We’re riding a local bus from Managua, Nicaragua to a colonial city called Granada. We pass horse-drawn carts, a forested mountain whose slopes hide a volcano.
Windswept Lake Nicaragua appears: sky-reaching church steeples, circa 1524, pastel-painted buildings with red tile roofs, snugged down on its shore.
We’re immediately smitten and we’re hardly alone.
A regular regiment of pillaging visitors have crossed that nearby waterway (Central America’s biggest lake) to make Granada a waypoint over the years, visitors like Henry Morgan.
We’re only the most recent. Our assault commences at Central Park.
Kiosks in each corner sell a local dish called vigaron. A line of mansions boasting Moorish and Spanish colonial architecture faces the park and stands sentinel beside the Cathedral of Granada. Two other colonial churches dominate the streetscape as well. One is situated on Calle la Libertad, a tiled promenade of shops, galleries, bars and restaurants, falling gently down from the cathedral, descending to the lake whose waves lash the shore as enthusiastically as any ocean.
Along one edge of the park a procession of horse-drawn white caleches awaits tourists who want to see this timeless city at the appropriate speed.
We choose to walk. We sample local beer outside a Baroque mansion, climb a church tower, stroll to the lake and visit local museums and art galleries.
Huffington Post once described Granada as “the Paris of Central America” so I suspect other invaders will follow.
I also suspect that our first invasion of Granada won’t be our last.
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