Sat 21 Nov 09 - Sun 22 Nov 09 130 °F
The heat here in Granada, Nicaragua is unbearable! That was my first observation as I got off the taxi. The taxi driver told me he knew where Hostel Oaises is. He didn't! So when we reached town he asked some guy on the street and he pointed us a few streets down from Central Park. We reached a beautiful street that was blocked off for traffic. The street was filled with trees, tables and restaurants on both sides. Some guy told us that the hotel is 2 blocks down that street. So I got off the taxi and walked towards the hotel. Four blocks later and no sign of the hotel. I stopped some local guy and I asked him. He laughed and said the hotel is on the opposite side of town. He started giving me directions then he said "I'm walking in that direction too so just follow me". He seemed quite nice and when he found out I'm from the states he switched to English. His English was surprisingly good. Turns out he lived in the states for several years. We started talking politics and he kept saying if I can get out of this place I would in a heartbeat. Nicaragua has a certain allure to some people including myself. Nature is spectaclar, the people are simple, everything is very affordable but that's all from a visitor's perspective. For the people that are living the daily life it's a constant struggle to survive. I understand what he was trying to say. A few minutes later we ge to the intersection where Oaises is. He bids me farewell and we part ways.
I walk into Oaises and I was pleasently surprised. The hostel is quite nice with a very laid back atmosphere. I immediately find Luke and I settle in. My bed was one of 16 in a dorm-style room. Many people have recommended the Bearded Monkey which has been a popular hostel for backpackers. The problem with popular hostels is that at some point management starts caring less about the upkeep of the place since they get a steady flow of customers. Luke stayed there and didn't think it was very clean and many of the bathrooms didn't work. What a shame! Oaises had a swimming pool, free internet, plenty of hammocks and a giant mural. There were people lounging, swimming or napping in hammocks at all times of the day.
It was hot, sweaty and sticky. As soon as I settle in I asked Luke to head out to get some water and lunch. We walked around town and saw many restaurants, coffee shops and oddly enough many watch repairmen! There was a street market but I guess there's a street market in every town. It definitely felt like a poor version of Antigua. We grabbed lunch and Luke headed back to the hostel and I went to go up the bell tower at one of the churches. The church was somewhat centrally located and had a beautiful facade. I paid a dollar and climbed up the narrow spiral stairs to the top. The view was beautiful. You can see all of Granada, mountains and volcanoes at the horizon. I stayed there for quite a while just admiring the view and I waited to see the sunset from up there. As I waited some man came up and grabbed the ropes tied to the bells and started ringing them. It was pretty loud standing next to two giant bells. While I was up there I met a couple from Texas. The girlfriend is Nicaraguan living in Texas. She was down there visiting her family and her boyfriend came to see her. We chatted a bit about the different places to see and visit in Nicaragua. She was telling me about all the places where she was going to take him. He seemed very young and shy but excited about being there. I watched the sun disappear behind the mountains and watched as the sky turned into a beautiful painting. It was very peaceful.
Luke had met a few people the night before and we all ended up going to the pool hall. Pool halls in Central America are macho hangouts. Guys go there to drink and blow off some steam so you hardly see any women. We walk in and there were four girls with us. Everyone was staring at us of course. I went to the back room to check it out while we waited for a table. There were people playing cards, some playing the slot machines and one guy was passed out on a table! I head back and we had a table. The guy comes over and racks the balls with his forearms. He was pretty fast and good at it. The place was pretty shady but we had a great time. After a few rounds of pool we decided to get a late night bite. We went to that first street where I was dropped off. The street was alive with people sitting on the tables set up on the cobblestone street. We had dinner and watched people walk by before we went to sleep. Well attempted to sleep! It was way too hot and sticky to really sleep but the next day we were heading out to Ometepe. I was hoping it's a bit cooler there.