Monday, September 15, 2014

Nicaragua--The Next Hot Spot for Travelers?

          All the travel magazines seem to be celebrating Nicaragua this year as the new, must-see destination for travelers, pointing out that it's safe, stunningly beautiful and an incredible bargain.  Condé Nast Traveler just labelled it "a paradise poised for discovery".
           Nicaragua is also the setting for daughter Eleni Gage's next novel,  tentatively titled "The Ladies of Managua", which will be published in 2015 by St. Martin's Press.  It's about three generations of Nicaraguan women who reunite at a funeral and are forced to confront their complicated relationships to each other and to their country with its tumultuous history and vibrant present.  As someone said about the book, "Think 'Gone with the Wind' but in Nicaragua."
         To give a glimpse into the beautiful country that is the background for "The Ladies of Managua", I'm reprinting a post I wrote in 2013, describing the daily routine of daughter Eleni, granddaughter Amalia and their family during the six months they lived in the charming colonial city of Granada. If you're considering adding the country to your bucket list, you might also enjoy "Birthing Turtles in Nicaragua" and "Turtle (and Bird and Monkey) Watching in Nicaragua", which I posted in 2011.
Since October, granddaughter Amalía and her Mommy and Papi have been living in the quaint, quiet, colonial city of Granada, Nicaragua, with occasional trips back to swinging South Beach, Miami.
 Granada, with its horse-drawn carriages, almost weekly religious festivals and handicraft markets is very different from the wacky modern vibe of South Beach, but Amalía’s day is still just as busy in Nicaragua as in Florida.
                                Photo taken during the Poetry Festival by Eleni Gage de Baltodano
 Amalía wakes up demanding to eat huevos and gallo pinto—the national dish of Nicaragua, 
made of beans and rice.  ( “Gallo Pinto” literally means “spotted rooster”.)
 Then everyone goes out to have fruit and yogurt and coffee by the swimming pool. 
 But Amalía can’t tarry; she has to go find the tortugas, 
which are always hiding somewhere in the garden.  
 She likes to feed them leaves but sometimes they run away (very slowly). 
 Then she has to check on Tonia, the parrot, who comes out of her cage in the morning 
to eat sunflower seeds and wake everyone up with her shrieks. 
 After breakfast, Amalía and her Mommy may walk to the center of town 
to have juice and sweets with friends.
 And do a little shopping.
 Everyone knows Amalía and says “Buenos dias.” 

 Or Mommy and Amalía might take a taxi to the market at Masaya, to buy handicrafts.
                                 A mural at Masaya Craft Market, 14 kilometers from Granada
 hammocks, handmade masks and textiles.
Then it's time for a nap.
  After lunch Amalía likes to play in the pool with Papou, when he’s visiting,

Or with her two grandmas:   Yiayia Joanie and Abuela Carmen.

Or she might go out with her babysitter Maria José—
maybe to the lakeside where she can see parrots and monkeys,
large water birds
 and one of Nicaragua’s famous volcanoes.

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