Quality of Life in Granada – Point/Counterpoint

Opinion on Quality of Life in Granada – Point by Leslie, counterpoint by Darrell

I write this from Chinendega where streets are filled with people, bicycles and bicycle taxis ( I LOVE these). It’s so sweet. Not so in Granada.

The sewer project through Granada promised cleaner water in our lovely Lago de Colcibolca. Should we celebrate as it nears completion? And as the havoc of torn up streets is in abeyance? I think not.  We may have gained cleaner water but our quality of life is compromised.

The new asphalt is slick and smooth as a child’s playground slide and drivers now use our unblemished streets as speedways. Gone are the pot holes, gaping abysses, dips and humps that once functioned as speed control devices. Also gone are the children playing soccer in the roadways in the evening. Barreling cars have no patience for child’s play. Going are the families in rocking chairs – they’re retreating indoors with their kids – rather than enjoying their rocking chairs and conversation on the sidewalk.

It feels dangerous on the sidewalk abutting street-raceways.  It feels inhumane.  Cars are roaring up these baby-bottom smooth street in a frightening manner. It’s no fun to stroll anymore. The acceleration of cars, the blasting horns of these speeders that cause pedestrians to scatter, the sheer number of cars, the apparent irreverence of drivers to pedestrians and to the children who once used the streets as their evening playground-  is such a loss.

The rapid car traffic has shattered gone beyond the human comfort level that made our streets fun to know. The community ambience on the streets was Granada’s sweetness and it is going away. It is a sad state of affairs for a tourist city to give itself over to speeding autos.  We should be doing just the opposite….creating an environment for walking in safety and ease.  Is it too late to add speed bumps, stop signs, dips and other speed control devices?  What a noisy, polluted, hectic and unfriendly place our streets have become. Add to this the need to enforce noise ordinances on the innumerable racing motor cycles!

Yep…sounding crabby here.  If you feel as I do, talk to the folks at the Alcaldia…especially the very competent young woman who is City Planner for the historic district (downtown).  You can find her in the offices behind the old hospital.

Let’s raise our voices on these matters! The quality of life we loved here and the safety of all is at stake.

By Leslie Warren   [email protected]

Counterpoint by Darrell Bushnell

Leslie is a good friend but we disagree on almost everything except we both love Nicaragua.

So many people want time to stop here because they can then visit a town where it still looks like the 1950s. There are many expats that have moved here and would love to close the borders to prevent others from coming.

They say the same thing in the states about the good old days forgetting the many advantages of modern life. When I was a kid we were afraid of hospitals because you often did not return from them. Spousal and child abuse were so common that your mother would warn you about Uncle Ted and to not be alone with him. I was out of high school by the time I figured that one out. During the cold war we were constantly afraid of a nuclear strike or worse, one of our politicians might push the button for the first strike.

No, despite IPhones, FaceBook, many of us getting fat and people disconnecting from the social life I think I prefer the higher quality of life. Nicaragua is still the 2nd poorest country in the Americas yet the people are amazingly happy but the education and health system for the average Nicaraguan are abysmal. One of the most fundamental rights is access to clean water, not playing in the streets.

Lake Managua is dead, Lake Masaya is dead and Lake Nicaragua is dying especially near human habitats. Nicaragua must install water and sewer systems as Granada is doing or there will be no clean water for anyone. And the price for Granada is that kids can’t play in the streets? Sorry, streets are made for cars, buses, bicycles, motorcycles and the occasional horse cart or carriage else they should have remained dirt. Actually, it is illegal in Granada for soccer and baseball games in the streets unless a permit is issued for a special event.

We lived in a colonial home for eight years and often there would be a soccer game on the street but the participants were not small children, they were older teenagers and adults up to 30 years old. Even our Nica neighbors did not enjoy the event due to the noise, balls hitting portones and the constant screaming. Many times the ball would fly over someone’s wall into the patios and the Nica owners would refuse to return the ball. There are many areas in Granada where you can play soccer but it would require walking several blocks.

Sorry, there is a price for progress and I am not going to complain about streets with fewer potholes. Like most people, I am not a fan of taxis since they do not follow traffic laws or common sense but few expats have vehicles. The bicycle taxis are cute but most of them are switching to the motorcycle taxis (tuk-tuks) and they are as bad as regular taxis – have you ever visited Diriomo?

Granada is a major tourist city so if you want to live where the streets are not used, you will need to move to a much smaller town or move out to the country. Surprisingly, Chinendega is larger than Granada and the fifth largest city in Nicaragua. But compared to Granada it is muy tranquilo.

If I was Nicaraguan, I would choose clean water and a good sewer system over games in the streets. Sure, I wish Granada was quieter, that there were real stop signs instead of memorizing which streets have the right of way, that motorcycles were held to the noise ordinance rules (and not pass on the right) and that there was a better health and education system. I also wish ice cream was free and everyone liked me but it is not going to happen in my lifetime.

Granada is what it is and I like it. OK, enough said, that should rile some feathers.