Tapir Travels #6: Colonial Charm

March 14 – Colonial Charm
I am staying at a backpackers place for the first time during my trip. Here I’ve met a couple of Swedish guys that I could talk to. It felt a bit strange to speak my own language after almost two months of only English and Spanish. Granada, where I’m staying, is an old colonial town with buildings dating back to the conquistadors. The architecture is much like what you can find in Europe, but somewhat unique for Nicaragua. It is a nice town just to walk around in and check out the everyday life on the streets.

People bring all sorts of things on the buses here in Central America. I have seen sacks of beans, bananas, animals, buckets with fish (he was actually selling some of them ON the bus), and even animals. When I went from Rivas to Granada and stepped on the bus, I heard an ‘oink’ coming from a pig tied to a seat in the back of the bus. Someone even asked me if it was mine…

Before a bus is about to depart, there a usually a multitude of vendors getting on the bus trying to sell things to the passengers. They are selling coke in plastic bags, ice cream, dried banana snacks and sometimes food as well. They enter the bus and people buy, which can make it quite crowded from time to time, as they are taking up the aisles. In the back there is usually one person helping out with people’s luggage, and he’s shouting to make sure everyone is on. If you want to get off, you can whistle or shout ‘parada’ to let the driver know.

Religion is even more present here than in Costa Rica, which doesn’t necessarily affect the way people live concerning alcohol and women. However, you can usually read things like ‘Dios es amor’ or ‘Jehova es mi pastor’ printed on the buses. (God is love, Jehova is my shepherd). Many times you hear evangelical preachers reading the bible and playing the guitar in the markets or on the streets.

March 17 – The Miskito Coast
I’m now travelling together with a guy from Switzerland, and we went to the Caribbean coast today. As we left the dry and dusty Pacific side behind us, the surroundings changed into rolling hills with sugar cane growing along the road. We stopped one night in Juigalpa, and continued the following morning to Rama where the road ends. From there you have to take a ferry or a ‘panga’ (speedboat) along the river until Bluefields.

The river goes through a dense jungle area called ‘the Miskito coast’, which stretches from here all the way up to Honduras. The name comes from the indians still living there. It felt very much like coming to another, completely different, country as we stepped off the boat. Bluefields is similar to Puerto Lim�n in Costa Rica – it’s a mix of blacks, mestizos, and several indigenous groups such as Miskitos, Sumos and Ramas.

To be honest it’s not my favorite place on earth, since it’s quite rough and ugly. There is a lot of crack, the poor man’s drug, in circulation there which affects the whole atmosphere. We were constantly harassed by drug addicts that wanted to become our ‘friends’ and then asked for money ‘to buy new shoes to my kids’. It really got on my nerves after awhile.

The town has a very active night life, and from Thursday through Sunday the discos are packed with people dancing to Reggae music. Some places are so full of people that it’s impossible to squeeze in, and so they are sitting outside drinking instead. It struck me when we were walking around on Monday evening how many people that are out on the streets. Children running around, old men playing domino and housewives chatting with each other.

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