A Latin Affair: Postcard perfect Granada
STEPPING gingerly from a moss-covered concrete jetty onto a boat not much bigger than a tinnie, I embarked on a journey to Nicaragua.
It was 6am and the sun had just peaked over the distant Honduras coastline to reveal the vast waters ahead.
I had just left a gorgeous coastal resort called Tortuga Verde (green turtle) - near the town of El Cuco in El Salvador - where one can while the hours away in a hammock by the beach.
Or surf or sunbake or drink cocktails to one's heart's content.
After more than two hours hopping across the choppy Gulf of Fonseca, my skin was well salted.
Once the captain dropped anchor in Nicaraguan waters, I added the exfoliating white stuff to my legs too as I waded to shore.
The immigration office was the size of a toilet block and sat in a big field with no nearby town in sight.
En route to Granada, the road from the isolated border crossing was dotted with tiny shacks sporting palm leaf roofs, people on horses and chickens playing chicken.
In contrast, Granada is the stuff of postcards - yet another picture-perfect Central American city.
A bike ride - $1 an hour or $5 a day - around the bumpy cobblestone roads reveals a bustling daily life in the colonial city.
It's not unusual to see people carrying an Eski or a chair on their head while bopping along on bicycles, or a refrigerator being transported in a horse-drawn cart.
Each church around town, dotted far enough apart to make it a decent bike ride, has its own unique charm and some have bell towers with great views over Granada.
The cemetery - which houses numerous Nicaraguan presidents - is full of mausoleums and tombs for whole families and has a delightful chapel too.
Nestled on the shores of Lake Nicaragua and beneath Mombacho Volcano, there's plenty of activities around the area too.
A hike through a cloud forest around the crater is a definite highlight, though there are more difficult options too.
Masaya Volcano, where you can drive to the edge and look into the steaming crater, was too active and closed during my visit.
When it's nearly 40C, Laguna de Apoyo is among the more obvious choices.
A natural lagoon in the crater of dormant volcano, the pristine water is perfect for swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding or just floating around in rubber tyres.
Stay tuned for the next blog on nearby Ometepe Island.
Kathy's Waffle House is THE place to go for breakfast or brunch from 7am to 2pm. For dinner, try the paella along Calle La Calzada or go the steak at Tercer Ojo.