Woke this morning in a reflective mood and started my day by checking the laundry. It still had a few hours to go, so I popped down to my office to start the day. Not a bad place to work.
I’ve been feeling a bit rushed through Central America. I had been waiting for the last of my gear to arrive into Guatemala and so I pushed back about six days my date of departure. I had about 11 days make to down to Panama to load the bike aboard the Independence. Normally this sounds like plenty of time to go the near 2,400 ams, but needing to average about 250kms/day on average doesn’t leave much time to take things in. In the end, I needed to leave without the last of my gear and get on with things. Lesson learned, just take off and get it shipped later – hind sight is 20/20.
Granda however puts you just in the right mood. Only a short 35 min ride up Carretera Masaya, I stayed at this little hotel off the main Calzada where everything happens, Hotel Jerico.
The whole vibe of the place screams just one thing – CHILL… and that is exactly what I did.
The last few days were long time in the saddle and even small movements of my shoulders, neck, and back were producing splintering pain. I check-in, dropped my gear, peel off my riding pants and jacket, pulled on some shorts and a T-shirt. Made a right at the hotel entrance and walked down about a block and a half. There I found my salvation – Cocoberry Spa – OH YEAAA!!! Walk right in and was offered a cool glass of water while I looked over the menu.
Aha! a mid-tissue massage, that’ll work. A minute later I was being led up a spiral staircase and left to change and get on the massage table face down. I think I must have been really tired, as the tenseness of the miles just melted away as her strong hands just went into my shoulder blades and next thing I knew, I awoke from a deep slumber. The masseuse whispered in my ear saying “Por favor dese la vuelta” – that was 60 minutes of pure bliss and physical renovation. Best $20 I’ve spent in a long time.
Next order of business, now that the body got some maintenance, the food bag. A friend of mine recommended Roadhouse Grill right up the Calzada. There I met “Rico Suave” – who you say? Yes, every town, and even more so those that are touristy, have a Rico Suave. Some of you may recall a video game called Leisure Suit Larry… well, this is the live version of this stereotype.
I walk in the door and he comes right up to me, shakes my hand like I’m his long lost friend and starts trying to guess where I’m from. After about the 12 attempt, I ask if he just wants me to tell him as this may go a whole lot faster. He then goes on to tell me that his daughter has a house in Baja… ok, and I’m interested in this little gem because why? This is followed by asking me if I’m interested in cigars… “sorry, I don’t smoke – anything” he then excuses himself and heads over to talk to these two blonds – obviously a much richer opportunity for a slickster like this. Here he is putting on his best game.
After some food, I went out walking for a bit and enjoying the town. It is simply amazing how much Granda has changed. I had first visited Nicaragua and Granda specifically in May 1998 – 15 years ago. It was a sleepy run-down town that had seen better days. Most of the buildings were in disrepair and the cathedral was in bad shape. Over the years when I worked in Nicaragua I visited Granada many times, and once even had the chance to go into a house of one of my colleagues whose family still lived in there. It was like stepping through time. I could honestly say that Granda was 15 years ago what Chinandega is today.
However, Granda has changed entirely, focusing on tourism. It is like Antigua with the added bonus that it sits on one of the largest lakes in the Americas, so large in fact that it generates waves and is rumored to have fresh water sharks. Touring through the “isletas” with a cooler of iced beers chatting away with friends is one of my favorite memories of Nicaragua. I’m so glad this town is being rescued and turned into not only a source of income for the local economy, but saving a piece of the past.