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  • 1. Margo & Kyle visit Nicaragua
    July 5-10, 2009
  • 2. The hotel
    Patio del Malinche
  • 3. Hotel Patio del Malinche is a small, 16-room hotel in the heart of Granada. It’s a former colonial house, with two large courtyards surrounded by covered walkways.
    The owners are from Spain, and their English guidance helped us navigate from day to day.
    Every day, we were served yummy breakfast (included in price!) that included lots and lots of fruit—sometimes including pitaya, or dragonfruit, which we strenuously search for in Florida.
  • 4. Street view of our hotel
    Patio del Malinche
  • 5. Bar by the pool
    Patio del Malinche
  • 6. We would have brought one of these chairs home if they had fit in our suitcases. (Um, if they were free.)
    Patio del Malinche
  • 7. Margo definitely fell asleep in this hammock one day.
    Patio del Malinche
  • 8. Our room: #12
    Patio del Malinche
  • 9. Views of the Volcano
    Mombacho
  • 10. Mombacho Volcano
    Granada
    Granada lives in the
    Shadow of Mombacho
    Volcano, which you
    constantly see over
    your shoulder no
    matter where you are
    in the city.
  • 11. One day, when we peeked out at the volcano from our hotel, it looked like this . . .
  • 12. But the next day it looked like this . . .
  • 13. And sometimes it would be totally cloudy.
  • 14. It looked over old monasteries . . .
  • 15. and over Lake Nicaragua, the 10th largest lake in the world (and the only place where sharks acclimate to fresh water).
  • 16. Day One
    Travel and Exploration of Granada
  • 17. The plane that flew us from Miami to Managua
    Travel
  • 18. Rooftops of Granada
    Granada
  • 19. We tended to call this “tourist street,” because of all the burger and pizza and smoothie joints. Still fun, though.
    Granada
  • 20. Guadalupe Church
    Granada
  • 21. Day Two
    Masaya Volcano, Masaya Market, Pueblos Blancas
  • 22. I was erupting with joy to visit Masaya Volano (which, unlike Mombacho, is active). (Did you get the joke? Erupting?)
    Masaya Volcano
  • 23. Unsurprisingly, we met friends! On our first night, two Americans from Chicago (Jonathan and Leia) overheard us and invited us to split cab fare with them on the next day’s adventures. We agreed.
    Masaya Volcano
  • 24. Margo, always a clever one, can find Nicaragua on the globe. Can you?
    Masaya Volcano
  • 25. This is the point where, we’re told, the indigenous people threw “children and virgins” into the smoking crater. The Spanish priests freaked out and “exorcised” it. Yay 3-D crosses!
    Masaya Volcano
  • 26. Hard to explain how crazy it is to look way down into a smoky volcano crater. We heard that if you come at night you can see a red glow.
    Masaya Volcano
  • 27. For an extra $1.50 US, you can get a tour into one of the awesome, unpaved, unlit, caves below the volcano. Margo took to the role of spelunker quite naturally.
    Masaya Volcano
  • 28. “I was made for adventure! . . . Wait, we’re not actually going to have to walk anywhere, are we?”
    Masaya Volcano
  • 29. One of the caves we didn’t walk into. But from where Kyle is standing, he can literally see China.
    Masaya Volcano
  • 30. Empowered! Dramatic! Photogenic!
    Masaya Volcano
  • 31. Down into the cave, led by our friendly tour guide, who wrote our names on his hand to remember them. He asked us to explain the meaning of the word launch, and we did.
    Masaya Volcano
  • 32. Bats, everywhere! This is one of the few good pictures that came out of our random snapping. They were great fun.
    Masaya Volcano
  • 33. We turned around once we hit this big rock pile.
    Masaya Volcano
  • 34. After spelunking, we wore ourselves out climbing another slope of Masaya. This is looking way down into one of the inactive craters.
    Masaya Volcano
  • 35. We did it!
    Masaya Volcano
  • 36. Masaya Volcano
  • 37. Contemplative . . . thoughtful . . . moody . . .
    Masaya Volcano
  • 38. It’s hard to tell, but we walked way, way up this road. You can’t even see the little hut where we started.
    Masaya Volcano
  • 39. Masaya Volcano
  • 40. After returning from climbing a really steep slope to the summit, we saw this at the bottom. Oops.
    Masaya Volcano
  • 41. San Juan del Oriente—the store where we bought a fun percussion instrument.
    Pueblos Blancas
  • 42. Looking down into a lake from high up. (It’s hard to show distance. That’s because we didn’t bring a 3-D camera.)
    Laguna de Apoyo
  • 43. Margo: “That’s the biggest papaya I’ve ever seen! We have to take a picture of that!”
