We rise and take breakfast a little earlier today, as Guillermo is due at 8:30 to take us touring and on to our next destination. Similar breakfast to previous days, with some convention delegates around us, replacing the large US tour from the previous couple of days.
Guillermo rings up before 8:00, which we try not to let faze us; in any case we are both ready around about 8:30, by which time I have chatted with Guillermo and also with Edgar and David who are there for other guests today.
First stop; a primary school just outside Leon where we meet teachers, the principal and of course loads of kids. There are just about enough pens to go around here; one per kid. Guillermo is involved with a charity, World Challenge, that has worked with this school before and he knows they need the pens!
Then a long drive to Masaya, a very pretty, colourful little town but what turns out to be an uber-touristic market. On the outskirts of town (before we reach the market) we stop at a viewing point for Laguna de Masaya and see vultures and also a Panamanian hostel proprietor, ex US military, on vacation himself. We see him again at the market and we debate who is following whom around. I defer to his judgment that we are following him around on the grounds that he’s much bigger than me and ex military. He says that I made a wise decision.
The market temporarily spoils my mood, as does the next viewing point in the “”white village”” of Catarina, overlooking Laguna de Apoyo, with its cafe touts and very touristic atmosphere. We (Janie, me, Guillermo) quickly take juice, Coke and lemonade respectively up there after seeing and photographing the view.
Then on to San Juan de Oriente, a very pretty village with beautiful nurseries which we view and photograph from a distance. We stop at a traditional pottery-making outfit and watch the son of the potter, who claims to be no use at pottery, start to make a pot. The master potter turns up towards the end and we buy some little nick-nack ceramic bird-whistle things for little Penny.
Then on to Granada, where we start at Le Merced but cannot climb the tower because it is closed, then on to and through some other historic buildings and round to the cathedral, where we see the new ceiling paintings being done, then (although we are pretty churched-out by now) on to El Convento San Fransisco where again (perhaps mercifully) almost everything is closed. Guillermo seems upset for us, despite our insistence that we really don’t mind. Perhaps he is upset for our souls.
Then we get hold of the final CD for my collection; to include some Nicaraguan/Carribean style music, in particular Dimension Costena, which Guillermo manages to source on the street for us. Then we stock up with water and down to the pier (or, as it turns out, the marina) to pick up our boat transfer to Jicaro Lodge and say goodbye to Guillermo.
We meet a quartet of young Americans on the boat; it seems that Jicaro is mostly populated with those (judging also by the friendly youngsters who greet us around the pool) so our role is to bring up the average age of the clientele and add a little English class to this English-owned property, not least through the dulcet tones of Benjy, my baritone ukulele, of course.
Jicaro looks lovely – Nubia spends about 45 minutes orienting us and we choose our sumptuous-sounding dinner. Sumptuous indeed it was:
- chayote (a “cucumber-like thing” but with more flavour – transpires it is actually a water squash) & papaya salad with lime, dried fruit and mint starter for me;
- fresh watermmelon with feta, balsemic and basil starter for Daisy;
- baked tilapia with rice and vegetables for me;
- seared red snapper with papaya and grapefruit compote with brown rice and vegetables for Daisy;
- chocolate cake thingie for Daisy;
- frozen banana with chocolate and cashew for me;
- all washed down with a fine organic biowhateveryoucallit sauvignon blanc wine.
I give Benjy a good go, for a while before dinner and then a longer thrash afterwards, by the end of which Daisy has long since gone to bed.