On our last night in Costa Rica, we had met Wayne, a bubbly, heavily-tattooed motorbike enthusiast from Idaho.
‘I had to get out of Idaho man! It gets to 18 below; when you throw a cup of coffee outside in the air,it freezes before it hits the ground. The heat here is great!’
Wayne had told us his life story, how he had built up a successful metal fabrication business but stepped back from it when he hit 5o,handing over the running of the business to his daughter while he travelled Central America.
‘My friends told me I was mad and that I’d be kidnapped down here,’he laughed.’But me, I’m having the time of my life, I’ve met so many good people. I have friends all over the world now! I can go wherever I want,’ he enthused in his extraordinarily high-pitched voice.(Darragh claimed he must have been on helium)
‘I just gotta be back for my granddaughter’s birthday. I promised her; she’s five, I got her a little chopper just like my one, otherwise I’d keep going and going. Travelling is great’
Standing a day later in blistering heat , twenty miles outside Granada, I thought of Wayne and the fire in his belly. I no longer shared his enthusiasm.
Our flame was fairly low now, a mere flicker. We were tired of travel and would go home to Ireland now, given a choice. Darragh especially was on a count-down. He wanted to see his cousins and friends, play football and jump off the pier in Caorán Mór, no matter how cold the water would be ( we’ll wait and see if he does it)
Having our own colonial home in Granada for a month gave us something to look forward to,but discovering that it was still 20 miles away was a kick in the stomach. We dropped to the ground exhausted.
It was impossible to walk in this heat with heavy bags, so we found shade, factored up with sun cream and waited. Hopefully a taxi or bus would pass soon.
Waiting, we played ” Top 5″. Best countries we visited,meals, sights, hotels, beaches until we spotted a little van approaching.
Three of us flagged it down and the young lad ,hanging from the side ,said it would bring us to Granada.
‘Where have we heard that before?’I thought.
The only seats were right at the back of the mini-van but we couldn’t get back there with our bags,so the passengers at the front took them from us and we squeezed down to the rear.
The van passed the hulking Mombacho volcano overlooking Granada while we spoke about our rented home, Casa Jardin. The website painted a beautiful picture of this artist’s residence across from the lovely and historic Guadalupe Church. It promised a cosy place with plenty of natural light and all the character and colour of traditional Nicaraguan living.
It sounded just like La Doña’s house where we stayed so comfortably seventeen years ago, hopefully we would be just as happy in Casa Jardin ,our very own Nicaraguan home.
Soon we could see the three searing domes of Granada cathedral and drove the warren of streets to the central market terminal.
Nicaraguan addresses use local landmarks not street names. Our house key could be collected from an agency two blocks north and a block east of the Cathedral,so we made our way there through the bustling open market, past the peddler stalls to the Central Park.
The park was book-cover perfect with trees and food stalls and lines of painted carriages waiting to ferry tourists about. But, there were lots of beggars, arms outstretched looking for ‘one dollar, one dollar’ Little boys came up to us with banana leaf flowers and rehearsed English phrases ‘ It’s a gift.Free for you’. Bizarrely, one was wearing a Kerry GAA jersey.
We smiled but continued to the cavernous colonial cathedral, originally built in the 16th century but sacked and destroyed many times by maurading pirates ; firstly by Captain Morgan and years later by Dampier.It’s brightly painted yellow facade and red-tiled roofs create both a beautiful backdrop and convenient reference point.
We walked up the cobbled pedestrian streets past Casa Tres Mundos where La Doña had sent us to see the Sandinista folk singer; one of many buildings burned to the ground by the American filibuster William Walker, declared president of Nicaragua in 1856.
We paused to read a plaque outside Tres Mundos ‘what a pity it is to be blind in Granada.’ Poet Francisco A De Icaza’s tribute to the Alhambra and Granada’s Spanish namesake.
Perhaps, there was a little bit of Bubbly Wayne’s fire in the belly left in us yet.