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One approach to Latin America is to track down places with names inherited from Spain, the great Hispanic coloniser. Granada is a case in point. Everyone knows of the Andalucian city and its iconic Alhambra, but until a few weeks ago I had no idea that it had a clone in Nicaragua, and a very beautiful one at that.


Granada (NIC) was founded in 1524, just 32 years after the last Moorish ruler of Granada (SP), Boabdil, rode over the Sierra Nevada into the sunset, surrendering all power to the ambitious Castilians. The founder of Granada (NIC) was the conquistador, Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba, whose surname Cordoba (from the Spanish city barely 100 miles from Granada), ended up as Nicaragua’s currency. Like Costa Rica’s colon which is named after Cristobal Colon (AKA Columbus).

Nicaragua has suddenly hit the travel hit-lists after lurking in the shadows for decades due to civil war and uber-corrupt regimes. Today the president is still Daniel Ortega (since 2007, and before that leader 1979 – 1990). He certainly scores for longevity though one citizen who chucked a can of red paint over a Presidential poster I saw obviously didn’t rate him. Perhaps the fact that Nicaragua is Latin America’s second poorest country has something to do with it.