La Esperanza Granada is a volunteer organization that works with communities in and around Granada to improve the education of their children.
They would like to show you one of these communities, San Ignacio, and a school where they work. In the midst of poverty, it is happy place where Nicaraguans work hard to make a basic living and raise their families
The walking tours are available Tuesday to Friday beginning at 9.30 AM for about two hours. The cost is $5.00 per person.
A very interesting trip. Visitors can gain a valuable insight into the Nicaraguan education system, as well as the various daily social and economic challenges facing teachers, students, families and the wider communities.
Let's see an Other Nicaragua with la Esperanza Granada !!
Also known as Plaza del Independencia, La Plazuela de los Leones was where much of Nicaragua's most notorious history transpired. When Leon was burned by a volcano in 1610, all power transferred to Granada, making it the "jewel" of the Spanish crown.
So, it was during this period that English and Dutch pirates began to hide in the shallows bays and swamps of Caribbean Islands, recruiting and arming slaves and indigenous allies, particularly at Jamaica, where Henry Morgan began his career. Morgan lost his sailing ships to the Spanish during a failed effort to take control of Villahermosa, Mexico. What he had left were 6 large canoes which he led up the Rio San Juan, stealthily reaching Granada in such a way as to completely surprise the Spanish. In 1665, Morgan burned the city, set up canons in this plaza, and captured 500,000 pounds sterling silver, before escaping up the Coco River into Miskitia. Other pirates who successfully sacked Granada include Captain Gallardito (1670), and William Dampier (1685). Eventually, the Fortress of the Immaculate Conception, at what is today El Castillo, was successful in at least slowing the pace of pirate attacks.
The word Filibuster comes from the Spanish word Filibustero which means pirate or buccaneer. The most famous filibuster was that of the American William Walker, who was inspired to take control of Latin American territory by Freebooting. This approach to establishing a new country for individual purposes became popular after the successful freebooting of Texas from Mexico by resident Americans, and the expansion of this process by President Polk during the Mexican War. Prior to his successful take over of Nicaragua in 1855, Walker had failed a similar attempt to take Baja California. In any case, it was in front of the Casa de Los Leones where Walker took the oath of office as President of Nicaragua. Walker and his band of sharp shooter Kentuckians were not popular, and after Walker passed laws making slavery legal, Costa Rican, Guatemalan, and Honduran armies began to form and launch an assault to free Nicaragua. In December of 1856, the remains of Walkers army under the command of English mercenary, Charles Frederick Henningsen, once again burned the city and fled. Eventually, Walker was captured by the English and turned over to the Honduran army, which in 1860 executed him at Trujillo, Honduras. The once opulent city of Granada never really recovered after that. What remains of the original Casa de Los Leones burned by Morgan is a stone entryway shown here, but the restored house and courtyard do date back to Walker's time. Inside the museum are two wonderful primitivist paintings, depicting the founding of Granada, and the other William Walker's filibuster.
Rough in appearance inside and out, Iglesia Guadalupe is located at the confluence of Calle La Calzada and Calle La Libertad, flowing in the direction of the waterfront. This location caused it to become used as a fortress and become the first sacked by marauding pirates. Nicaraguan troops used the church as a garrison to hold William Walker and his troops, who apparently damaged the interior walls. So, while originally built in 1624 by Benedictine monks, it has been rebuilt several times. The current facade dates back to 1945, but has a much older appearance as it is heavily used by the locals after a day at the beach or night at the disco. Check out the video clip of this church at night. It's a popular place.
There is a surprising number of establshed homes on islands here, and yet there is also a wealth of wildlife. There's a good view of Mombacho, and a cove where a couple of old freighters are parked. Check out my video clips of monkey island and the tourist boat launch at dusk.
The central pedestrian avenue known as Calle La Calzada starts at the Parque Colon, where the Cathedral is located, and proceeds straight past Iglesia Guadalupe, where it widens into a divided parkway and continues to the waterfront where the Ferry to Ometepe and San Carlos docks. Most of the towns best hotels and restaurants are on Calle La Calzada, including ours Hotel Dario'. Many restaurants and bars have outdoor dining in the street here, and at night street entertainment frequently comes through here. In the morning, the streets are dead, but the colors of the storefronts is itself entertaining. Check out my video clip of this place alive at night.
Ancient in appearance and setting, this Iglesia and convent was originally built by Franciscan monks in 1529. It was burned to the ground by Henry Morgan a century and a half later, and another 200 years or so after that William Walker used the current structure to house his troops. According to the Moon guide, it has also boarded U.S. Marines, Canal Route Engineers, and a University.
