As a Northern Hemisphere denizen, I cannot help but mention the weather in any wintertime photo locale post in which the location is in a warmer clime. After all, with bomb cyclones and polar vortexes having placed much of the U.S. and Canada in a deep freeze for the first week of the new year (even Florida had snow for the first time in 30 years!), it only makes sense to write about some place warmer.
For this month’s entry, that place is Granada, Nicaragua. This jewel of Spanish colonial architecture in Central America, Nica’s one time capital and the country’s most conservative city is one of the most vibrant towns on the planet. I can hardly believe that it was exactly one year since my visit.
Like many other UNESCO World Heritage Cities in Latin America, Granada is famous for its churches. This one, Iglesia de Xalteva, is a marvel of pink baroque design.
The main square in most Latin American cities is almost always fronted by a cathedral. The twin-towered Catedral de Granada is so large that it is almost impossible to get a picture of the church in its entirety; I though the shot above, taken from the square across the street, was an interesting composition.
The square, Parque Colón (Columbus Park), as seen from the cathedral’s landing, halfway up the left tower.
The view east, towards nearby Lago de Nicaragua.
Just some gringo, dressed in his backpacker best and showing off his pasty gams.
Another church, closed to the public, houses an absorbing museum of lake culture in the former convent next door. Looking east, the sky really was this blue.
The ex-convento’s charming courtyard.
Although this picture could seemingly have been taken anywhere, I snapped it from a rocking chair in the ex-convento’s rear courtyard.
Typical residential architecture. Note that houses erected on north-south streets often fetch a larger price when sold, as one real estate selling point is the fact that during either half of the day, one side of the sidewalk will always be in the shade.
The motorcycle is a common mode of transportation in Nicaragua, and the afternoon siesta a common reward awaiting the driver. (The siesta is also the reason why the street in the previous picture was so devoid of people. Even the tourists went inside to nap…except for one particular gringo.)
Random ruins discovered while wandering. Forgive the penis graffiti.
A 30-minute walk from Parque Colón leads to the shoreline of Lago de Nicaragua, Central America’s largest lake and the home to much-feared, seldom-seen freshwater sharks.
Sandflies along the lakefront were oppressive, and kept most people and animals away, except for these cows. While in Granada I heard about a hostel near the lake that boasted lakefront views but quickly went out of business because guests found the sandflies to be such a menace.
With all this street chaos, I knew that I was getting close to the Central Market.
Spice vendor, salt, cardboard sifter, and a barely-there smile.
As I also noticed in Granada’s rival city, León, locals unwind in the evenings by dragging their chairs onto the sidewalks in front of their houses and simply watching the world go by. There is a lesson here, I think.
Volcan Mombacho, as seen from my hostel.
Volcan Masaya, just outside of town and easily visited after dark by organized tour, on which you can peer into the crater itself. General rule of thumb: if you can see bubbling lava from such proximity, you are too close.
Nicaragua, with frequent direct flights from both Dallas and Houston, is one of the most accessible – and safest – countries in Latin America. Its colonial jewel, Granada, is worth the trip just by itself. Go…and stay awhile.
All pictures were taken with a Nikon DSLR camera. All images are the property of GringoPotpourri unless credited otherwise, and should be used with permission only.