Jan 13

Day 38 – Granada, Nicaragua

by in Field Reports

The plan was to unwind for a few days in Granada. We’ve been pushing hard for a while and our tummies have been having trouble recently so it seemed to make sense to set up base somewhere and relax and recover. The Rough Guide made Granada seem like a good spot to do that, and our initial impressions of the town agreed. The buildings are pretty and there are plenty of amenities for tourists here, as we seem to be the reason the town has been restored in the first place. It was a bit of a challenge to find a hotel with parking for the bikes, and we paid a bit more than we normally would for the room when we did find one, but we’ve deemed a bit of R&R worth the cost.

The initial room at Hotel De La Sol was lovely. It was on the second floor and had large windows (two of them) that opened to let in the breeze. It got great light, was quiet at night, and the bed was super comfy. Even better (and quite a luxury, we determined) the room had a table and chairs which we could use our laptops at, and even a kitchen with a refrigerator, a sink with dishes and a gas stove.

The only catch when we took the room? We wanted to stay for three nights to give us two full days here, and they had a lot of bookings for the next day (today) so they didn’t have one room that had three nights together. We’d have to move today to a different room, which we couldn’t see yesterday because someone was in it, but it was only slightly smaller than the huge, lovely room that we really liked. Based on the original room, we figured it wouldn’t be a problem and booked our three nights.

Had a lovely sleep last night, although my tummy was still having trouble this morning so I was up before 6AM spending far too much time in the bathroom, and finally started taking antibiotics, too. But I figured it wouldn’t be a big deal because we’d still have tomorrow to sleep in, and if I wanted to take a nap today, I could – so I enjoyed the luxury of knowing that today and tomorrow we wouldn’t be moving on.

We had a nice leisurely morning. We went down to the courtyard (where there’s a small kitchen with a cook, one waitress and three tables) to have some breakfast. I ordered an omelette, which came with toast and marmalade, and was delightful. Kay ordered pancakes, which were some of the most tasty pancakes either of us has had in years. We joked when we first started eating about ordering a second plate each since neither of us has been able to hang onto any food for the past few days and we were starving, but Kay decided he couldn’t eat an entire omelette (which he would have ordered next) and I didn’t want to be the token fat chick ordering a second breakfast alone, so we declined.

Hotel de la Sol

Headed back to the room and poked around on the net, generally goofing off. We were waiting for them to move us, and then we planned to do laundry (I was SO looking forward to clean clothes, because we’ve been getting so sweaty and nasty lately that the sink-washing hasn’t been cutting it) and maybe go out and explore the city a bit. Shortly after 11AM, the hotel guy comes up and tells us it’s time to move, and helps us carry our stuff to the “slightly smaller” room downstairs.

That was mildly inaccurate.

The room is more than slightly smaller. Still, by our standards, a very nice room – but there’s only half a window instead of two full windows to open for ventilation, and it looks out on the pool instead of having the lovely view over the rooftops that the upstairs room had. No light and no fresh air from the half window. Which might not have been that bad, had the room not smelled strongly of cigarette smoke and cleaning supplies.

I did a circuit of the room and saw that to counteract the smoke smell, they’d stuck a toilet bowl cleaner into the back of the bar which separates the table and the bed, which you couldn’t see coming into the room. Yes. They’re using a toilet bowl cleaner as an air freshener. It doesn’t sound that bad until you’ve ever smelled a toilet bowl cleaner in a small enclosed space – it’s quite potent and rather unpleasant.

The combination of toilet bowl cleaner and smoke made it nearly impossible for me to breathe in this room (I have problems with smoke) and I knew right away this room was going to be a problem for me. After seeing how unhappy I was, Kay went to go find out if they had another room we could switch to, but they’re fully booked for today so we’re stuck with smokey, toilet-bowl cleaner room.

The room itself is totally decent (even nice) compared to a lot of the rooms we’ve been staying in. But it was a significant downgrade from the room we’d had upstairs (the one that convinced us to book this hotel in the first place) and I was angry – I felt they’d bait-and-switched us, and the room we have now simply ISN’T worth the same price as the room we’d had upstairs. Which is more than we’d normally pay for a room, anyway, but we thought we’d treat ourselves because we needed some R&R.

Combine that with the smoke/toilet bowl smell, and I didn’t want to stay here anymore. I asked Kay to go find out if they’d refund our money if we left early, and tried to take a nap in the bed to calm down a bit. I quickly discovered that the smell was too potent for me to breathe properly and had to get dressed and get out of the hotel. I was so upset/angry/uncomfortable that I didn’t even wait for Kay – just booked it out of the hotel with no wallet and no room key and no way for Kay to find me. I walked over to Lago Nicaragua, thinking I could get some fresh air there, and apparently Kay went looking for me but didn’t know where to find me because I’d left in such a huff and hadn’t told him where I was going.

Took some time to calm down and breathe the (relatively) fresh air of the lake, and then walked back to the hotel to apologize to Kay for storming out that way and being all dramatic, which isn’t like me at all. The stress is really starting to take its toll on me – the corrupt cops, the border crossings – I feel like *everyone* is out to get our money. And we don’t have that much of it to begin with, so I’ve been taking it more personally than I probably should. We’re *not* rich touristas, although I know we seem that way to the people in the countries we’re passing through – we’re doing this by the skin of our teeth and we might not have enough money left at the end to get back home.