The Granada Museum is surprisingly sparse in terms of exhibits, but there are a couple of important mural paintings depicting some of Granada's historical events. Also, there is a collection of children's art. The most important aspect of the building is the remains of the original front entrance that had survived the William Walker period. On one outside wall, there's a plate explaining how one part of the house was used as a Walker horse stable. The architecture of the home is the main feature, however, so it's worth climbing the stairs to look down at the courtyard. Around the corner, also inside the building complex is a gallery of local art, mostly low quality modern paintings, catering to tourists.
There are a large number of small islands in Lake Nicaragua, right near Granada, created by the explosive eruption of Mombacho thousands of years ago. The rocky waters must have been hazardous for Spanish galleons, as they probably also served to hide pirates during the 17th century. Today, these islands are a popular purchase for the deep pocketed who want a tropical island on a lake near a decent tourist town. They is also a refuge for wildlife, as for example, a small infamous island is home to a family of monkeys.
Most tourists secure their seat a 12 seater canopy boat through their hotel or at one of the concessions in town. However, we found it convenient to simply bargain for a boat of our own, for which we paid no more than just two seats on the tourist boat. The best way to bargain would be to walk down to the water where the boats dock. To do this, either hike the distance or take a taxi to regional park, where all the discos are located. During day, it's safe enough to walk through this sometimes crowded waterfront park. We paid the equivalent of $35 for a 2-1/2 hour tour, which I think is a pretty good deal even for Central America.
The Cathedral parish dates back to the founding of the city in 1524, and the first structure in this location dating back to 1583. However, the church has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, so the current structure dates back to 1900. An earthquake a few years back revealed the fragile nature of the current structure, so in the back along Calle La Calzada, one can see major erection of steel beams and columns. The interior is painted in pastel colors similar to the exterior. Some ornamentation symbolizes the great importance of the Granada as a global port during the height of the Spanish empire.
Chocolate workshops are organized by ChocoMuseo and there must be minimum of two people. When I signed up I was hoping for more people showing their interest. At the end we were four, together with Petra and an English couple. At the workshop we learnt how to make our own chocolate from cacao beans. Of course, we did everything by hand. Natalia explained about cacao tree, cacao nuts and how to obtain fermented cacao beans, the base for making a delicious chocolate. She brought us to one of the patios and the workshop began.
First we toasted the cacao beans in a clay pot over an open fire. Then we pealed tha cacao beans. This was quite a work and we all got blisters. From the husk we prepared a cacao husk tea. Then we ground the cacao nibs (shelled and roasted cacao beans - their taste is nicely bittersweer and they have the crunchy, toasty flavour of roasted nuts) to obtain a thick paste that we used for preparing different types of chocolate drinks: Aztec – with chilli, Mayan – with vanilla and cinnamon, chilli and Spanish – with milk.
And finally, we prepared some well-ground pure cacao paste to make our own chocolate bar (each of us made two), and we could add vanilla, cinnamon, almonds, cashew nuts, orange or rum. Mine were with almonds. The models filled with cacao paste had to stay in a fridge overnight before they were ready to enjoy. I left Granada next day early in the morning so I could not come. But Natalia said there was no need to worry. The chocolates would wait for me until one week later when I was back to Granada.
The chocolate workshop was a great experience, we had lots of fun and the chocolate was just delicious. It usually starts at 5pm. The price is US $ 20 per person if there are 2 people, and less if there are more. We were four and it was US $ 16 per person (December 2010).
I went to Pueblos Blancos (White village)...north of Granada .The first village I visitted was Catarina.The bus station is the one near the market(mercado) Before I reach the station a bus passing by,so I waved and ask if they will go to Catarina or not.Normally the conducter of the bus will also try to look for customer as well,he always wave hand to anyone that trend to be their passenger , so we just ask them.To be quick and short ,just say the name of the place where you want go,they will say yes or no.This trip I was lucky about the bus connection .Many time I want a bus ,one will appear ,I don't need to wait that long at all.If you see or hear the bus that will go to the direction of Niquinohomo,that's the one that will pass Catarina.The bus fee is 10 c.d (0.50$)take only 15 minutes to get there.I walked through the village to the mirador de Catarina to see great view of lake Apoyo.There's an entrance fee of 25 c.d(1.20$)I met an Italian lady who was my neighbour yesterday at San Angel hostel.We talked a bit and she told that she was robbed in Managua,someone took her necklace and ran away,luckily it's not so valuable one....At the mirrador that time was 10.00 am but it's so hot ,the heat was so tense already and there's no shade to hide from the sun, but the view over there is great.You can see far until Granada and Mombacho volcano.That day is so clear so we can see lake cocibolca as well.
