This morning we were up at the crack of dawn, along with the roosters. We had to get some breakfast before our tour was to pick us up from the hostal. We decided to go back to Los Bocaditos, since it was only about a block from the hostal. When we get there the waitress we had the night before saw us and giggled, as durning dinner last night we had ordered (at least we tried to order) two cokes unopened to take back to our rooms…this hadn´t been communicated well apparently and it wasn´t until after she brought us two opened cokes that she understood what we had wanted. It was apparently a great big joke for all involved that continued into this morning. Anyway, breakfast was good, but we were kind of over the restaurant after that.
We walked back to the hostal and waited for Tierra Tours to pick us up for our tour of Mombacho. They came a bit late and with two guys in the back, which was actually good as it made our rate cheaper. The guys were from the US, and we enjoyed chatting with them about our respective travels and plans. The driver and guide took us to Volcan Mombacho and drove us up the long, steep (STEEP), winding road. We stopped briefly at the bottom to pay the entrance fee to the protected park, then again part way up where there is a fair trade coffee plantation where we enjoyed a free taster of coffee (a bit of a gimmick, but nice nonetheless). Then we finally made it to the top. The ride was pretty exciting in itself, super steep and the driver was going a pretty decent speed. At the top is an ecological centre that has posters and insect specimens, and a model of the volcano. Our guide stopped to show us on the model where we were and where we would be going, as well as some of the history of the volcano.
Then we started to hike. The hike was nice, mostly level dirt pathways, apparently around one of the volcanoes craters. I say apparently because as we reached the top of the volcano the clouds came over and made visibility into the crater almost nil. Bummer. While that was unfortunate, our guide did help us see a salamander curled up inside the leaves of a plant, as well as pointing out some lilies and other flora that grows specifically in this region. We also got to see, and thankfully feel, some fumaroles. For those who don´t know, it´s a hole in the volcano that hot steam comes out of – a welcome thing when it started raining. That´s right, raining. Turns out we were the only ones who brought rain coats, as we had been directed by the tour company the day before. Our comrads got soaked. It made the pace back to the ecological centre a lot quicker, but we tried to make sure we stopped to see everything we wanted to on our way back including a neat canyon area that had a lookout at the end.
We got back to the ecological centre and dried off for a bit. We decided in the midst of all of this, that were we to do it again we would not have done it with a tour group. It´s fairly easy, and way cheaper to catch a bus from Granada to the base of Mombacho and then the truck that goes up the volcano every hour or so. The pathways were clearly marked and well maintained, so we likely should have just done it on our own. Lesson learned. Anyway, the tour truck came back and picked us up and hauled our soaking bodies back to Granada where the rain had just finished pouring.
Once back in Granada, we paid for the tour and then quickly went back to the cultural centre to pick up and pay for the art work I wanted. Afterward, we made a point of going to the other end of town to see the Fortress and a couple more churches. Sadly, the fortress which is from Spanish colonial times, was not open to visitors as the book said it would be. Apparently it hasn´t been for a while, but we took pictures from the outside. Then we took pictures at a couple other churches, including one (the name of which we can´t currently remember) that had a creepy park across the street with a barbed wire fence…it kinda looked like it should have been a cemetary, but it wasn´t. Anyway, we sat next to the barbed wire fence for a while enjoying watching the people. This is clearly the less touristy part of town. One of our favourite things to watch here is how they ride doubles on bike all the time, I tried to get a shot of one couple but my camera didn´t catch it.
After a sufficient amount of people watching and photo taking, we made our way back toward our hostal, on the way passing Iglesia de la Merced, this time around discovering that it was open. We paid our $1 each and made our way up the very steep and narrow spiral staircase up, up, up to the bell tower. What a view. The book didn´t lie when it said you could see out to the lake and over all of Granada. We took a ton of photos between the two of us. It was neat to look out over all the spanish flavoured ceramic tiled roofs. And the view toward the big cathedral and out toward the lage de Nicaragua was incredible. We were up there for a while, and once we felt we had captured every possible angle, we decided to head back down. It was at this point that Ryan checked his watch and I was thankful that the fortress had been closed…you see, we had made a deal that if there was time left we would go get massages at the end of the day. Had the fortress been open, we would have spent at least an hour there and the Cocoa Berry Spa would have been closed – luckily the fortress was closed and it left us just enough time to hop across the street from la Merced and enjoy the BEST MASSAGES EVER. Ever. If you are ever in Granada, Cocoa Berry Spa, for real, go. We enjoyed a couples massage for $26 each, and it was worth every centavo.
After we were finished with bliss, we walked back to the hostal to get some of the oil off before finding dinner. We made our allotted 10 minutes calls to our respective families (hi mom, hi dad!) and then walked toward the park for dinner at Nuestros Mundo. The food was good, the service was slow, but they did apologize for that. The one thing about eating in Granada is that you don´t really get to eat in peace – there is always a stray animal with so sad eyes or a person selling you a hammock or pottery or those annoying animal shaped whistles. After supper we made a fairly quick return to our hostal to use the internet one more time (the last time for a week) and to pack our things to head out in the morning. So long Granada!