GRANADA AND A NEW YEAR
Once again Rachel and I would be spending Christmas and New Years away from our friends and family, and although it’s hard because we really do miss them, it’s becoming a tradition to spend New Years abroad. We love seeing other cultures and how they celebrate the holiday season, and it’s a great way of creating new memories that will last a lifetime.
We celebrate Christmas on Agape just like we did when while living in a house. We decorate the outside of the boat with lights and even make our compression post into a makeshift Christmas tree. We have our morning coffee while opening presents, call our families and eat good food. I even attempted to make Rachel’s mother’s famous bon bons for a taste of home, and although we didn't have our families there to celebrate with, we had our friends John and Becca. Christmas morning they came over so we could share in Becca’s family tradition of eating ourselves sick on beignets. We wore festive ugly Christmas sweaters and drank mimosas until it was time for an afternoon nap. The evening was spent down at the beach trying to work off all the food we’d eaten that morning. We swam, surfed and walked the beach until sundown, soaking up every minute of our time there.
For New Years we wanted to do something a little different and not just sit and count down the clock while on the boat. Rachel’s friend Christianne would also be coming down to visit, so we chatted with our friends John and Becca on S/V Halcyon and decided that Granada would be a great place to celebrate.
Granada is Nicaragua’s oldest city and it’s unquestionably the country’s busiest tourist hub. The cobble stone streets, busy markets, horse drawn carriages and baroque churches truly make it a picturesque city. After several hours of bussing south we found ourselves in this bustling city and checked into our hostel, Hostel Oasis Granada.
The hostel is located near the main market and only a few blocks away from the main city square. They have a small pool to cool off in the heat of the day, tons of hammocks to relax in, nice private rooms and delicious pancake breakfasts in the morning. It was a great place to relax and wait for Christianne to arrive.
Christianne was supposed to get in pretty late the night before New Years Eve and I fell asleep early while Rachel waited up. When Christianne finally got in, she insisted that Rachel come with her to the bathroom, that there was something strange going on in there and she didn’t want to go alone. Rachel went in to find strange and funny noises coming from the stalls, as she tried not to laugh, our other friends, Jeff Kaler and Josh Newton, stumbled out of bathroom stalls laughing. It took a second to register what was actually happening. Christianne had surprised us with bringing down two more of our friends. Now it was party!!!
We spent the next day exploring the city and the huge market with our friends, as well as searched out the best firework stands to buy fireworks to shoot off later in the evening.
That evening we planned to meet up with our friends John and Becca and their friends that were also in town visiting. We had organized a big group dinner at a restaurant John and Becca had been to in Granada a couple of years ago. It took all day to hunt down the restaurant and make a reservation, but it was well worth the mission it took to find it. The Coral, seamed to be one of Granada’s nicer restaurants and was located just off the main city street. The dinner was delicious and the staff was great!!! They served locally sourced meats and a specialty cocktail list, made with local fruits and flavors. As always, I was surprised when the bill came at the end of the meal. For the nine of us it was just over two hundred dollars! In the States I would fully expect to pay two to three times that, maybe more.
After dinner and as the sun began to set, the streets came alive as the party began to start. We didn't really know what to expect, but from our previous experiences with firework shows in Central America, we knew it would be a crazy, beautiful, and probably a life threatening experience.
Granada did not disappoint!!! Every street corner had people gathered around as others would run into the middle of blocked off intersections, light their rockets, mortars, or other preferred explosives and then dash back into the crowd to watch the show.
At one point I thought I was going to get in trouble when I ran in to set off my fireworks and a police officer stopped me. But instead of being reprimanded for lighting off fireworks he just pointed up at the power line stretching across the street and directed me to move over about ten feet so I wouldn't hit it.
Photos above by John Guillote.
It was a long, loud, crazy night of fun and explosions that lasted into the early morning. Even though waking up my body felt as though I had passed through a war zone, I would definitely recommend Granada as a place to visit for New Years. In fact, I would recommend that everyone go and spend at least one New Years in Central America so they too can see how another culture celebrates.
The market in Granada, like most other markets in Central America is another unforgettable cultural experience. We always love to visit these markets and to see all the colors, textures and even smells that come with them. Seeing the meat and fish stalls are always interesting, seeing things we’d never see back at home in our local grocery stores. Pig heads, tongues, feet, lungs, hearts and even brains, nothing seems to go to waste down here.
Again, if you’re ever traveling through Central America we highly recommend visiting the local municipal markets, but make sure you have a strong stomach!
We finally had to say goodbye to Granada and start making our way back to Agape. We reprovisioned on our way through Chinandega and unpacked our bags. The next morning we planned to sail south to nearby Corinto where we hoped to surprise my grandfather who’d be stopping there on his cruise ship to Panama City.