I was pretty excited as we drove away from Laguna de Apoyo towards Granada. I knew that this was one of Victoria’s favorite places, and considering how beautiful and fun the lake had been, that could only mean good things. Plus, the drive was nice and short! Maya curled up and fell asleep in her new spot, the comfy hole behind the armrest between seats, and I stood on Victoria’s lap so I could watch the city approaching.
As soon as we got there I realized two things. First, Granada is way pretty! It’s a very old place, and you can tell the buildings have been there a super long time. There’s so many colors everywhere, which probably means there’s a ton more that I can’t even see! It’s right up against another lake too, even bigger than the one we had just left! Sweet. The second thing I realized is that Granada is WAY HOT. Holy. Moly. I’m talking hot like you can see the pavement sweating. As soon as we got out of the car me and Maya were panting, and I don’t think I stopped the whole time we were there. The roads are all cobblestone and tile, and where they hit the sunlight Maya couldn’t even walk. The sun was like some great yellow monster, snarling and spitting heat rays at us all day. As you can tell, I was plenty content to hang out in the shade.
Luckily we had a super comfy place to stay! There aren’t any great camping spots in Granada, and since it was so hot My Family decided to find a hotel that would be okay with me and Maya too. We found a great spot called Casa Sacuanjoche. The main room was big and dark and quiet, the perfect place after hustling through Granada. There was even a curious kitten living there. I really REALLY wanted to play with her, but My Family didn’t think that was a good idea. Apparently “dogs never win”, whatever that means?
Jason spent some time working, and regrettably chose the open air courtyard just outside of our room. Nice and close to the food and water, but almost always in the sun. All I could do was lay around with my tongue hanging out. Apparently we were there towards the end of the dry season, which means it’s the driest time of year in Nicaragua. Man… HOT!
We spent the next couple of days exploring the area. Granada is really nice to dogs, which meant Maya and I could go pretty much everywhere with Victoria and Jason. Regrettably, the first place we went was to the vet’s office. The stupid puppy needed yet another shot. And this time I had to get looked at too! The vet was really nice, but the half hour walk almost made me cry (and I don’t think Victoria was far behind). Oh, and remember how I said Granada is really nice to dogs? Well, apparently the cab drivers didn’t get that memo.
Otherwise we had a ton of fun here. We went out to restaurants, walked through the main garden (called Parque Central, as it’s called in almost every city we’ve visited on my Big Adventure), and met some really nice and funny Granada residents. There are a lot of people who came from other places to live here, but there’s also a lot of people who were born here that speak at least a little bit of English. I guess they get a lot of Adventurers down here.
Speaking of Adventurers, we met up with Andrew, a friend of My Family’s, to go see his property. Andrew is from back home, but he and his sister visited Granada years ago and loved it so much they wanted to have a place they could call their very own. I was all excited to walk there and check it out, but then we got into a taxi, and the taxi dropped us off on the shore of that huge lake. Yep, they were forcing me onto ANOTHER BOAT! What is it with My Family and boats?! I thought this was supposed to be a driving trip! Sheesh!
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t so bad. It was a very small, very pretty boat, and the waters of Lake Granada are very calm. We moved slowly, and I got to sit on Victoria’s lap the whole time. Maya didn’t seem to mind at all, but still, the whole thing just makes me a little bit uncomfortable. After about twenty minutes we arrived at an island. There are hundreds of them in Lake Granada. They’re called isletas, and you can actually buy them with human money if you want to! Andrew did just that, and he’s building a hotel called El Espino. Pretty cool.
We got to spend the whole morning on Andrew’s isleta, running around off leash, barking at the water, checking out the plants, and playing with our toys. I’ve been sharing my toys with Maya, because she’s just a little baby. I don’t mind. My Family brought along Aardvark, which has become her favorite. It was a Christmas present for me, but you’re supposed to share your things. I may not have chosen to be an older sister, but I’m still going to be a good one. Anyway, our morning on the isleta was the perfect escape from the city. It was so much cooler there, and just really pretty. I guess I can sort of see why someone would want to live on an island, at least for a little while. We headed back to Granada and planted ourselves in the best shade we could find around Parque Central. My Family sipped coffee and shared their breakfast with us, and it was decided we’d leave Granada the next day. I guess we’re going to come back another time, when the weather is just a little bit cooler. Apparently it’s going to start raining around here pretty soon, so the heat isn’t quite so bad. I’m not a fan of the rain, but I would like to spend some more time in Granada! I mean, Victoria and Jason went out for a pretty fancy dinner our last night there, and me and Maya were allowed to come with them! How rad is that?!
