Magdziarz Family Visit

>> Sunday, December 28, 2008

At the beginning of December, my parents made a trip down here to visit us and finally see for themselves the things we've been talking and blogging about for the last year and a half.

We started the trip in Masaya, and the first day went to Coyotepe, the old political prison up on a hill overlooking Masaya.  There were many dark passageways and a lot of bats, but if nothing else it made our house seem much nicer in comparison.

After that, we made a trip to Nicaragua's zoo.  It isn't very big, but for some reason Paul and I are fairly fond of it and like to take our visitors there.  The zookeeper gave us permission to pet the parrots that were out, and even the animals that are in cages are close enough to reach out and pet.  So far I've been able to resist, but one of these trips I'm not going to be able to stop myself and I will stick my hand through to pet the adorable three-legged jaguar.  We'll let you know how that works out.
One of the most, um, charming parts of the Nicaraguan zoo was the old lion that they had.  We were shocked to find a new, spry lion with a mane and everything in his place.  A zookeeper told me that the old lion died about 8 months ago, and that this one came fairly recently.
Paul and I got a nice new camera for our joint Christmas present and my parents hand delivered it, so all the pictures here are taken with that.  My mom also got a camera recently, so we spent a fair amount of time fiddling with camera settings (this is her camera):
We also made the mandatory trip to Masaya's old market to look for souvenirs. 
Our last stops in Masaya were to visit my counterpart, Carmen, and Paul's counterpart, Romel.  We ate some really delicious homemade ice cream, and visited with Romel and Azalia.  Their kids, Jeycob and Natalia, get cuter every time we visit:
After spending the first three days in Masaya, we went up to the northern part of the country to León.  Paul and I had never been there before and weren't quite sure what to expect, but it turned out to be great.  We started at Las Peñitas, a little town right on the Pacific.  The hotel was really cute (though it did lack televisions in the rooms), had amazing seafood, and was right on the beach.  Dora went with us (of course) and this time voluntarily let the ocean touch her a couple of times:
We had fun exploring up and down the beach and climbing on the rocks, and we came upon one section that was full of seashells.  There were lots of kids on the beach selling shell necklaces, so they were looking for shells to replinish their inventory.  They ended up giving all the shells to my mom, and even providing her with a sack to transport them all home in.
Obligatory sunset picture:
After leaving the beach town, we went to the city of León.  León has the largest cathedral in Central America and the third largest in all of Latin America (after Mexico City and Lima, Peru).  The legend is that the architect mixed up the plans as he was coming over from Spain, so León ended up with the much larger, nicer cathedral that was intended for Lima.   I'm not sure if this is true, but it makes for a nice story.  We climbed to the roof of the cathedral and got a nice view of León and all the surrounding volcanoes.
We ended the trip by passing through the Pueblos Blancos (white towns) and seeing the Laguna de Apoyo lookout in Catarina and buying nice pottery in San Juan de Oriente on our way to out last destination, Granada.  We stayed at Casa San Francisco, which is probably our favorite hotel in Nicaragua.  They also just opened up a roof terrace that had nice places to sit and watch the sun set or hang out and eat Eskimo ice cream,  both of which we did.
We went on a boat tour of the isletas near Granada in Lake Nicaragua.  There are something like 365 little islands, and the islands now house fancy weekend homes of wealthy Nicaraguans, regular homes of regular Nicaraguans, and monkeys!  If you're interested, we saw a little island for sale that could be yours for the small price of just $400,000 (monkeys optional).  Here's the boat we went on:
It turns out that Dora doesn't really like boat rides.  She spent just about the entire time curled up like this. 
The only time Dora was not hiding was when we saw the monkeys:
Dora does not like monkeys.  In fact, she growled at the monkeys and then kept close watch for the rest of the trip to make sure that no monkeys were going to try any funny business.  
Dora notwithstanding, the rest of us enjoyed monkey island and watching our tour guide feed them bananas.  Normally they coax the monkeys on to the boat so the people can give them bananas and take pictures with them, but the boat driver was too afraid that Dora and the monkeys would fight.  Unfortunately, I think the experience was a little scarring for Dora, because now she really dislikes babies and growls any time she sees one.  We're open to suggestions about how to teach Dora that monkeys and babies are two different creatures.

We ended the trip by visiting the edge of the Laguna de Apoyo, but were disappointed that the water was really high so there was no beach.  It was still nice to sit and relax by the water and wind down.  Back in Granada, my mom and I climbed to the top of another church belltower and took some pictures of Granada's scenery.
This was my parents' first trip out of the U.S., and Nicaragua had louder fireworks, bumpier roads, slower restaurant service, and more scenic routes than I think they were expecting, but they were great sports and I think we all had a great time.  We took a lot more pictures during the trip; you can check them all out (and see how we're doing with our new camera) at Flickr.
Thanks for coming, Mom and Dad!


Anonymous 8:01 AM, December 29, 2008  

Thanks Holly and Paul for being such wonderful hosts and tour guides! We had an awesome trip.

materials 8:24 AM, February 26, 2009  
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