Sunday, February 23, 2014

Saturday, February 22nd, Managua to Granada, Nicaragua


At the end of our first day in Nicaragua, we're in our travel mode.  The flight was long.  Since when did they start charging for inflight entertainment?  I've got to remember not to pack the extra battery life for the IPod Touches in the suitcase.  Last night's hotel bed was too hard, and the air conditioner was too loud.  

But this morning started off a great day of our tour of Nicaragua.  Fourteen Canadians, and one other American, joined us for breakfast by the pool at the Hotel Seminole.  Our tour guide, Laura Rudderforth, provided us with the day's itinerary and an upbeat can-do attitude.

A controversial church, several volcanos and calderas, a lakeside commercial district,  and lots of Sandinista tributes and political discussions later, we've arrived in Granada for our first of a three-night stay.

Our tour mates are wonderful, as is our experience with most Canadian travelers, and our local guide (Enrique) and driver (Alfonzo) are excellent.

As we listened to Enrique reveal the history of Nicaragua, and heard the more recent history through the experiences of a child of the revolution, we become even more aware of the impact of U.S. foreign policies.

I am taken aback during a discussion at the Sandinista Museum of the time when, as a young airman in Florida, I met the President of Nicaragua (Anastasio Somoza Debayle).  He had come to the airbase I was stationed at, and was allowed to co-pilot one of the Air Force's newest jets from there to Nicaragua and back.  As head of the Command's First-term Airman's Council, I was one of the guests at a dinner in his honor.  It was somewhat strange to recall that meeting, after hearing of the destruction caused by him from our guide.

Later, as we drove through the streets of Managua, we saw hundreds of Sandinista supporters celebrating the 80th anniversary of the campaign that Augusto Cesar Sandino led.

One of the most interesting developments in Nicaragua is the possibility that a contract signed recently with a Chinese billionaire will result in a new canal allowing ship traffic to travel from the Atlantic to the Pacific.  Research is proceeding to determine the most cost-effective and environmentally-appropriate route, and debate continues on whether Nicaragua has over-reached in this mind-boggling undertaking.

This is the National bird, which we saw on the drive up to the Masaya Volcano National Park.  It looks a little like a Quetzal, which we saw in Costa Rica many years ago.  I hope to get better at using a new telephoto lens that I bought for our Africa trip ager this year.  I know I'm going to have to have the camera cleaned up before we go, as I've noticed a pesky hair inside the lens apparatus which I constantly have to clean up with the editing features of IPhoto.

I'm impressed with the newest Google photo improvement features, as they significantly sharpen the photo, and add crisp color.

The Masaya Volcano National Park comprises an area of 54 km² and includes two volcanoes and five craters. The volcanoes have erupted several times in history, and were feared by both the indigenous people and the Spanish conquerors. The Spanish baptized the active volcano "La Boca del Infierno" or "The Mouth of Hell". They planted a cross, "La Cruz de Bobadilla" (named after Father Francisco Bobadilla), on the crater lip in the 16th century in order to exorcise the Devil.

Tonight, we walked the streets of Granada after dinner.  The city is hosting the Festival Internacional de Poesia de Granada, and the plaza was filled with music and excitement.

To see the rest of the photos taken today, click on Saturday, February 22nd, Managua to Granada

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