The amazing man powered Ferris Wheel!
The fair with the Rodeo in the background.
Some of our new friends.
More of our new friends after the moonshine incident. Just for the rcord, I almost never smoke, that was a rare, rare occurance.
The city of Granada, Nicaragua.
A very happy cat.
One of the many abandoned houses near the lake, this one providing a home for a family of goats.
The beautiful lagoon.
Sunset over the crate of the volcano.
The festival in Altagracia was a fantastic time, Tamarah and I definitely blew off some steam. The day began with a parade in which the locals were wearing costumes and carrying palm fronds. I do not know why they did this, as I never remembered to ask any of the locals.
After the parade, we made our way to the fair, which was a load of fun. I really enjoy fairs back home and this one reminded me of a fair that we would have seen in a small country town in the states if we stepped back in time about 60 years.
There was a rodeo with bull riding, roping, horse showmanship, etc. A wide selection of tasty and cheap food, beer, the local liqour of choice, Flor D´Caña, potent stuff, a dance hall and some rides. The rides were the coolest part of the fair as they were all hand made out of spare bits of metal and plastic from all kinds of sources like car parts, scrap metal, and kids toys that were somehow melded together and covered with a coat of paint. The craziest part about it though was the fact that they were all man powered! There was a merry go round that used the transmission of an old truck and children's toy carts and bicycles and was powered by the owner of the ride who manually spun the thing. The kids didn't mind though and enjoyed the experience as much as kids back home enjoy our fancier merry go rounds. The ride that really blew me away though was a Ferris wheel that was made of scrap metal and was spun by two burly guys. They literally flung each carriage into the air, spinning the entire massive contraption! I was thoroughly impressed.
We met a ton of people to hang out with, including some expates from Colorado that moved to Ometepe island to farm and open a small hotel, a lone traveler from Kentucky and a boat load of very friendly, and very inebriated locals. I, being the dummy that I am, decided to take them up on a drinking challenge they issued to me. Thinking that it would be beer, I was sorely mistaken when one of my new buddies pulled a clear, unmarked bottle of moonshine out of his jacket and encouraged me to share it with them. Well, being the hyper masculine guy that I am, I couldn't let a challenge go unanswered, so I took a big chug of the stuff and it felt like someone shot a flame thrower straight down my throat! That stuff was potent! So, after going rounds with these guys, we all hit the dance floor and made quite a ridiculous site. First of all, Tamarah and I are much taller than the locals, plus we were the only two gringo's dancing, and lastly, we were both feeling pretty loose at this point and so ended up dancing like total idiots with a bunch of Nicas. Despite that and all the attention we were getting from the locals, we had a great time. We were out most of the night before we bid farewell to our new buddies and made our way home.
The next day we both strongly considered drowning ourselves in the lake to make our hangovers go away. Whatever they distill that rotgut with must be pretty crude stuff. We stumbled our way to the city of Granada, which is a great place to hang out. Its a lovely city and easy to get around.
We went on a day trip to a lagoon outside of town that sits on an active volcano and so has nice warm water. We spent the day there with a big group of travelers and floated around the water on inner tubes, played some basketball, and passed the time with fun people and good conversation.
We came back to Granada that night, had another excellent and incredibly cheap meal and got ready to head to Leon. We arrived today and are getting set up to go on a day trip to a hot spring that also has hot mud bathes. It sounds like a really fun day of relaxing and soaking up some natural beauty.
I sincerely love Nicaragua. It is a great country with friendly people and it is so cheap that you can really have a great time without breaking the bank, unlike Costa Rica which is fairly pricey. It reminds me of the stories I hear of the way America was during the great depression. I don't know if that is an accurate comparison obviously, as I never lived in that time, but from books and movies it seems like a good fit for the most part. People don't have much but they are still proud of who they are and their culture. They work hard, share what they have with each other and make up for any deficit in financial assets with a good attitude. People seem happy despite not having a whole lot. There are down sides though, things go a lot slower and there is a ton of corruption in the government, but hopefully that gets worked out in the next few generations.
Speaking of which, the state department issued a warning about traveling in Nicaragua as the recent elections here have caused a lot of protests, some of which have turned violent. We have experienced none of this and feel perfectly fine, but we have seen a lot of the protestors on their way to rally's. Things like that really make me thankful to live in a country where a pretty dramatic change in leadership can occur peacefully.
Well, I am enjoying my last week with Tamarah before we go our separate ways. Until the next update!