    Laguna de Apoyo
  • 44. After 45 minutes of winding driving, we made it to a small restaurant/multi-cottage hotel at the bottom of the laguna.
    Laguna de Apoyo
  • 45. A couple slides ago, we were way at the top of those hills looking down.
    Laguna de Apoyo
  • 46. Laguna de Apoyo
  • 47. Day Three
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 48. After braving one volcano on Day 2, the intrepid pair felt they could handle another. Kyle, especially, looked tough.
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 49. After taking the “chicken bus” (for locals) to the base of the volcano (even though that bus wasn’t really scheduled to go there!) we hopped an old army transport for a 30-minute trip to the top.
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 50. Looking down from the top to the 365 isletasthat Mombacho spit out into Lake Nicaragua in a huge eruption long ago. Granada is just out of view to the left of this view.
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 51. Unlike the dry grass at Masaya Volcano, Mombacho is covered in a “cloud forest” because of the clouds that it’s usually covered in.
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 52. Nicaragua has 70+ protected wildlife areas, and they do an awesome job of upkeep. Highly recommended.
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 53. [Insert appropriate Lord of the Rings quote here.]
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 54. One view of the crater, from the opposite side.
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 55. Another crater view.
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 56. These flowers were everywhere!
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 57. Mombacho Volcano
  • 58. Mombacho Volcano
  • 59. Mombacho Volcano
  • 60. A compost pile that would put ours to shame.
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 61. On the way up and down on the big transport vehicle, we passed tons of coffee plants, like these.
    Mombacho Volcano
  • 62. Day Four
    Out and About in Granada
  • 63. The outside of the huge (ex)monastery, just a couple blocks from our hotel.
    Granada
  • 64. Inside the monastery were tons of pieces of artwork and beautiful courtyards. The buildings have served many purposes over the years, including a school, museum, and a place for fancy rich-people parties.
    Granada
  • 65. A scale map of Granada! Neat!
    Granada
  • 66. Pre-Columbian statues taken from Zapatera Island, in Lake Nicaragua.
    Granada
  • 67. Granada
  • 68. Another of Granada’s six colonial churches.
    Granada
  • 69. The main square is dominated by this one.
    Granada
  • 70. Granada
  • 71. Granada
  • 72. Beautiful tilework was everywhere. We’re pretty close to wanting to try our hand at something like this ourselves.
    Granada
  • 73. If you have a giant Jesus statue, why not fancy him up with some Christmas lights?
    Granada
  • 74. For $1 US, you could climb the bell tower of one of the churches. Very worth it.
    Granada
  • 75. We were getting hot, but still smiling!
    Granada
  • 76. (This is about 45 minutes before we decided it was too hot and just gave up.)
    Granada
  • 77. Granada
  • 78. Day Five
    Las Isletas, Farewell to Granada, Managua
  • 79. We walked down to the shore of the lake, passing two miles of giant mango trees dropping their fruit into rotten piles all along the way (which were neatly sweeped up).
    Lake Nicaragua
  • 80. Luckily, this dog was there to help move the pig along. Otherwise, who knows what chaos might have erupted?
    By Lake Nicaragua
  • 81. After a long walk down by the water, alongside a mile of empty parks and bars, we did some pretty easy bartering to get a tour of the 365 isletas in the lake.
    Las Isletas
  • 82. To Kyle’s great disappointment, we saw no sharks.
    Las Isletas
  • 83. Our 12-year-old, Spanish-only-speaking guide would tell us which ridiculous mansions were owned by Americans and which by rich Nicaraguans, and sometimes how much they cost (a lot).
    Las Isletas
  • 84. One tiny island had monkeys on it! Our guide said (er, signed) that they eat whatever the tourists give them. I thought they looked mighty tame . . . .
    Las Isletas
  • 85. “Daddy, I want an island this year for my birthday!” “But darling, you got an island last year!” “Now I’d like another.” “Oh, smoochy-poo, you know I can deny you nothing. An island it is!”
    Las Isletas
  • 86. One last look at the main central square (the parque) in Granada.
    Granada
  • 87. Granada
  • 88. For our last night, we stayed in Managua, the capital, right across the street from the airport, because of our early flight. The Best Western was a series of connected cottages. Fanciness!
    Managua
  • 89. We had e-mailed with some awesome missionaries for Christ in the City International, who introduced us to a cool Managua chicken restaurant. They said that in anticipation of the anniversary of the Sandinista revolution, Christmas trees were popping up everywhere.
    Managua
  • 90. And that’s it!
    You really ought to visit Nicaragua. We’d like you to take a minute right now and think about when you’d like to go.
    Lots of love,
    Kyle and Margo