During our nine-day mid-winter visit to Gran Pacifica Resort in Nicaragua, we arranged with our concierge to take a day trip to the Spanish colonial city of Granada. This amazing place dates to the 1520s and was founded by Spanish conquistadors. Our gracious tour host was American expat John-Marc Gallagher, founder of the Dos Gringos Cigar Company and a friend of Gran Pacifica's Kent Payne. Granada is a two-hour drive from the resort, so we received an excellent tour at the hands of our driver.
Exploring the Town
As we arrived in town, and coursed the narrow streets, we were amazed at the traditional architectural styles, vibrant paint colors on the buildings, and the "Lincoln"Â movie showing at the local movie theater. (Wonder who dubbed Old Abe's voice in Spanish?) After arriving and meeting John-Marc, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of eggs-and-bacon with orange juice and dark coffee at a local cafe, which also shared space with an art gallery. The ladies in our entourage immediately began exploring the offerings of amazing paintings and ceramics for sale at prices that were low to us but to Granadans are reasonably high.
John-Marc then took the two menfolk to the shop operated by Gail Collins. Our host showed boxes of his brand of cigars made from leaf grown and processed from his own farms in Nicaragua. After sampling one of his wares, we made purchases, and then walked a few blocks to the manufacturing factory of Mombacho Cigars. John-Marc introduced us to Claudio, Mombacho's master blender and director of operations, who is from Sicily but speaks picture-perfect English.
Claudio graciously took time out of his busy schedule to give us a long and detailed tour of the plant, showing us A to Z the process of cultivating and curing and blending the tobacco into a finished product. With the company president Marco, we then sampled the Mombacho product, and made yet another purchase. John-Marc then took us to another local cafe to rendezvous with our ladies and enjoy a meal of deliciously prepared and spiced fish.
As the Day Came to a Close...
Our day in Granada ended with visits to more galleries of remarkable paintings and sculpture plus a shop that repaired old violins and cellos with master care. More purchases were made, of original artworks and prints that will someday be displayed in our homes in the Pittsburgh area. We will return to Granada again, and again, and yet again, exploring the nooks and crannies that make it a go-to destination in Nicaragua.