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Masaya

March 17, 2012

The Masaya Volcano is one of only two active volcanoes in the world where you can drive up to the rim. It is located just outside the town of Masaya which is about half way in-between Granada where I live and Managua, the capital of Nicaragua and where the international airport is located. It took about 20 minutes to drive to Masaya (the town) from Granada.

I visited there last week after I finished my Spanish lesson with Flavia, who is a new instructor for me, and is a history teacher at a secondary school in Masaya. We walked to the express bus stop, a dirt lot about 3 blocks from my apartment. I was glad she was with me as I had no idea what bus to get on. Apparently it is the one that is in the front, next to the little building, and the one with all the other people on it.  I did not see any sign but maybe it was on the front of the bus, we went in the back door and sat together.  Once the bus filled up, it left and the conductor collected our fares. I paid 10 cordobas, which is half of the normal 20 cordoba fare of almost $1usd.  So it cost me 50 cents to get to Masaya, which was good because once I got there I had to take a taxi to the hotel which cost me another 50 cents!

It is great to use the bus system here in Nicaragua as it is inexpensive. The down side is the buses are extremely crowded-always, and I had no clue where to exit. The driver does not call out the stops or even the town, so you have to know what you are doing. Flavia told me where to get out and once I was on the sidewalk I had no idea which way

to walk or what to do. How I forgot to ask about that I don’t know.

It was hot and my bags were heavy so I stepped up to the next taxi, stopped at the stop sign and asked (in Spanish) how much it cost to take me to Hotel Ivanias. I had memorized what to say –Flavia coached me on that. He replied but I had no idea what he said, so I said “diez?” and he nodded so I got in. We had agreed on ten cordobas to get me to the hotel. There was another woman in the car and he took her to her destination first so it seemed like a long time and I was wondering if he understood me, but he did and dropped me at the hotel. When I walked into my friends, Judy and Kay, had just arrived from the beach city of San Juan del Sur,Nicaragua and were checking in.

Hotel Ivanias is supposed to be the best hotel in Masaya. We would call it a bit above basic. After settling in our room which did have air conditioning, an expensive option here in Nicaragua, we walked about 5 blocks to a Mexican restaurant.  We sat on a flower-decked balcony and ate lunch watching the pedestrians, horse and carriages and other traffic. We returned to the hotel and that evening went to the folkloric dances at the Mercado Viejo –the old market. They have this presentation every Thursday evening and since it was the International Day of Women we got in free. The costumes are beautiful and the dances are intricate and involve couples twirling in and out in patterns.  My camera no longer zooms so I was not able to really capture how good they were.

The next day we went to see Vocan Masaya, the active volcano.  You can drive up to the rim but you have to park facing out away from it incase you have to make a quick escape.  It was smoking and you could really smell the sulfur and see the ash, but no fire or lava. Still it was really cool to see and we walked to a lookout where you could see for miles and which overlooked some of the other dormant volcanoes nearby.
Our driver, Francisco, then took us to Catalina which is the town that overlooks Lago Apoyo and we ate lunch overlooking this beautiful lake nestled in an extinct volcano. Then it was on to the search for a child’s rocking chair for Judy. We stopped along the road at many different furniture makers-this area is known for wood furniture-and finally found one that we could buy disassembled. Judy bought it for a great price and Kay bought two small folding tables for a patio.That evening we watched a parade that featured Jesus on the cross being carried through the streets with many people following, and a small band playing mournful music. There was a woman on a

loud-speaker possibly praying, we are not sure. Every so often they stopped and she talked and then they all moved on. This goes on every Friday until Easter. We walked to the main part of town and had a great dinner outside across from the park at Café du Park.  More shopping at Mercado Viejo and we took a taxi to the hotel. I negotiated ten cordobas but I forgot that meant each, not total. So I gave the driver my ten cordobas and got out and he raises his voice saying something which I finally figured out to mean, the other two ladies owe me ten cordobas each! Oops.

Saturday we had Francisco drive us to Granada and deposit Judy and Kay at the lovely and huge Casa Gallo and me at my apartamento. Another adventure completed successfully.

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