Following our quick tour of the Plaza de la Independencia, it was off to lunch at the Toritos Hotel Restaurant & Bar on Calle Calzada, Granada.
To save time, Eric, our tour guide, had phoned in our orders and they served us as soon as all 20+ of us had our seats. (Lunch was included in the cost of the tour.)
My fish with salad and rice, served with a few wedges of lime, was light and delicious. We spent maybe 30-45 minutes at the restaurant then it was back on the bus to our next stop – Monkey Island on Lake Nicaragua.
At just over 3,000 square miles, Lake Nicaragua, a freshwater lake, is the largest in Central America, the nineteenth largest in the world. Numerous fish, including tarpon, sawfish and an endemic species of shark live in the lake that, in parts, reaches a depth of 85 feet.
Because of its size and depth, about 400 islands dot the lake. Many are inhabited and several are privately owned by prominent Nicaraguans and some foreigners. There was even one with a For Sale sign.
Climbing on to the small craft that would take us to Monkey Island, I noticed right away that no one distributed life preservers. Was I taking a risk? I pushed that unsettling thought out of my head and relaxed into my seat.
A man, who looked young enough to be in high school, took the engine and soon the boat was slicing through the brown water kicking up sprays. Ours were the only two boats on the open lake and as we glided pass small islands, we trained our cameras, trying to get good shots without getting water on to the lenses.
The ride to Monkey Island took no more than 10 minutes. I was a bit disappointed that the island wasn’t larger so we could disembark but the capuchin monkeys put on a little show, jumping from rock to rock and swinging from tree to tree as if they knew they had an audience. (They are called capuchin because their color reminded the early explorers of Franciscan monks.) One even jumped into a boat that pulled in after we did. I suspect someone might have lured it with food.
We spent about 10 minutes watching the monkeys then our boatman turned us around and headed back to the pier, the mid afternoon sun shining like diamonds on the water.