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2006 was my third time on the jury for the Nicaragua Cup of Excellence, and golly-gee what a nifty time was had by all. Please take a peek at my 3 pages of "snapshots" (not "photographs") and you will see what i mean. And a message to all the judges who did not score the coffees as I did: YOU MESSED UP! Okay, just kidding. Here's some pictures...

 

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Okay, that was tacky of me to slip our logo in there...
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The 2006 Cup of Excellence was held in Granada Nicaragua this year. Granada is a hot sticky humid and beautiful town on Lake Nicaragua, about 1 hour from the capital of Managua.
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Now, to make it clear which Granada we are talking about, this is a view of Granada, Espana ... where the name of our Granada comes from.
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And this is Grenada, with an "e" ... you know, the place that threatened peace in the western hemisphere so greatly that they had to be shut down in 1983 ...
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and here is the 1975 Ford Granada, another car best forgotten.
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And finally, the Granada on the shores of the massive and shallow Lake Nicaragua.
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Like all once-glorious places, Granada, Nicaragua is beautiful as, and if you are a sucker for the rustic like me, you can indulge yourself ad nauseum.
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... and more beautiful cathedrals, this one located on the town square.
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The office of the alcalde, police station, etc.
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Besides the peeling paint, I have a thing for commercial art. This green giant was 10 feet tall but could only be snapped from 2 feet away.
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Many of the buildings are single story but the proportions belong to the Carribean, and colonial Latin America. Remember, heat rises and high ceilings help.
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Granada is carribean in color too, I suppose. The cynical part of me would say there is a planning commission that enforces contrasting, bright, primary colors for each building, but in Nicaragua? No, i don't think so.
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And granada has a full-fledged tourist industry that offers more places to stay than can be counted, in the form of small hotels and hostels.
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My absolute favorite pictures here are of the food carts around the city, with tantalizing paintings of all the things american (north, south, and central). Coffee, coca-cola, hot dogs, spiderman, etc.
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If the dogs haven't throroughly adopted to the humid heat, they have been aided my the prevelence of mange, thinning the coat to a minimum. Amazingly, they are the best-fed dogs i have seen in c. america (and i suspect from observation that this is partly due to the fact they eat fallen mangos from the town's many mango trees).
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Bumpy rides on brick streets for heat-stricken tourists who can't hoof it themselves. I don't think the bows make these steeds more pleased to stand there all day waiting for a fare.
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Again, i can't resist. what goes better with a hot dog than coffee? Well, i guess good coffee, and you can be sure the push-carts serve the finest nicaraguan coffees...
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If you duck, you can actually walk on the sidewalks, but most people use the streets. of course, drivers are very calm and courtious, and pedestrians always have the right of way.
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At sunset, the lake. lake nicaragua is massive, fairly clean, and still a viable source for fish to some degree. It also has some 300+ islands. I would say more about Granada history, pirate invasions, Vanderbilts, the 49'ers route through here, etc, but that is best found on other sites.
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Conveniently-placed boulders near the lake warn you to wash your fruits and vegetables!
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40 foot billboards near the lake that few see. the boats i saw at the pier in granada were soviet era, basically, and look like the next ferry disaster waiting to happen.
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Painted benches, painted tree trunks, everything painted.
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All wetlands trashed. You know, in general every populated rural area of C. America is trashed, the water filthy, the forests devastated. the cause is poverty, But what are you going to do? Lock up all the poor? Well, however enured you are to it, it is still sad.
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Hotel Alahambra, the comfortable accommodation for the judges for the cup of excellence, captured in a particularily, uh, naive painting of "magic realist" style.
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beyond all the handmade crafts that abound, here is proof that invention and craft are for real in nicaragua - handmade coathangers at the hotel alahambra. this goes beyond appeasing tourist expectations for quaintness; it is cheaper to carve your own hanger than buy a cheap plastic one.
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tiny bubbles on an unbroken crusty cup of coffee. admittedly, there is not much in this travelogue about the event, or about coffee, but here are some of the other judges (there were liek 28 total)
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paul songer was the head judge, a fellow who has abundant technical expertise and can recite coffee chemistry to you like others discuss football.
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george howell who owns terroir roastery and basically cofounded the cup of excellence. to the right, alex the cupper at prodecoop where our fair trade nica comes from, and probably the "winningest" cooperative in the Nicaragua CoE.
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erika hernandez from elan organics in san diego.
 

 

You are not done yet, not even close. There are 2 more pages to go! Link to all my scores.

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