It was decided to get underway before breakfast. Starving but eager, lured on by the promise of food in Granada, Vince, Helen and Wayne bolted out of the hotel parking lot into the traffic. David, possibly even hungrier, charged after them in the van, running over a motorcyclist in the process.
We negotiated a settlement with the motorcyclist (initially uninjured, who during negotiations began pointing at possibly interesting parts of his leg), and followed the riders.
Granada: the oldest city in Central America, founded by the Spanish in 1524. The graveyard alone is astounding. Joy stricken angels, Christs suffering, golden lions, Grecian temples, leaping and soaring and pouncing and frozen, moon-white in the tropical sun.
We waited for the riders just over the bridge by the cemetery, and Jan wandered over to the guard (There are guards everywhere. Laundromats, banks, car parks at the better fried chicken joints, and grocery stores, for example, have guards.) After trying unsuccessfully to determine what the guard was guarding (it could have been the cemetery, or the fountain he was standing by just outside, or the tipped-over wooden cart full of trash on the pavement by the fountain), Jan worked up enough Spanish to ask who had the best coffee around here. The guard promptly pointed to what was probably his mother’s stall, and Jan strolled around the cart to the stall and ordered a coffee.
Now what’s interesting about coffee in Nicaragua is that they make some of the finest in the world, bar none. The guard’s mom, however, along with most of the restaurants that you buy coffee in, prefers instant coffee, with artificial creamer. After strict warnings about not walking off with her cup, she made him a reasonably priced coffee, and then reappeared by the side of the stall to show him the carefully stacked chairs that he could use, within clear sight of herself and her son, and enjoy her coffee.
The riders, ravenous by now, flashed by between sips, piled into the truck, and demanded the group race off in search of breakfast. Meanwhile, Jan returned the cup to the guard’s mom, who accepted it graciously while keeping a keen eye on the chair, and crossed the bridge. The van he was not in was just pulling away in a cloud of smoke.
Jan, meanwhile, had to decide between hanging around the cemetery, and hiking off in pursuit. David (Motorcyle Mangler and Nicaraguan Director of TheLendingJourney) had mentioned that the restaurant he was aiming for was in the square. “Just down there and a wave to the right”. These, from David, were crystal clear directions, and Jan decided to pursue.
Granada is a large town. We had stopped at the edge of town, and in the 16th century, you built your city around the square. The square was where people met, held council, celebrated weddings, hanged thieves, and played chess. The city didn’t exist until the square was established. From it, human society was formed, and empires planned. Unfortunately, that meant that Jan had a long way to go, since squares are in the center of town, and he was on the edge.
Estella, an English speaker, guides and guards Jan as she leads him to the square. In one of God’s more obvious miracles, she not only is the first English speaker in a dozen that Jan has tried, but is also going in pretty much the same direction. Her three children are in Toronto, but she has recently been deported after having lived in Canada for seven years. Her kids are old enough to take of themselves, and hopefully can sponsor Stella and her mother back to Toronto. “Here, I am free,” she says with a smile, “But there is no money.”
She also tells him matter-of-factly that this stretch of the city is particularly dangerous. Hide any electronic devices, and split your money up into two or three places, so that you can give the thief all that’s in one pocket without losing everything you have.
… to be continued