Parade in Granada
Dominica sent me out for donuts from the bakery around the corner. I could not go straight there because we were out of cash so I needed to go to the ATM downtown first. I ended up getting down to the bank right as the police were closing off the streets for the big parade to come through there. The same parade that had been going since at least six this morning.
It was a huge parade. It just went on and on, quite surprising for this small city. From what I could gather this was another Sandinista political celebration. About half of everyone attending was wearing the 2015 Sandinista t-shirts and tons of people were carrying the FSLN (Sandinista) flags and many others had the Nicaraguan flag. There were trucks with speakers, people dancing, marching bands (including the one that plays in front of our house all of the time), banner carriers and all sorts of things. It was quite a party and massive numbers of people marching down the sidewalks with the main body of the parade.
The parade went on and on, I never saw the end of it. I marched along with it for a while because it was between me and both the house and the bakery. So I had little choice. But it was a fun parade and I joined in. I managed to take some video as well, even though my phone was nearly dead.
The parade ended up going into the afternoon. It probably lasted for eight hours at least. From what we could tell, they were making laps of the city.
Driving Travel Times in Nicaragua
Don't be fooled by the small size of the country of Nicaragua, just because there are not very many kilometers between the places that you want to go chances are it is going to take you rather a long time to get there. I have heard the British give similar warnings around traveling around the UK: but you will need to multiply that effect here in Nica.
There are several issues that contribute to this. First the speeds on the highways are slow, very slow. The fastest highway that I have found in the country never goes about eighty kilometers per hour. That is just fifty miles per hour for the Americans and by contrast Spain's highways are generally one hundred and forty kilometers per hour - nearly double the top end speed. And unlike in the US or in Europe, the top speed of the highway is rarely what you get to do.
In Nicaragua the highway just goes through towns and cities with continuous foot traffic on the sides of the road, never an extra lane beyond the two (two total, one in each direction) and never a shoulder to speak of. The official speed drops from eight to forty regularly, often the top speed is fifty or sixty and during school periods the speed in an incredibly number of places, including all along the length of the PanAmerican which is the biggest highway in the country, drops to just twenty five!
There is traffic everywhere in the country, often in the form of slow moving trucks, pickups full of hitchhikers, scooters that struggle to get up to speed even going down hill and then there are pedestrians, bicyclists and, of course, horse drawn carts everywhere. And that is not the worst of the traffic issues. It is incredibly common for the road to be full of cattle, chickens or other animals. You never know what you are going to find.
Driving here is a continuous adventure and you need to think about how slowly you will be creeping down the highway when you begin to calculate out your plans. That city might be only one hundred kilometers away, but it is going to be three hours before you have any hopes of getting there.
Desayuno Typico de Nicaragua - The Typical Nicaraguan Breakfast
Nicaragua is one of those places where the "typical breakfast" is more than just something commonly associated with the country - it truly is what just everyone eats for breakfast. Every hotel, every restaurant advertising breakfast all serve the same thing. Sometimes there is something extra, but this standard breakfast bundle will always be found:
- Eggs, likely scrambled (revueltos.)
- Gallo pinto (beans and rice Nica style)
- Fried plantains.
- White local cheese (queso blanco - very savory and salty cheese.)
- Hung of bread
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And We Have a New Cat
The cat ended up living with us for two full days. One day we fend it tuna fish. The next day we ended up breaking down and buying real cat food assuming that he might be around for a while.
But after getting some real cat foot in his system and a good night's sleep he appears to have decided to go back and look for his family. No sign of him today.
Central American Ketchup
Americans traveling abroad, if they do not work hard to isolate themselves by finding and only using imported American market products, will almost always find that there are local variations on the food that we are used to. One that I always notice is ketchup (or catsup.) In the US it is almost always very uniform, bland and full of high fructose corn syrup.
Outside of the US the ingredients, even in the cheap ketchup, tend to be far better and no corn syrup. You get fewer calories and much better taste and real, honest to goodness sugar.
One of the many "how the rest of the world eats better than Americans" discoveries that you are likely to make when traveling.
Christmas in Granada
So it is not even mid-November yet and the shops are decorated for Christmas, the Parque Central has all of the light poles trimmed in red and green lights and our next door neighbours have a full Christmas tree set up, decorated and lit in their living room. Christmas seems to come early here in Granada. It is hot and feels like the height of summer but with El Dia de Muertes past us and no Thanksgiving like we have in the USA to act as a barrier Christmas is the next big holiday and people are already ready for it.
Christmas in Granada
I read in a guidebook that the Christmas festivities start early here. Celebrated on December 7th in Leon and December 8th in the rest of the country, La Griteria Immaculate or the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is a Roman Catholic holiday. We celebrated it growing up with a special Mass and dinner at my grandparent's house. Here in Nicaragua where the majority of the population is Roman Catholic, these feast days become big celebrations.
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