Took The Different Route
20 October 2007 | Grenada, Nicaragua
Costa Rica truly is a spectacular place with tons to do, great infrastructure, and friendly locals. Buses are generally on time, lodging is cheap, and the surf is good. Then you may ask, why would you go anywhere else? Well, Costa Rica has unfortunately been lost to full-blown westernization, and has essentially been ¨gringo-ized¨. Americans, Canadians, and Western Europeans brought ¨western developement¨ to an entirely new level, plowing land here, excavating there, and buying up any plot of property they can get there hands on. Most unfortunate is the fact that most developments are being constructed as income or rental properties, which means the owners won´t actually live on the property, go to the local markets, or continue developing a sense of community. Instead they will the units to high-paying tourists, who will do nothing but drive prices up and make it more difficult for Andrew to score a cheap burger and beer. I am completely in favor of positive development and the betterment of struggling countries, however some parts of Costa Rica are getting out of hand. So, adios to Costa Rica for now. The majority of travelers would have dived into the Nicoya coast, head for Tamarindo (recenly coined ¨Tamagringo¨), and the various touristy surfer spots charging $3 a beer. I figure Costa Rica is lost for now and want to engage in a more authentic traveling experience.
So, yesterday I left Costa Rica in the dust (or mud I should say), crossed the dodgy border into Nicaragua, and have set up shop for a bit in Granada. Granada is a very charming, old Spanish colonial city with red brick roof tops, narrow streets, and beautiful pastel colored cathedrals. Crossing the border was an adventure in itself as there are multiple steps involved, and of course, no directions, signs, or arrows in sight. Fortunately I was able to follow along and make it through with no problem, although it was a bit nerve wracking at times as the military force is very present, and random bag searches and stops were being conducted right there on the street, and with no prior warning. After we crossed into Nicaragua, the military reboarded the bus at a random stop and began taking the back of the bus´interior apart. Of course I was sitting towards the back, so I witnessed the 4 young men work their ratchets and screwdrivers on the various panels and compartments. At one point I wanted to say, ¨Uh amigo, you´re using the wrong size socket¨. No drugs or cotra band was found and we zoomed back onto the InterAmericana highway.
The roads were in horrible condition and we continually slowed to a snail´s pace to navigate around the dining room table sized pot holes. The rains have been non stop for many days now, so dire flooding has influenced the entire region. Completely washed out homes (shacks really) could be seen as we drove along the river valleys. I still cannot understand why these poor people continue to build there homes so close to the rivers´edge. Besides the depressing wreckage from the floods, the ride was nice with breath taking scenery. Nicaragua is primarily a country of farmers, so there were lots of cows, haciendas, and fincas to look at, in addition to the rolling green hills.
I plan on staying here for a few more days and exploring the surrounding areas. I will attempt to make my way into the central highlands to the north, but the roads and weather conditions are the main concern at the present moment...that and finding a cold beer, as it is past 5 o´clock on Sabado! No sign of clear skies as of yet. Cheers to you all from Grenada, Nicaragua. Also, Lake Nicaragua can be seen in the background of the attached picture...pretty neat if you ask me.