5 February 2017
I left Somotillo yesterday nice and early and was really excited to see Nicaragua and I planned on driving to Granada for a couple days of relaxation and kiting on Lake Nicaragua. I’ve read good things about Granada with its brightly colored colonial buildings so I was greatly looking forward to staying there.
The drive through Nicaragua was very pleasant with good roads and plenty of pretty views. I was surprised how flat the country actually is. Besides the occasional bump or two, the land was mostly flat. Also another big surprise was the wind; I mean tons of wind, like almost knock me off my bike kind of wind. While it was a little nerve racking, it did mean better kiteboarding in the near future.
Something else that really dumbfounded me was how I would say more “aggressive” the local drivers are. I don’t mean like they would try to drive you off the road or anything of the such, but apparently they didn’t like me passing them when it wasn’t proper to do so. My experience so far on this trip has been that motorcycles can do pretty much whatever they want to. Well here in Nicaragua it seems like the drivers don’t feel the same way and will honk at you to show their displeasure. Quite a surprise. Also by far, I’ve seen the most police here in Nicaragua. Seems like every couple miles there were police doing radar traps. So speeders beware.
My route took me through the capital, Managua, unfortunately. Nothing against the city but I tend to skip the big cities because they are usually filled with very hot, very frustrating traffic and Managua did not disappoint. I also once again had trouble with Google Maps correctly routing me through the country. I have to say outside of the USA, Google Maps has been very inaccurate. From missing one ways which can be a problem, to totally being flat out wrong on roads and directions, google maps has been a huge disappointment. I find myself using Maps.ME more and more and yesterday was another example of me having to switch to that.
So after a very long drive through the capital city I happily made it to Granada in the early afternoon. Taking a suggestion I found on the iOverlander app, I ended up staying at Hospedaje San Jorge for roughly $15 USD a night. Honestly looking back though, this hotel has been my first disappointment from the app. While it was cheap and the owner was nice, driving through the market really was a pain and walking to the tourist section at night requires you to walk in some very questionable areas which I didn’t like as well.
Not knowing that I wasn’t going to enjoy the city as much as I thought I would and thinking I would get some kiting in I booked two nights and unpacked. Outside the hotel I fought the bellybutton to bellybutton people in the market once again and took my motorcycle out for a spin to see the city. After a nice drive, I ended up stopping at the “tourist strip” for an early dinner and to do some people watching. While the fact that water was more expensive than the beer delighted me, there really wasn’t much going on so I called it a night.
Today, I threw my kitebag on my bike determined to go kiteboarding. I was told that all along the western coast of Lake Nicaragua there was good wind so I found the coast road and started driving away from Granada. The road shortly turned to good gravel and there are tiny little villages every so often but for the most part it was a very quiet deserted drive. After almost an hour of driving trying to find a decent launch unsuccessfully, I settled on a small clear patch of beach to launch from.
To make a long story short, especially for those non-kiters out there, the problem with the western shore is that there just isn’t enough beach space to properly launch from and with the gusty directly onshore wind I ended up having a pretty bad session. So I sadly drove back to my hotel after struggling for a couple hours to find some cheap Tonia’s to help my mood.
Quite honestly, I have found Granada disappointing. Sure the buildings are pretty with the colorful paint but it’s very obvious that this was done to try to make the very poor and rundown housing look more pretty and hence touristy. Also besides the main tourist strip and plaza, there really isn’t much to see in the city for a tourist and I really didn’t like the vibe of the strip. While everyone is looking to make some money, it was much more “in your face” here that I am used to. Everything was tip this and give me money for that, way beyond what I would find acceptable. So I could have easily skipped Granada and really not have cared.
Looking at my next spot here in Nicaragua I’m debating between Bluefields which is on the Caribbean coast or Ometepe which is an island in Lake Nicaragua made up of two volcanoes. Apparently to get to Bluefields, I would have to leave my bike in Rama and then take a boat to Bluefields. I’m not too keen in leaving my bike anywhere right now so I’m thinking Ometepe and then Bluefields on the way north with Melissa. Besides, Ometepe sounds pretty badass. An island made of two volcanoes and kiteboarding?? Fantastic! I guess I’ll see how I feel in the morning.
Best Part: Tona beer by far.
Worst Part: Traffic through the capital.