We had paid in advance online for a month in Casa Jardin and now that we were in Granada, it didn’t seem like one of our brightest ideas. What if we hated it? A month can be a very long time.
We signed contracts with Vanessa in the office and moved outside where she hailed a battered old taxi to bring us to our house. There was already one passenger in the cab, an old lady with shopping bags who shuffled along the seat to let us in. Taxis are shared in Nicaragua so regularly stop and pick up random passengers enroute; this little old lady looked safe so we didn’t mind the company.
We parked directly across from Guadalupe Church, an incredibly striking building near Lago Nicaragua. While the worn, unpainted facade was really beautiful and rustic, it created an eerie melancholic ambience in the evening light. ‘Quite the perfect setting for a horror movie’ I thought, so we were a little unsettled as we stepped up the concrete stoop to the house.
It looked nothing special from outside but that was to be expected , it is inside that Nicaraguan homes are so wonderful. First, we opened the metal grill, common to all Nica houses, then the big old doors and stepped into the dark salon. The moment of truth!
We hit the lights and took in the surroundings; it was stunning,everything we had dreamed of. A huge living room with a soaring ceiling and thick white adobe walls decorated with tasteful art work. Propped on an artist’s easel in the corner was a huge jungle painting of colourful vines and threadlike tendrils. Other brightly coloured works hung on the wall, all capturing the same humid tropical beauty.
In the centre of the spacious salon was a small table surrounded by wood and wicker rocking chairs. Just like La Doña’s house.
‘ Wait till you see outside’ said Vanessa as she grappled with keys and opened two huge doors leading to a central garden. Left of the garden patio was a kitchen stove and sink ,while on the right were a hammock, sofa bed and another set of rocking chairs . A half roof extended out from the salon creating these cool, shaded living spaces.
‘Nicaraguan kitchens are half-in half-out, you can cook and clean and still enjoy the birds and butterflies ‘ Vanessa chirped ‘ the bedrooms are down at the end of the garden’
She directed us down past luscious vegetation, exotic palms and fruit trees to an outhouse which she opened with another set of keys. The ensuite bedroom inside was beautiful but contained only one bed. ‘Where does Darragh sleep ?’ we wondered, hoping it wasn’t the outside sofa bed.
‘There’s another room but it’s a bit hidden’she laughed. The other outhouse was behind tall palms at the end of the garden.Vanessa unlocked it with yet another key revealing an ensuite-bedroom even more beautiful than the first. Darragh loved it but we, his over-protective parents thought it was awfully far away.
All in all, we gave the place the thumbs up and were delighted that all the rent from the house would go to local charities for clean water and educational development.
Outside a cacophonous brass band seemed to get nearer and nearer. We scrambled to the front door to check it out and saw a statue being carried high along the street followed by a brass band blaring mournful and sombre sounds.
‘Semana Santa’ Vanessa explained. Guadeloupe is the centre of the carnival. You’ll have a perfect view of the parades and festival right from your doorstep. Semana Santa is a huge deal in Nicaragua’
‘ Let me know if you have any problems’ she shouted over the din,handing us two sets of keys. I was too distracted by a huge man sweating profusely in a tuba to pay proper attention to Vanessa’s goodbye.