So I talked with Kay a bit about this – we agreed yesterday that while we’re here in Granada we should take a look at our finances and see if we could really afford to cross the gap, do South America, fly home at the end, and still keep our apartment (since we’ve got house-sitters living there watching our dogs – we can’t let the apartment lapse). We’ve apparently both been aware for a while that there might not be enough money to do SA, but we haven’t really been talking about it and I think we were both waiting until we got to Panama to figure it out. But we’re close enough now that it was time to do the math and evaluate our options.

We checked out our finances and decided to give SA a go. We’ll be squeaking by to do it, but we should have enough, assuming something doesn’t go horribly awry. The first part of our trip showed us that things can definitely go horribly awry, so if something really bad (financially) does happen, we’ll just have to figure it out.

In the back of my head has always been the thought that I can always stop and work for a while along the road if we need more cash, because the beauty of my job is that I can work from anywhere. But I don’t know how realistic or viable that really is because I’d need to have a reliable ‘net connection for multiple days, and that seems to be a challenge to find. (For example, the perfectly good net connection we had in this hotel last night and today has now lapsed to completely non-functional – I assume because the hotel is now full and too many people are using the net.)

We were both happy and relieved to discover that we could do SA after all, but then we started looking at costs for getting around the Gap again and I started to stress all over again. (We’d done the math before and we knew what it would cost but I’m apparently super stress today.)

We’ve decided that we both really need a couple of days off, still, to unwind and relax a bit from all of the corrupt officials and border crossings that are starting to get to us, and this hotel in Granada isn’t giving us that. I don’t want to stay in this room longer paying what I feel is too high of a price – I would have gladly paid what they’re asking for the other room, but I simply don’t feel that this smaller, fewer-amenities, smoky room is worth staying in at this price. We could have two nights at another hotel for the same price, but not here in Granada because things are more expensive as this is a big tourist town.

So now the plan is to leave in the morning (there goes my chance to sleep in!) and move on to Costa Rica and try to find a place to hang out for a few days there. Except that researching that made me more stressy because it’s a big tourist destination and one of the most expensive countries (or maybe the most expensive country?) in Central America, and now I’m being all money-conscious until we get around the Gap.

Net result for our single day off in Granada? Spent more than we would have otherwise on a hotel, didn’t get any R&R (I spent most of the day stressing and was exhausted by 6PM – dunno how late I’ll be able to stay up). My tires aren’t mounted and aren’t going to be before Costa Rica, and maybe not until Panama. (I do, however, insist on getting them mounted or mounting them myself before we try getting around the Gap somehow because I am sick and effing tired of carrying around the tires.) We didn’t have time to do laundry today, or to get more copies of our documents, which we’d planned to do before another border crossing. So all in all, we’ve wasted a day in Granada without getting any real benefit from it.

My tummy was fine for most of the day after taking the antibiotics and generic-brand-Immodium this morning, but whilst writing this post I’ve had a flare-up of badness. With actual symptoms that require the antibiotics, so it’s just as well I started taking them this morning. Just took another dose of antibiotics and Immodium and hopefully that’ll help settle things. Kay has been fine most of the day although neither of us trust our intestines to stay put, and I’m not looking forward to moving on while we’re still having these problems that may demand we find a restroom quickly. That was part of our reason for staying in Granada.

In all, an annoying, stressful day. Much of it was my own doing, I realize, and we did have some positive results (i.e. we finally did the math and decided we’re definitely moving on to SA, which neither of us has been sure about) but there was also a lot of tiring emotional upheaval. I don’t feel fit to deal with corrupt cops, demands for bribes and another border crossing tomorrow, but it needs to be done. It’s either get moving or find another hotel here, and neither prospect seems very appealing at the moment.

The day started out with such promise, too.

Not every day of a trip like this is glorious, kiddies. Some days are tiring and emotionally fraught (especially with a woman along – as much as I hate playing into that stereotype, hormones *do* play a role in our emotional states) and it’s just not fun. You want to sit on your couch watching your nice TV with your SO and dogs and just chill.

But there are good days, too, when you feel lucky to be alive and on the bike on a trip like this… so the trick is to hang on until those days come back.

One Response to “Day 38 – Granada, Nicaragua”

  1. From Tommy:

    Have been watching your progress scence you left. Running thru all the cold weather. Better you left then, the north east has been hit hard with storm after storm. you both are very bold to take on such a challange. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were probably the worst as far as currupt officials. Columbia still lies ahead. Police, military and the bandits. Yes, everyone will want a cut, a payoff. After all you are in their country.
    Have enjoyed your updates but got a little worried when there was a delay in info coming in. Not much e-net service down SA. Larger cities ok.
    You have done your home work on the travil plan you should have very little problems. A give and take on Fuel and Lodging are your major cost.
    Good Luck and thanks for the adventure.

    Posted on January 20, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

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