After Catarina,I continue to Niquinohomo.We can go by tuktuk(motor taxi) if you don't want to wait long.I took tuktuk ,cost 10 c.d per person.It took only 5 minutes.I told the driver to drop me around park central.He's nice and friendly driver,he tried to be my tour leader by telling things about the village and even stop the car at the entrance of the village where the statue of Sandino standing to let me take some picture,how nice!!
Nicaragua government declare Niquinohomo as a legacy of the nation in the year 2,000.It's the birth place of Augusto Sandino.We can visit the museum about him ,locating in one corner of the park central,but nothing much to see,only some of his pictures and little stuffs.There was no staff ,no entrance fee,when I walked in ,there were just few students reading the book in library room so I just walked through to see things inside.There were some other statue in small garden at the backyard.
On the other side of central park ,there's an old church (1689).
The first building on this place dates back to the latter part of the 16th century. Construction work for this beautiful building was finished in 1809. Its name was "Casa de los Leones", and it is currently called "Casa de los Tres Mundos". In 1856 it was destroyed in a fire set by William Walker. At one stage it served as theatre and was a private home in the 1920's. Today it is a residence and workshop for international artists. There are concerts and exhibitions occasionally (see my Granada nightlife tip).
Granada’s hippest strip, Calle La Calzada, starts east from the Parque Central and runs all the way to the lake. The brightly coloured street has been recently reworked with a modern pedestrian-friendly design, but with an old feel featuring cobblestone, street lamps and wide sidewalks. La Calzada is flanked by casonas (large colonial houses) and historical buildings. The street contains the city’s highest concentration of foreign tourists, with restaurants, cafés, ice cream shop, hostels, tour operator's offices, internet café and even laundry service. It’s a great place for enjoying a cold drink and people-watching.
About halfway towards the lake is the 17th century Iglesia Guadalupe. Beyond the church you’ll pass a baseball field before arriving to the lakeshore with the ferry terminal and malecón, a lovely, recently remodeled boulevard, refreshed by a vonstant breeze. At the south end of the malecón is the Centro Turistico, an area with restaurants, discos and cafés, popular with the locals. There is a new lighting along La Calzada all the way to the lake. Taking a walk or ride at night is beautiful.
more pics in the travelogue
One thing that I really wanted to do while in Granada was taking a boat tour to Las Isletas, a miniature archipelago of roughly 365 islands. Scattered along the shoe from granada, these delightful tiny islands were formed when Volcan Mombacho blew most of its top into the air thousands of years ago, some of which landed in Lago de Nicaragua (also called Lago Cocibolca). The islets range in size from very small to some that are large enough to have several houses built on them. There are around 1.200 people living on the islets, most are fishermen. Some islands have little hotels or luxurious houses owned by wealthy Nicaraguans (some of them can be rented). There are also uninhabigted islets with only some palm trees growing on them.
You will surely enjoy taking a boat and cruising around Las Isletas, not only for the stunning scenery but for the aquatic birds which frequent the area, including egrets, herons and cranes. Despite consisting of mostly volcanic rock, the islands also has a lot of vegetation, mostly palm and fruit trees. There are hundreds of mango trees but unfortunately the fruits weren't in season. Normally you can spend an afternoon at an island beach swimming and taking the sun. But due to extremely lot of rain in the last months several islands were under water. Actually, there were no beaches in the time of my visit (December 2010).
Most tour companies in Granada run trips to Las Isletas and you can also do it yourself by kayak. Petra joined me at the boat tour which we aranged with a guide that was recommended by Marcela from La Siesta. We took a taxi to the restaurant by the lake, about 1 km from the Centro Turistico entrance, where the friendly guy was waiting for us. We took a two-hour tour among the islands that were relatively close to the shore, learning about the history, life of the islanders, seeing the diversity of houses built on many of the isletas (from small simple cottages to mini mansions, as well a church and a school), local fishermen and lots of birds and monkeys.
We enoyed the boat ride to Las Isletas, a relaxed and fun way to spend the late afternoon. And at the end we were rewarded with a magical sunset with Volcan Mombacho in the back.
more pics in the travelogue