The next day we said goodbye to Granada and headed off to the beach. There had been talk of checking out the huge island in the middle of Lake Granada (it’s called Ometepe), but it was decided that we didn’t really have time (phew!). My Family has these things called ‘visas’, and they were about to run out. They were just pieces of paper, where could they go? I found out that humans from one country only give humans from another country a certain amount of time to visit. After that they have to leave, at least for a little while. It’s a pretty complicated process, which is why each border crossing is so long and tiring. I don’t really get this stuff. I mean, if you’re having fun and not being mean to anyone, why can’t you stay as long as you want? I guess it’s just one more of those human things that don’t make a ton of sense, once you stop to really think about it.
So skipping Lake Nicaragua, we were headed for the southern Pacific beaches. Victoria had been there before, to a town called San Juan del Sur, but we were hoping to stop a little further north. I guess San Juan was very busy, and there was another beach that was supposedly much quieter but super pretty. It was called Playa Gigante, and the name had me excited right away. Once we got there, off the highway and after twenty minutes of bouncing down a dirt road I was definitely not disappointed! Playa Gigante is a sleepy little town with a huge, beautiful beach and super nice people. Basically, everything I could ever want.
We camped at a place called Gigante Bay. This was a really fun hostel with a huge field next door for campers. We looked out our back door at the ocean, and aside from the occasional wandering dog, chicken, pig or frog, we had the place to ourselves. There were also plenty of nice people staying in the hostel, so the funky bar was always full of music, happy voices and the delicious scents of cooking. As you can tell, this stop was right up my alley!
The heat did not leave us alone in Gigante, however. The first day we got there was nice and breezy, and I was content running on the beach, biting at the waves, bowling Maya over and covering her with sand (ha!), and snuggling on laps next to our camper. The next day dawned hot and bright, with none of that beautiful breeze. That meant far more time spent panting on my back, with My Family stuck to the shade, trying to get Maya to come out from under the Big Truck every once in a while. It was still a super cool place to be. Jason was happy because the internet was good and the sunsets were beautiful. Victoria liked the sunny times and the great fish tacos in the bar. Maya’s always happy as long as she’s allowed to wrestle with me and eat and drink a ton. Oh, that reminds me, our meals were switched up this week! Instead of the regular stuff, me and Maya got fish, rice and vegetables for dinner! Man, you’ve never seen two dogs eat so fast! I don’t think the food even hit the side of Maya’s mouth! Trust me, I savored every bite.
Our last day in Gigante was also to be our last day in Nicaragua. We only had a couple days left on those pesky visa things, but also a huge holiday was coming up. Personally, I love holidays. At home that always meant My Family wouldn’t have to work, and we could go do fun things all day. This holiday that was coming up, however, was called Semana Santa, and it was special because absolutely EVERYONE celebrates it in Nicaragua. And most people celebrate by going to the beach. My Family thought that meant serious chaos was coming, and while we were talking about it the ground started shaking. It was almost like a preview! I wasn’t scared, because I’ve been in plenty of earthquakes before. In fact, I notice earthquakes that My Family can’t feel at all. This was a pretty big one, however, and we found out later that some nice people in another part of Nicaragua got hurt from it. Not cool at all.
With the earthquake behind us, we packed up the Big Truck and set out for the border. We were headed for Costa Rica, the seventh country visited on our Big Adventure. I can’t believe it! Seven countries? Maya is a little less than four months old and she’s already been to three countries. That’s more than some grownup people! Man, are we ever lucky dogs! Nicaragua had been a ton of fun, though I wasn’t going to miss the heat much. Victoria promised we’d be back when it was a little bit cooler, and I’m going to hold her to that. If we had had a bit more time we would have stayed anyway; there’s A LOT of the country that we didn’t get to see. For now it’s on to Costa Rica, where I’ve been promised we’ll see a ton of monkeys. What is it with humans and monkeys?
PS: You can see some of the photos My Family took here.