Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Granada tour -- dazzling..

When I went to Philadelphia last summer, I was so impressed with all of the historic architecture.  I comforted myself that in the west we have the beauties of the natural world: the mountains and canyons, but I was still a little jealous we didn't have the history that Pennsylvania enjoys. Now, having seen Granada, it's hard to even remember all of the things I loved in Philadelphia. We're talking 16th century here!
Our guide took us on Saturday around the city, and told us the history as he showed us the city he loves. Rodolfo grew up here, lives here now, and his pride came through clearly.  This first picture is of the Iglesia La Merced, and was built in 1532. It was one of the most important churches in Granada until the tower burned in the mid 1800's. It was rebuilt later.
So many beautiful architectural pieces. I'm making my pictures small and clumping them together so you can get the "drinking from a fire hose" effect I did in seeing detail after detail. Wrought iron, carved wood, colorful paint (they aren't afraid of color here! Our hotel room was pink with yellow curtains and bed covers!).

 You can see that even the sidewalks are tiled. Notice all of the moldings around doors and windows.


 You can see too, how houses and other buildings are all connected down a city block. One of the reasons people paint their house front a bright color, is to contrast it from the houses on either side of it. No side gardens here!

Lots of horse and carriages around Granada. Most of them are painted blue, with ads on the back for "Moviestar" a cell phone service. Two major carriers here. Moviestar and Claro. Many people have both because it's cheaper to call your friends if they have the same service.


We started walking towards a more run down part of the city. Still, the houses had a charming patina with their worn paint, etc. I probably wouldn't think it was as charming if the roof leaked on me I suppose....

Our guide wanted to show us the common market --what he called "the real Granada". The picture above is the entrance to the building --just gorgeous, but very old. The roof inside was corrugated iron, and had lots of cracks and holes.

This was a little hard for my kids to see. There was a section for meat and fish sales, shown above, now empty since it was later in the day, but the smell and flies remained. There were also all of the normal comestibles (rice, beans etc.),

Flowers that were amazing (even if they were sold next to the stalls selling recycled jugs and cardboard), a colorful greengrocers, and there were clothing stalls which looked just like San Diego's swap meet --cheap dresses from China, garish earrings, etc.

Walking out, we ran into an older teenager staggering back and forth sniffing glue with a pipe like contraption stuck in a baby food jar. The back of his black T-shirt read "it may seem like craziness to you, but for us it is salvation" (but in Spanish). I think on the front was the ad for some church or religion, and the irony wasn't lost on me. We later saw another lost boy in the square, very high, although not sniffing at the time. I told Tia-- "now you know zombies do exist". "That's not comforting Mom!" she said. I was really disturbed for the rest of the night, and that's why I tried to make a joke. I think the prospect of losing mental capacity is one of the most frightening things I've considered. It's not just the idea of addiction, or children suffering (although that's not a negligible part), it's the idea of losing your mind.

After this, our guide mercifully brought us back towards the main square, and the lovely mansions,

 --owned by the richest man in Nicaragua...

 The oldest house in Granada --above, with its plaque.


 The municipal building -left, and the rectory, the Claro executive's home, and some other mansion, in a row on their way down to the waterside.

 Now, the jewel of the square. San Francisco, or the Cathedral of Granada. 


The main nave is impressive, with its clean lines, marble, and arches.

 The floor is this lovely antique printed tile.

 Right in the middle is what looks like the ark of the covenant (I really should link to the Bible instead of a movie hehe!).
 Love the blue next to the gold and white -- as if you were looking into the heavens.
The nave where communion is given.

 Back in the square, the brightly colored pots, and painted tree trunks were cheery after the somber beauty of the cathedral.

 A mariachi band (maybe that's not what they are called here?) serenaded a tableful of diners.

 Monument to motherhood --total abnegation? That's not really me...

Close up of the rectory and the Claro mansion.

The local art college building front.

 One last cathedral -- the Iglesia of Guadalupe, used as a fort by William Walker (an American villain who came in and conquered Nicaragua in the early 19th century). What kind of jerk uses a church as a fort?

The interior was much simpler, and more primitive than San Fransisco, but lovely all the same. The ceiling was made of cana (imagine a tilde --can't find it) de castillo which is similar to bamboo. Very traditional around here.

The walls were made of adobe bricks (I made the kids repeat "adoooobeee" like in Peewee Herman and then had a really hard time explain that to our guide). They exposed a section for us to see on the left. On the right they have an excavated grave ( many people were killed fighting when Walker was in here), and they buried them under the floor. 

 From the top of the steps you could look out over the many tiled roofs of the city to the Masaya volcano. I really loved the tiled roofs.

 Notice too, that they overhang by quite a bit, so the sun will never shine directly in the window, keeping the homes cool. They didn't all have this, but many did -even our LDS church building. 
We headed back towards the square again on our way to the Calle Calzado where all of the restaurants are (patio seating for all of them --no cars down here, just walking), and saw that the Panamerica tour was passing through. I'm going to make this photo large so you can see it.  A group of vintage cars make their way from the top of North America to the bottom of South America. I got a few shots of these guys. I heard about them when I was here in Costa Rica in grad school, but only saw a couple cars pass us in the jungle.

Isn't that cool?

After a long day of walking, and hiking around another volcano (tell you about that tomorrow --there's bats!), we gratefully sat down for a great dinner of Paella for Tia, Jeff and I, and octopus in garlic sauce for Ari and Kai. We slept


belann said...

What a wonderful tour. Probably as close as I'll get to being there. Thanks.

Terry Earley said...

Nice. Not sure whether I would choose the paella or the octopus in garlic.

What a beautiful city.

CowanTravels said...

Beautiful! Another great day!

Meeshab said...

Yum! Ok, the teenager sniffing is really disturbing. Yucky yucky! Beautiful beautiful buildings

Meeshab said...

Yum! Ok, the teenager sniffing is really disturbing. Yucky yucky! Beautiful beautiful buildings