Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Granada: Living Large

I got settled into my Airbnb here in Granada yesterday. What a great place!

I have a whole small house to myself, complete with a lush private garden with swimming pool.  The house has a nice large sitting area and kitchen open to the outdoors through large window openings.  The bedroom is big and air conditioned. The whole place is nicely furnished and decorated. And to top off all this luxury, the place comes complete with two three-legged rescue dogs who are very friendly and nice, plus a garage for my rental car.  "My" house is located just off the Parque Central, just a few minutes walk from a dozen really good restaurants.  All this for $50/night! Amazing.  I am living large.

Last night it rained really, really hard. The first real rain I've seen since Mazatlan, before Christmas.  The rain was torrential at times, deafening as it hit the metal roof of the house. There was tremendous thunder and lightning, too,  taste of what rainy season is like here. I got up when the rain was falling really hard as I was interested in how the open air living area was faring. The important stuff, like the furniture and kitchen, was dry, but one corner of the living area had a good 1/2 inch of water or more on the floor. I thought might be a good idea to close the large rollup shades to try and stop some of the rain from coming in. It was dark, I couldn't see to well and the rigging to lower the shades was new to me, so it took a while. As I was getting things figured out, I realized that I must have been quite a sight for the neighbors during the flashes of lightning. A naked, myopic gringo clambering around on a window sill, wrestling with the lines of a flapping rolling shade. It would have looked a lot better on a boat, with the addition of big waves, spume and spray and a sail in place of the shade.

Today the city looked nice and washed, so I embarked upon a self-guided historic walking tour. I had to do it in two halves. First because I forgot my wallet, which eliminated the ability to buy the beer I needed to refresh and renew myself after walking for over an hour in the 90+ degree very heavy, humid heat. Second, because I drenched my shirt in my own sweat and was no longer presentable.  The walk gave a good sense of the city and I enjoyed myself, a bit more on the second half of the hike, after I had rinsed off, changed my shirt, drank about a gallon of water and had a nice cold locally brewed draft beer.

Many of the buildings in Granada have Moorish architecture elements, just like the buildings in its namesake city in Spain, home to the magnificent Sultan of Granada's Alhambra palace and fortress.  The Granada here was founded in 1524 and was constructed by the Spaniards as a showcase city in the New World. The city was a rich trade center, which made it a target for pirates who ransacked the city three times. Grenada fought a civil war with León in the 1850's. León hired a megalomanic American mercenary, William Walker, who burned Granada to the ground leaving a placard, "Here was Granada" just before he declared himself President of Nicaragua. So, the city was rebuilt four times to become what it is today, Nicaragua's most popular tourist town and gringo retirement destination, which has been driving up property and land values rapidly over the past few years.

My nice digs in Granada will be a perfect place to chill while I'm waiting for Hannah to arrive on Monday. I went grocery shopping, so I can have some healthy, home cooked food. I have a couple of good day trips planned to get me out of the city and into some cooler territory. Now I just need to make a few friends to hang out with, the sort that don't stiff me for their bar tab.

I spoke to Dorian, the harbormaster back at Marina Puesta del Sol this morning. Intermezzo is resting comfortably and Dorian has been dutifully flushing the watermaker every five days for me. He's a very nice, capable guy. The marina is a definite option as a place to leave Intermezzo for the summer. I could well be backtracking up here from Costa Rica at the end of the month.

Renee's mom is making good progress, but still has a ways to go. Renee has been dedicating herself to helping her mom recover and her efforts have made a really big difference. Her mom will still need her help, so Renee isn't going to make it back here to sail with Hannah and I to Costa Rica. That's a bummer, but the silver lining is having some rare one-on-one time with my daughter.  Hopefully Renee will be able to arrange things so that she can come down to Costa Rica later to help prepare Intermezzo for summer layup and we can celebrate the end of this sailing season together.

Open air sitting area of my luxury Airbnb digs


My private garden and swimming pool

One of my three-legged companions
...and the other one

Plaza de la Independencia

Portal to the Casa de Los Tres Mundos, the only part of the original structure that survived William Walker's retreat.

Granada street

Hotel Dario courtyard

Calle la Calzada, Granada's main pedestrian restaurant and bar thoroughfare

Iglesia de Guadalupe

Bust of Nicaragua's famous poet Rueben Dario

Granada's malecon on the shore of Lago Nicaragua

Iglesia Merced

Typical Nicaraguan horse and carriage used everywhere to haul just about anything

Granada houses

Volcán Mombacho, puffing in the distance. Tomorrow's hiking destination.