Granada – Home Potential Indicator Part 1

You may not read this until I am dead and dust, the Internet
is so frustratingly slow. If I were sitting any closer to the Internet
, they would need to give me a colonoscopy to reset it. So it goes and
some of the reasons that Nicaragua has fallen from grace as a potential place
to live. Honestly, there is more to life than Internet speed, so here is a
recap of our time in Granada.

It was spectacular! Recap concluded.
That was cheating right? Well here are some of the
highlights. One way I approached each city we went to was to think in terms of
what services specifically for ex-pats was lacking that the locals could also
benefit from. One idea I had in Panama was to open a waffle restaurant, just a
small one to fill a need for those North Americans needing a fix. Kathy’s
Waffle House is a booming business in Granada. We ate there two different
mornings, being thoroughly satisfied with the offerings. I did photograph the
menu for future reference, perhaps for somewhere else. We also had breakfast at
the Chocolate Museum where they offer an all you can eat breakfast for $6. They
are smart in that they serve omelettes, pancakes and waffles. You choose the
ingredients for each; however, the pancakes and waffles have the fruit or
chocolate on top, not in the batter. They also only serve one at a time,
reducing waste. Their omelettes were exceptional. Why Kathy’s is so busy when
this place is a better bargain is a mystery. Other mornings, we ate our own
cooking prepared at the guesthouse. Gerry always has fresh coffee ready each
morning for guest consumption. These two places nixed my idea for any type of
small eatery. 
There are relatively few museums in the city, but we went to
them all: all three of them. Some had unusual mixes of modern art with
artifacts from centuries ago. Nevertheless, the architecture of the interiors
were worthy of the visit and the admission of $1-$2 could not be beat. Churches
fit into the museum category, as this is an ultra-Catholic country, there are
plenty of them to visit. The most famous is Convento y Museo San Francisco, the
oldest church in Central America. Another church worthy of a visit was Iglesia
de La Merced. So what is a nice atheist boy doing visiting churches? This is where
the treasures of a culture are stored. People will give all they have to get
God’s indulgences, so the churches prey on this mentality and adorn the church
for the glory of God. Some of the best artwork you find in primitive countries
is in their churches. If we were to live here, what would we do with ourselves.
That question was answered later through observations. 
We continually encountered groups of men, who without too
much eavesdropping were obviously ex-pats who had settled here. Some of the
faces changed from day to day, while others were repeaters. They seemed aimless
and from their conversations, if they did not meet with others here or there at
some watering hole, they had no life whatsoever. Interestingly, we encountered
only male groups. Were the women folk occupied with real activities or did they
die from boredom early on in the move here?
Culturally, there is little to be engaged in. The movie
theater still has posters from the first Harry Potter movie, yet we never saw
the doors unchained. There are no theaters for plays, no stadiums for concerts
or sports (not that I am complaining, but just saying). What the locals do is ‘hang
out’. As cliché as it sounds, there are an abundance of rocking chairs in this
country. Most of them are wooden framed with caned backs and seats. The
workmanship of each rocking chair is impeccable and having had to do caning for
a Boy Scouts merit badge, I can attest to the rigorous nature of caning. Children
start rocking from early years, almost before they are off the nipple, rocking
themselves in little chairs in that hypnotic embryotic contentment motion. This
is how they spend their free time. You walk around the city any time of the day
or night, especially in the night if the house is still warm; people are decked
out in front of their abode rocking away. If they could be wired, they could be
generating massive amounts of electricity, making the movements productive. This
is the national pastime.
What we did for entertainment was desperate, but enjoyable
in the end and fit our social work mentalities. A gentleman from Venezuela who
had moved here over 30 years ago, opened the Escuela de Comedie and Mime: The
school of comedy and mime. He wanted to do something for the children of the
city. They generally never complete school beyond the 6th grade.
Education is free, but they have to buy their own supplies, books, and pay for transportation
if there is no school in their district. There are also a number of children,
who are orphans for various reasons, so become street beggars. This man wanted
to change their fate. 
Through his school, children come to learn drama, clowning, and
mime to provide performances for the public. This in turn enhances their
self-esteem. Over the years, Mr. Venezuela was able to fund a home to house
these children, get them medical care and now they have a school. He has had
multitudes of ‘graduates’ who now have fulfilling careers after receiving an
education, and are contributors back to the organization for the next
One of the nights we were there, the school has a puppetry
performance. A puppeteer from Mexico had come to the city to perform as a
charity benefit for this school. There was no admission, but they passed the
hat at the end. Through a variety of puppets of varying sizes, the entertainer
told stories. Although they were all in Spanish and beyond our comprehension at
the speed of his telling, we still enjoyed the evening.
The next night was another performance, this time by the
students of the school. A North American director from Los Angeles came to
Granada and volunteered to direct a play. It was a mix of the stories about the
Goose That Laid the Golden Egg and Jack and the Beanstalk. There was no
dialogue spoken. Intermittently, there was story line projected onto the wall,
which was perfect for us to be able to read. These children from 4 to 19 years
old, performed amazing feats of juggling, gymnastics, and unicycle riding. We
left there feeling like we were walking on air, the feelings it left us with
were so incredible. I hope that we will be able to aid the founder with finding
some funding sources to continue his work. If we lived here, this is where I
would direct my energy. He did share his observation that in his 30 years, he
has found that Nicaraguans are not into culture, so he has difficult getting
them engaged in the productions they produce.
Prior to attending this show, we went to an opening of an
art exposition. One of the women staying at our bed and breakfast is an artist
from Germany. There is some sister city connection between her home city and
Granada. Six German artists came to Granada with their art pieces for a joint exhibition
with their Granada counterparts. We had chatted a few times over morning
coffee, so we felt some pressure to see what this was about. Besides, the Casa
de Los Tres Mundos Building was the hosting location, a cultural center that
normally charges admission. For the art opening, there were no fees. Most of it
was modern art – ultra modern. This is not my cup of tea, but we went, we saw,
we explored the inside of Casa de Los Tres Mundos.  
Other highlights coming are the islet tour and the day at
the volcano crater lake.
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