We pick up the rental car bright and early and head straight for shopping. That's right - first day in Central America and I'm dragging Ian to a local market. I LOVE local markets - I could probably spend a lifetime wandering around them. Here we are in the famous Masaya market which lives up to its name, though I'm a little disappointed by most of the handicrafts. I'm a sucker for textiles and what Nicaragua has doesn't hold a candle to Guatemala. However ... they have ceramics ... amazing ceramics. Ian quickly gets overwhelmed, so I sit him down for a licuado made of copious fruit that one can only find here. He seems happy again. We're off again - this time on the short drive to Granada. We've already figured out that Ian is the driver and I am the navigator. This is mostly due to the fact that I can't drive a manual transmission very well (at all). We soon figure out that even though I'm fluent in Spanish, I also can't figure out maps in Nicaragua. So basically, Ian drives a certain direction based on his gut feeling. We drive this way for the rest of the trip while in cities and it ends up working quite well. We pull into Granada, about 30 minutes from Masaya, and are quickly lost in the maze of tiny one-way streets. That is, until Ian manages to park us directly in front of our hotel - Hotel La Bocona. This hotel has some of the best reviews on Trip Advisor and I'm here to check it out. Let me just say that it 100% lives up to the reviews: perfect location, helpful staff, beautiful historic rooms, immaculate. It's HOT here and we are in the tranquil pool within 10 minutes of arrival. Tonight, we're out and about - trying to get a feel for the town. It reminds me of a small, rundown Antigua, Guatemala. We have dinner at Tercer Ojo, which is a great funky restaurant downtown. The food is so good, we will eat here again and see some fabulous live guitar playing.
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