No, I Don't Want A Hammock, Thank You

We’re taking the public bus from Leon to Granada via Managua: we have to change at UCA, the terminal next to the University of Central America.  On the first bus, we chat to a local guy who has a house in Los Angeles, and when we arrive we need to change to the express to Granada.  There’s no trouble finding it, or indeed them, as the buses round here have conductors whose job it is to shout out the name of the destination, in this case “GranadaGranadaGranadaGranadaGranada” with accompanying “come over here” arm movements.  I walk past the first one to the second so as not to seem too easy, and our bags disappear onto the roof.
It’s full-ish when we pull out of UCA, which in Central America means that all the seats are full and there are about ten people standing.  After five minutes or so, a ten-year old boy gets on, carrying a small guitar, not in a case.  He twangs it a few times and then launches into song.  He does three traditional-sounding numbers, heavy on the “mi madre” and “mi corazon”, and then shuffles over to each seat in turn, waving one hand, in a fist, towards each of the sitters at chest level.  It’s like he isn’t expecting anyone to give him any money, his hand isn’t even open, and in fact nobody does. Then he gets off at the next stop.  We’ve seen many children begging, or in this case busking, but never on a bus before.
In Granada, we see a sign for our hostel, Oasis, and leap off at a totally chaotic road junction.  After checking in, I go hunting for a haircut, as it’s totally out of control now.  I get the job done in Barberia 007.  It’s short, but as that was the only word I spoke to the barber, I guess it’s what I should have expected.
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We’re staying in Granada for a night and then moving to Lago Apoyo, a lake in a volcanic crater, for a couple of days.  We stay in the Paradiso hostel on Apoyo.  It’s lovely and peaceful, with hummingbirds, squirrels and howler monkeys, which we heard but didn’t see.  Here we’re looking down from the terrace to the lakeside: the bar is just down there on the right 🙂
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There isn’t much to do here: swim, lounge about, read, but we enjoy it.  We catch up on a bit of TV, watching episode 2 of Sherlock on iTunes : very good J Back in Granada, we stay at Amigo’s hostel rather than Oasis.  We decide to change after a night, as it’s just a bit too far down the scale for us.  (By the way, we pay about $20 a night for a double room in a hostel in Nicaragua, but what you get for that varies a lot).  Here’s our room, which is on the roof.
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We move instead to the Hotel Jerico, which is a bit more expensive but much better: for example, the light switches have all their wires connected and are attached to the wall, and the bathroom floor is generally dry.  It’s also on the main tourist street, which is packed with restaurants, bars (including an Irish Pub), and vendors selling jewellery.  We have a drink in one of the bars during happy hour as the drinks are really quite cheap, but all the goods come to you: cigarettes, chewing gum, and hammocks.  Many hammocks.  I probably declined to buy a hammock every five minutes or so.  Here’s the main church near Parque Central at a quiet time.  Normally you can’t see it for hammocks.
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Just off here to the left is an Arts Academy where they have music events, one of which takes place while we’re here.  Groups from the school play to whatever audience is passing by in the square, so we listen to a few numbers.  One group (three guitars, drums, vocals) gets up there and plays “Wish you were here” by Pink Floyd.  There’s a restaurant around the corner called Imagine, with a picture of John Lennon outside, and also fake road signs saying “Abbey Road” and “Penny Lane”.  They also have a band on while we’re there, a reggae/jazz combo (two violins, bass, guitar, cajon), and they play a recognisable version of Afro Blue by John Coltrane, as well as some reggae tunes.
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While we’re here, we decide to go on a kayaking trip on Lake Nicaragua with a local guide.  This is great: we start early to avoid the major heat of the day, although I still get massively sunburnt.  Here we are.
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We wind in and out of the little islands in the lake for about four hours, eventually winding up at Mono Island, a small islet with some monkeys on it.
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We also see many birds, as well as bats which rest up under the trees over the water during the day.  Excuse the blurry photo, they were quite a way away.
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Anyway, we had a great time, although I got bitten to death by insects.  We liked Granada.  Off to Costa Rica, the most expensive country in Central America, on the Tica Bus again.

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