When I first arrived to Granada, I would take early exploring walks through my neighborhood before the summer heat would begin to hover heavily over the day’s movements. On one such morning, I fell into one of those easy spontaneous exchanges, that Nicaraguans so freely initiate throughout their day, with an older man (in his third age, as they kindly say here) sitting on his porch. He saw me admiring his pretty street and eagerly wanted to know what I thought of his city. I did’t have to embellish the truth.
Granada is surely the most beautiful city in Nicaragua, I said.
He shook his head and smiled at me almost paternally. No, he calmly corrected me. Granada is the most beautiful city in Central America.
Ahh, there it was. That wonderfully compelling Granadino pride. A defendable pride not only because this city is undoubtedly the aesthetic crown jewel of the third America, but also because it is a city that for centuries has produced great generals and presidents, honored poets and intellectuals, and undefeatable militias and revolutionaries. It is the stock and pedigree of a people born to shine brightly through both the mire and wealth of the ages (495 years of endeavoring to be exact).
Granada may be filled with many glorious ghosts of bygone days, but you can sense that the historic grand gestures of its parks, avenues, and boulevards are bustling with activity and renewal. Today its own cherished youth are energetically employed in worthy industry to engage the greater world throughout the city. And as you stroll through any of its center streets at dusk, you will be heartened to witness the eternal familiar life that flows out from tall cathedral windows and famously weathered doors onto sidewalks alive with conversation and ready commerce.
I cannot walk down the quirky cobblestone streets of this city and not feel this kind of satisfying joy absorbed from the layers of exchanges that I have with Nicaraguans and foreign residents alike; this energizing connection through our shared space within a resplendent city that interlaces like a small town. And when we connect, strangers and friends equally, I feel like that they are all people from my own, small home town. As if we have always been here, engaged in this endless conversation that began long ago and will never waver for a moment for us now that we are here.
The dialogue that begins simply with polite courtesies and smiles, develops into shared truths, then fed and unfolded again each day with new layers of life’s happenings and crucial details. This conversation which I never want to end because it has connected me and sustained me when I needed to catch my breath, when we needed a place to call home.
I suppose that cities can be much like people. When you love someone dearly, you cannot see their flaws as others might. Any personal defects are just facets of their being, cherished because they are adjoined to that person’s presence. That is how I feel about my adopted city that has so kindly taken us in. I cannot see any more the aspects that might detract from my enjoyment of the attributes that please me. They now just are and I now just am. Here together, making our way, circling and intertwining in the same blessed space.
Here is where I will sink my roots and raise my son. Here is where I will share a life that is worth living alongside the chorus of sustaining chatter that envelops our gradually revealed messages of everyday hopes, laughter and dreams.
I will live and love cherishing this:
And many years ahead, here they will bury me here when the endless conversation must pause, but so that I can still listen to its murmur:
Someday, someone may remind me that Granada is the most beautiful city in Central America. And I too, may sigh before I clarify with my heart full of love:
No, compañero. Granada, (que bendita sea) is the most beautiful city in the world.