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Travel Diary: Adios Popoyo Beach & Playa Guasacate, Hola Granada!

Travel Diary: Exploring Granada Nicaragua - www.thinkelysian.com

We’ve been traveling in Nicaragua!

So, as you know, a couple of days in to our vacation in Popoyo Beach/Playa Guasacate, Nicaragua we decided on a whim to hop in a taxi and spend 5 days Granada. I am so glad we did. This was such a difficult decision, mainly because we didn’t want to hurt our Playa Guasacate Airbnb hosts’ feelings – we LOVED our stay, but being adventurous people we couldn’t go to Nicaragua and only explore one part of what it has to offer. Living in Texas I know that you can drive 3 hours from Houston and end up in Austin – which is a completely different world. In a great way, of course. But we knew that beaches were not all that Nicaragua had to offer us. We wanted to explore some volcanoes and boat around the 365 islands.

We called the taxi that brought us to our B&B from the airport because we knew he was reliable. That morning we ate our La Vaca Loca breakfast and talked to our Airbnb hosts as we waited for our taxi to arrive. It made me so sad to leave – they were such amazing people and live such an amazing life running their little B&B on the beach. Let me talk about these folks a little bit: Did I mention they are in a band? Yeah, totally cool people. They were even set to play at the international surf competition to be held in Nicaragua a couple of weeks later. It’s funny when I think about people like that – just living their lives the way they want. Not the way they grew up or the way society tells them it should be. Can you believe there are actually people like that? While you’re at work they’re taking a surf break and buying local fruit from the food trucks passing through the town. No 9-5 Monday-Friday for them – they truly live Caleb and I’s life motto “I do what I want!” haha I admire people like them. Good for them! Do what you want! :) I want to meet more people like that.

Our taxi arrived and after a heartfelt goodbye we were off! Headed back down the winding, rocky, dirt road.. this time dodging fallen trees from the gusty wind that came through. A tree had fallen on the power line. I guess that is why our wifi and power was out. Caleb and I did our best to hold it together on the ride there. My eyes were locked forward and my hands clutching the seatbelt and door just in case I couldn’t handle the motion sickness any longer. I think it made it worse knowing that the ride was car-sick-worthy because I literally felt sick the moment I shut the car door. I am a super mental person – I am my own worst enemy. I am happy to say that we both made it to Granada totally intact mentally and physically.

It’s amazing what a difference a 3 hour drive makes. We were no longer in the laid back tiny beach town – there were cars, motorcycles, taxis, horse and carriages, and mopeds hustling all around us. Granada is the vibrant city you see on Pinterest with each building a different color – orange, pink, teal. The buildings have gorgeous terra-cotta roofs and checkered concrete sidewalks around them. I instantly knew we made the right decision exploring Granada. It is exactly what I think about when I hear “Central America” – the rich, vibrant culture literally is all around you. When booking the Airbnb for Granada I made sure we were within walking distance of everything we need. So, as soon as we arrived at Hotel de Internacional (after embracing the AC unit we had been missing in our last Airbnb) we took a stroll around the neighborhood. I read that Granada is a popular retirement place for ex-pats because the cost of living is so low, but I was surprised when we reached a popular street to see so many other them lunching and having a cup of coffee. It was very americanized and touristy. You could spot the tourists walking through with their fanny packs and maps. I knew that we would have to be more guarded in this town because the more tourists you see the more scammers, beggars, and pick-pocketers you will encounter. Just like in any place, anywhere – the city or areas of tourism always have more activity for tricky situations.

Unfortunately, there are some bad people who prey on vacationers – this isn’t just in Central America. This is EVERYWHERE – even in the states. A little boy about 11 years old pushed through the crowd and came up to me with a flower made out of palm leaves. It was really pretty, but the kid looked like trouble. I knew he was trying to sell it and I had no intention of buying it from him. I politely said no thank you even though I didn’t appreciate that he sought me out on the street to target me because I look like a small, nice young lady who could be pushed in to that trap. He kept bugging me and walking along side us while we were trying to talk to a local about a volcano tour. The local just said to ignore him. I did for a while then finally told him no at least 5 times and told him I didn’t have any money. He kept saying it was a gift for me and it was free – so finally I took it hoping that maybe that would make him shut up and leave us alone (I know I shouldn’t have, but I was running out of options and thought that maybe there was a sliver of hope the kid was actually just being nice). But it only made him follow us more, of course – I tried to give it back saying I didn’t want it and didn’t have any money, but he wouldn’t take it. Now, I am from Texas, I have southern manners – but I also am not afraid to voice my opinion when I have had enough. The kid reached for my arm, I threw the flower at him and told him a thing or two… or twenty. Needless to say we saw him stalking a ton of women in that particular area every day, but he didn’t come up to us again. He only cursed at us from a far when he would see us. It makes me angry that there are people like that in the world. He was well old enough to know what he was doing. We saw several kids doing this in the touristy area where all the restaurants were. I even saw two kids playing and laughing eating a sucker one moment and as soon as they saw tourists they put on a pitiful face and begged and when the tourists didn’t comply they shouted profanities and insults at them. It’s a shame that those people can literally ruin people’s traveling experiences. If it was my parents that happened to they would’ve gotten on a plane and taken off home. Those people are the people who deter others from exploring their country instead of welcome others to help it become a better place. TSK TSK! Does this kind of stuff happen to y’all too? I feel like I am always targeted – I don’t know what it is about me but people LOVE to seek me out on this sort of thing. I always wonder what it is about me that draws those people in… PLEASE someone tell me!! :)

Now, our first day in Granada was not all bad. After the carsickness wore off and we let the bizarre flower incident go we began to embrace this town constantly on the go. There were people everywhere always. The central market was packed with people so we decided to see what was going on. Apparently a local retirement or nursing home was putting on a performance. There was singing, laughing, dancing, and lots of cheers as their friends and families watched. All the good started to overcome the bad we had experienced in the first couple of hours here. We decided to have a quiet night, no planning, tours, or complaining. We enjoyed each others’ company in a quiet courtyard restaurant and walked back to our rooms to the fresh AC. Things are looking up for us here.

***It has been brought to my attention that one reader came to the conclusion that this blog posts’ summary is: “impoverished beggars are ‘bad people’ and there are only good tourists” I am not sure where my point has gotten misconstrued. Scammers who prey on vacationers (like the boy with the flower who cursed at us when we wanted to be left alone) are bad people to me. Beggars who genuinely need food and water are not bad people – they need help. Bring water bottles and granola bars for those people. Granada is a destination for tourism and that is what helps the town thrive. As I mentioned earlier – I only wish that those scammers don’t deter the tourism that is helping Granada. I, as a traveler, want to do nothing, but bring tourism and help to wherever I adventure – but I am not saying that every tourist does. There are bad people EVERYWHERE just as I said before. There are bad tourists. There are bad locals. But where there is bad – always look for the good. Give your adventure another chance and give the people a chance after a bad encounter, but always be smart & safe while traveling. ***

 

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