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Nicaragua – Masaya and the Old Fortress

I wake up early here, and I feel rested and ready for the day. In fact, I can’t wait for the day to start—I make up plans and go with them, no matter how crazy they here. Eh, that’s the perks of travelling alone, right?

I am staying in a nice hostel in Granada and for $12 I have a room to myself, shared showers and kitchen and a safe place to store my bags. I am using the city as a base to explore the country: it’s convenient and this way, I don’t have to find a new hostel every night.

Today my plan was to visit Masaya, a city famous for its craft market.

I walked to the chaotic market street in Granada to catch one of the chicken buses—yes, like Guatemala, Honduras or Belize, Nicaragua uses these colourful US school buses as public long-distance buses. Needless to say, rides are long, bumpy and crowded but very fun.

I hopped onto the bus and it took us over an hour to drive the 30 kilometres to Masaya—the bus stopped pretty much every two metres to pick passengers, bags, luggage and various unmarked boxes of stuff that were tied to the roof of the bus when it became clear they really couldn’t fit inside it.

The bus terminal was in the middle of a huge dusty and muddy parking lot that doubled as a market. First stop for me: Mercado Viejo, the craft market, located a couple of kilometres down the road, into town.

I was expecting a colourful display of goods like in Chichicastenango, all I got was a somewhat sterile and quiet indoor market selling nice but somewhat generic souvenirs. I wandered between the stalls for 30 minutes and left without buying anything.

I walked to the waterfront to see the laguna and was rewarded with a nice view on Volcán Masaya and the water—it looks clean and blue but apparently it is very polluted.

The last thing I wanted to see in Masaya was the Fortaleza El Coyotepe, an old fortress built by President Zelaya, later used as a prison for political enemies. I headed to the Carretera Panaméricana, the Pan-American Highway, eating a couple of empanadas bought at the bakery. I couldn’t help thinking how cool it was to walk on a stretch of the 48,000 kilometre-long highway that links all the mainland nations in the Americas!

The steep climb to the fortress was… well, steep. Like, really steep. Like “fuck-I-shouldn’t-have-had-that-cigarette-but-I-so-deserve-a-cake” steep. The view was worth it though!

On my way back, I stopped by a fun café that played awesome music from the 1990s, including Nirvana—Masaya rocks!

Chicken Bus to Masaya
Chicken Bus to Masaya
Yes, Chicken Buses Come With... A Flat Screen TV!
Yes, Chicken Buses Come With… A Flat Screen TV!
Bus Station in Masaya
Bus Station in Masaya
Chicken Buses in Masaya
Chicken Buses in Masaya
Chicken Buses in Masaya
Chicken Buses in Masaya
Chicken Buses in Masaya
Chicken Buses in Masaya
Market in Masaya
Market in Masaya
Market in Masaya
Market in Masaya
Che Mural
Che Mural
Church in Masaya
Church in Masaya
Masaya
Masaya
Laguna de Masaya
Laguna de Masaya
Laguna de Masaya
Laguna de Masaya
Masaya
Masaya
Round-About on the Panamericana
Roundabout on the Panamericana
La Panamericana
La Panamericana
La Laguna from the Top of the Fortaleza El Coyotepe
La Laguna from the Top of the Fortaleza El Coyotepe
Volcan Masaya from the Top of the Fortaleza El Coyotepe
Volcan Masaya from the Top of the Fortaleza El Coyotepe
Fortaleza El Coyotepe
Fortaleza El Coyotepe
Fortaleza El Coyotepe
Fortaleza El Coyotepe
To the Sandinista Martyrs
To the Sandinista Martyrs
Yeah, Masaya Likes Nirvana!
Yeah, Masaya Likes Nirvana!
Chicken Bus
Chicken Bus
Market by the Station
Market by the Station
Chicken Bus
Chicken Bus

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