the rainy season has begun (it skipped this weekend) there are not so many Ticos filling up their hotels, so it's easier to find a nice room. It only takes us a little more than 3 hours from Leon, costing some $3.50 per head (taxi, inter-local (A/C) & bus) one way. Arriving late, cause we watched Sharapova win the French Open, I decided - what the 'L, roll out the Ritz - we stayed in El Alhambra, a classy-fancy hotel with pool on Parque Central.

    All were starved so we tried the restaurant Asados El Corral just off the main drag, calle La Calzada. The steaks were tender & cooked to perfection, just too small (less than 6 oz) for my money, 300 cords a pop (with IVA+tip, add 25%). With bellies full (thanks to beer & baked potatoes with cheese) we strolled down to the lake. A boxing ring was being set up for a Saturday nite fight - by the Red Cross, appropriately. A wedding party was happening at the huge Hotel Granada across the boulevard. Past the baseball fields before the lake there's a stink-zone that assaults the nose & raises bile to the back of one's throat. (Raw sewage in beautiful Granada? No, it must be a leak, a temporary mishap.) We just walked faster & breathed less. But that proved a problem - by the lake shore those anticipated gulps of fresh air were peppered with gnats. Swarms of God's little creatures in some kind of aerobial sexually frenzy at dusk. (It seemed our eyes & nostrils were the ideal places to lay newly fertilized gnat egglettes.) We fled. But before fleeing we noticed the level of the lake was down considerably from when we last visited (Jan? Normal dry/wet seasonal variation?).

    Nights in Granada are truly entertaining. But first we revitalized horizontally in A/C'd comfort while the kids watched nonsense on the big HD TV screen. To see & be seen in Nicaragua's greatest daily show, calle La Calzada in Granada. Europeans galour, with their aristocratic airs (not the Irish), and mild mannered Canadians, and boisterous, sometime gauche Americans, all believing themselves to be the audience, while Nicas, somes of astounding abiliites, some wannabes, perform in their midst. Street gymnasts with boom boxes, tumbling, spinning, balancing on one hand legs locked in lotus, and dancing in synch. And a contortionist, a man with double-jointed shoulders takes his arms, hands held together, totally around his body front & back over his head, without releasing his hands. It gave me the heeby-jeebies to watch. We'd seen others gyrating & twirling batons, pins & hula hoops of fire to rock music, naturally, on our last visit (not this time). There are armies of street vendors, some with pretty nice, creative jewelry, or a grasshopper or flower woven from reeds. The folk story of too short, fat-headed Pepe pursuing the too tall, elegant Spanish lady belongs to Leon, but kids in Granada do an abbreviated version for the benefit of foreigners slobbering down cold beers and pass the hat. (It was good to see Granada got rid of an X-rated interpretation that had Pepe on his back on the street with the 'lady' straddling & humping him. Never in Leon.)

    There are tons of restaurant/bars with tables in the street on both sides of la Calzada, mostly in a two-block stretch. We picked the Roadhouse to park our weary bodies, sip suds (OK, the kids had cokes) and snarf down munchies. Their crosscut french fried potatoes had me thinking 'franchise' (Chick Fil'A?) We had a good table and our waiter was prompt, and I thought good, until it came time to pay the bill. The charges were OK, but he returned the plastic wallet with pen and the slip I needed to sign, without my credit card. He disappeared. So I went inside to complain, beer buzz or no. Management found him. He began this 'big deal' search for my card - that simply must have fallen out somewhere. Curiously he found it behind a planter. Vigilance - the price of credit card freedom is eternal vigilance. (I check all charges on the internet regularly, of course.) I found it very curious that no one in Granada asked to see my ID card when I paid with credit card. Everyplace else in Nicaragua usually asks, though some lazy clerks want me to write my ID number on their receipt for them, so I give them a random number that looks right. I always pay what I owe.

    We never visit Granada without having breakfast at Kathy's Waffle House. The new owner has done well to maintain Kathy's spirit about the place. The food is very good quality, wholesome eats of gringo-sized portions. The coffee is good to excellent (not sure why it varies) with never-ending cups (American style, not sure how many places still offer free refills?). IMO there is no better homemade bread anywhere. We delayed going so we could watch Nadal go ahead of Djokovic but further delay was too much of a sacrifice, so we skipped the last set and walked directly to Kathy's.

    On the bus trip back we got off at MetroCentro for a lunch of cheesecakes & iced coffee at Casa del Cafe.

    Upon reflection, it appears I'm committing grave philosophical error. Living to eat, rather than eating simply to live. I can only plead not guilty on account of temporary insanity for "being married with family" out for the weekend. The rest of the week it's beans, baby. Soy un frijolero filosofo.
    I never met a Semite I didn't like.

  2. #2

    Default Re: A non-expat with family living in Nicaragua

    I hope the new face of Granada is the new face of NIcaragua. The tourist and missionary haters will rant on, but it's great to have a place to go for some diversion. It seems to get better and better there.

    Not that Leon is slouchy either: I very much enjoy my time there too. I've been well-fed and well-treated in both cities. I wish we had a Leon or Granada in the north . . . and I wish both enjoyed higher elevations.

    The Calzada was a stroke of brilliance, cross streets are filling in now, and the streets parallel as well. The town has a smell of fresh minted money (well, OK, maybe not next to the lake).

    Who says Nicas are commies? Not the ones in Ganada.

  3. #3
    Dog Whisperer cookshow's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
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    Default Re: A non-expat with family living in Nicaragua

    Anytime I am on the Main I try to spend at least a night or 2 in Granada. Love hitting the mercado in the morning, walking all over. Calzada is neat and at night you actually see a good mix of Nicas and tourists. Lots of good food, cheap rooms, there is a lot to like.

    Course I like MGA too.
    ‎"You know what you say when people tell you you can't do something? Fool, shut your mouth up!"
    Ernie K Doe

  4. #4
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: A non-expat with family living in Nicaragua

    Quote Originally Posted by cookshow View Post
    Course I like MGA too.

    Good description of la Gran Nada, DY. I felt like I was there.

  5. #5

    Default Re: A non-expat with family living in Nicaragua

    Great read, very immersive.

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