In Nicaragua, almost half the population sit below the poverty line, which is why Granada comes as a surprise. Its colonial-era riches stand strong in its architecture and a recent tourism boom has given rise to a high-end foodie culture and niche shops.
From the bell tower of Iglesia La Merced, the city falls away towards Lake Nicaragua. The neo-gothic domes of Our Lady of the Assumption Cathedral, break the horizon.
In the other direction, from the stairwell of Our Lady of the Assumption, Granada’s wealthiest buildings frame a green plaza. In 2018, most tenants here are high-end hotels.
In contrast, stall sellers shelter from the hot sun, providing street food and cheap souvenirs for locals and visitors on a much lower budget.
In the plaza itself is a monument to Nicaragua’s most famous poet, Ruben Dario. Literature and folklore is very important in the country, as it tells the stories of the panoply of cultures who settled here over the centuries.
The old and the new: School children walk through the plaza past beautiful fountains and planted gardens.
In the land of lakes and volcanoes, Mombacho Volcano guards the city and can be seen from all directions. Its largest explosion thousands of years ago created ‘Las Isletas’ a patchwork of small islands that now sit in the neighbouring lake.
A walk to Lake Nicaragua’s shores passes smaller, but just as colourful buildings on Granada’s outskirts. The rainbow painted houses pop against the blue sky and deep greens of climbing plants.
Las Isletas – The Small Islands – are only a short boat ride from the city. They’re now home to the rich and famous. Even the country’s ex-presidents have houses on these volcanic havens.
Not only the rich live in Las Isletas. The fertile rock provides a lush habitat for countless bird species and spider monkeys. This one, Lucy, was pregnant and seemed indifferent to our boat passing by.
Even the graveyards in Las Isletas have a view to die for!
In a country where agriculture is still the major contributor to GDP (with tourism now following s swift second) fishing and farming practices are never far from the cities. Traditional fishing is a daily business only ten minutes off shore from the swanky cocktail bars of Granada.