Friday, 6 July 2012

Nicaragua: A taste. (Of chocolate)

I have a funfact about the Bay Islands: THE Blackbeard, terror of the seven seas and one of the richest and craftiest pirates in the world used to come to shore at the Honduran islands. It was here where he found the privacy to hide his treasures, and the mad men to accompany him on his voyages.

Coming from Utila, we had to stop at Tegucigalpa (or Honduras City) after an eight hour bus ride, simply because nothing was heading straight to Nicaragua.

It was the shadiest neighbourhood, and a taxi brought us from the busstation where we got dropped off, to the busstation we would be picked up from the next morning. We weren't planning on doing much walking, but at the station they weren't very helpful when we asked for a hotel in the neighbourhood. And when we stumbled onto the first hotel sign we saw, it was the lousiest hotel we had stayed in so far. Just to keep off the streets, which oozed a dangerous atmosphere, did we agree to stay in the roach-swamped buggy place. Everywhere we could see, they had iron doors and padlocks, even shut tight by day, only opened to allow the entrance or exit of a potential customer. And if it wasn't padlocked by day, it got so by night. Not a very hopeful sight.

The next morning, we had to get to the station before the sun came up: we genuinely considered asking for a taxi to take us instead of walking those five minutes. Once at the station, though, we were relieved. Just 8 or 9 hours more, and we would be in Granada, Nicaragua....

... or so we thought.

Fourteen complete hours later, and half a dozen of stops, with a bus driver that seemed to be taking "speed limits" too literally, we arrived in Granada: the bus stop in the outskirts of town. (Aka: middle of nowhere).
These streets were filled with people who had an entirely different aura about them: something relaxed and welcoming.

We scouted for a hostel from our Lonely Planet list: the first one we tried had space, so the Bearded Monkey it was. We went for a short walk to pin some money, explored the square: Parque Central, and walked into the Euro Cafe, deciding almost immediately that we should have some kind of food there.

In the morning, we explored some more. We had the most varying and fulfilling breakfast we'd had since Cuba. I went on a serious quest for a flag: up till now, I had managed to buy one for dad from every country. Granada, though, seemed not to be very helpful. No one had flags, and if they did, they were as big as a towel. It was only in a small shop in which I expected an apologetic shake of the head that they brightly told me I was in luck, they had one left!

That done, we signed up for a Chocolate Workshop close to our hostel. Best thing we did :)
We learned about the cocoa plant, the different types of them, the pods, and the entire process, from the fermentation and drying all the way to the moulding of said chocolate. From step three, roasting, it got interactive: we were given a ceramic pot full of cocoa beans to roast, then peel, and grind into a paste.

Then, we learned about the chocolate drinks made and drank by the Mayans, the Aztecs, and finally the Spanish. The entire workshop I was reminded again and again of the movie: Chocolat. Not a bad thing, seeing as one of my favourite actors stars in said movie. After making the drinks, we got a bowl of chocolate paste, in which we could "dump" ingredients to our liking. I chose chili and cashews. That we spooned into a mould, which went into the fridge. After receiving a certification, we were told to pick up our bar of chocolate in the morning.

Anouk and I had dinner with a Danish girl named Maya, who didn't feel like going out to dinner by herself. We ended up going to a Chinese restaurant, a very happy choice.
We played the This or That? Game, in which I ended up having to make up all the choices for the two of them to answer.

The next morning it was repacking, breakfast, picking up our bar of chocolate, and then waiting for the time to go to the bus station. Around 14.00, was the plan, because the bus was planned to leave at 14.30.....

....or so we thought.

We had wifi. We had yahtzee. And books. And our chocolate. If we hadn't, we would've probably been quite unhappy.
But even with all that, the five hours we waited felt like ages more. We were gleeful when we could finally claim our seats in the bus.

The bus ride to Liberia in Costa Rica shouldn't take more than six hours. But we'll see. We've learned to expect very little in the last few days. Fingers crossed.

Ps: faster than expected. We got dropped off in Liberia at 23.00 exactamente :)

The Gypsy

1 comment:

  1. spannende verhalen !! ik zal eens in de atlas kijken of ik kan vinden waar je zit...
    Have still lot of fun these last weeks! and we'll see you soon after coming home (i hope :))
    kisses Ineke en Hans