Trip Start Nov 18, 2005
Trip End Nov 28, 2005

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Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Sunday, November 20, 2005

We woke up around 10am for the real start of the vacation. We had worked it out with Don Miguel for a ride to Granada. Since there was 6 of us, it would be quite difficult getting a cab to fit us all. So Don offered to throw us all in his truck for the hour plus long ride to Granada, for the nic sum of around 500 cords. More expensive than a single cab, but since we all wouldn't fit in one, it worked out for the best. Those initial days/hours in a new country don't lend themselves to pure comfort for everyone. Most people are still apprehensive about setting off on their own, and prefer the comfort of the group. Stevens, Patek and myself hopped in the bed of the truck and enjoyed the weather (nice a warm compared to the frigid temps of Chicago) as well as the scenery flying past us. We talked that comfortable talk of those who are just starting off their vacation. No worries, and no cares. The only item on our to-do list was enjoyment; and I think anyone can understand that.

We arrived in Granada and it was immediately apparent the difference with Managua. Granada has that colonial feel; at least that's what the Moon Handbooks tells me. It truly was charming in its old-world Spanish feel. Brightly colored buildings, a buzzing central square (Parque Central) and an identifiable city-life; unlike the drab depressing sprawl of Managua. Don Miguel and his chica (the young Nica from the Managua entry) drove us around and dropped us off at Zoom's, a bastardized American Sportsbar opened up by yet another set of gringos who fled to Nicaragua for some unmentionable reason. The owners of Zooms were nice enough, welcoming all who came crawling into the establishment. The place boasted of the best burgers in town so obviously we threw down an order. Zooms also has the satelite hookup and all the NFL games blaring away. There were a fair amount people, mainly guys enjoying the Sunday afternoon games. I don't know, maybe my dispassion for all things American is getting to me, but I was sort of disappointed to be seeing a bar with the NFL on. I wanted the exotic-ness of it and hearing Fox Sports and their ridiculous sounds sort of started my Granada experience off with a bad taste in my mouth. Good thing Granada had so much more to offer.

Stevens and I headed off to procur lodgings for the evening. The guidebook spoke of two cheap, but very nice hostels that I had my eye on. The Bearded Monkey and the Oasis sounded like exactly what we were looking for. The Bearded Monkey was all full, but thankfully the Oasis had room, all for the cheap rate of $9/person a night. The Oasis is a great place, a little south and west from Parque Central, close to the shady area of Granada. But it truly is an Oasis of sorts. A peaceful atmosphere, replete with a pool and enough hammocks to accomodate 6 or 7 people. The Bearded Monkey may be the hipper place, with the all-hours bar to keep to hydrated, but when you want to just relax and enjoy some quiet time, the Oasis is where its at.

We settled in nicely at the Oasis and after some pool time, as well as some cleaning up, we headed out on the town. It being Sunday night, there wasn't too much action. After the sun set, it was surprising at how dark everything was. Coming from Chicago, where street lights and neon signs tend to brighten the way, Granada at night on a sunday is a little stark. We tried to find this bar called La Fabrica that we had heard about from other travelers on Travelpod, as well as in the Moon Handbooks, but it was no where to be found. I think it was closed, as even for the rest of the trip, we could not locate it. We ended up settling on a place called "el Club", sort of over towards the Bearded Monkey. Nothing spectacular about this place, they featured terrible music (although my msuic tastes dooms most places to be categorized as such) and semi-tasty panini's. Essentially it served as a decent place to relax and grab a few or twenty drinks with the guys. It really is a surreal feeling on the first night in a new town. The newness of everything puts a hop in your step, as you continually want to head out and explore. After "el Club" we rolled over to the Bearded Monkey and their bar. The bar and scene at the Bearded Monkey is one of the more happening hostels in Granada. Probably why it was all booked. We had a good enough time there and proceeded to drink our weight in Nica Rum. After a while we rolled back over to a club across from "el Club". Not sure what it was called, but they had a Nica band playing, as well as a nice courtyard to sit and talk. This place was patroned by many locals, so I enjoyed it a lot more than the Bearded Monkey and its crux of travelers. We ended up meeting a few young Nica's and started the dance party from there. A long night turned into a stumbling mess out of the club. Half the group split off and headed back to the Oasis. One of our flock managed to ensnare a Nica in his net and brought her back to the Oasis. The staff there was none too pleased as they put up quite a fight about allowing her into the Hostel. He eventually convinced them she wasn't some prostitute and just the 'lucky' girl. Quite a first night in Granada...I have a good feeling about this place. Little did I know that my second run through this town in a couple days would show me the seedy underbelly of town.
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