A lot of people ask us about the rainy season, especially since it’s going on right now (May-Oct). To many North Americans and Europeans, when they hear rain, they think their whole day of vacation might be ruined. Fortunately that’s rarely true here in Granada, Nicaragua. Usually when the forecast calls for rain, the rain comes in the afternoon for one or two hours at most. And boy does it rain like something few foreigners have seen before! The skies open and rain pours down,

it gushes off the roof into the deep gutters throughout the interior gardens and gurgles directly out the drains into the street. But don’t worry! The local architecture, highlighted at Mansion de Chocolate, is perfect for staying dry while enjoying the view of the rain. Wait it out here and have a cup of coffee at ChocoMuseo or even take the 2 hour chocolate class!

There are over 30 different types of hummingbirds in Nicaragua, or as they are called in Spanish, colibris. Hummingbirds are most attracted to red flowers and we make a concerted effort to fill our patio gardens with as many attractive red flowers as possible. While at Mansion de Chocolate make sure to look out for the hummingbirds as they zoom about the gardens. At any given time we have at least 5 hummingbirds throughout the property. We believe that their favorite plants here are the flowers locally known as ginjibre – the tall reed like plants with single red cone shaped flowers.

Every year the city of Granada dresses up – quite literally – to welcome thousands of horseback riders from each different department (the word Nicaragua uses to refer to their states). These horseback riders, together with beautiful floats, parade throughout the main streets of the city. The parade starts at the national stadium and culminates on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. The Hipica Festival is held in honor of La Virgen de La Asunción, the patron saint of Granada. Each city in Nicaragua hosts their own Hipica Festival to honor their individual patron saint but Granada´s Hipica Festival is widely considered the country`s most colorful and popular.
If you plan to visit in our beautiful city during the second weekend of August, do not hesitate to stay with us at Mansion de Chocolate and enjoy this famous festival and the benefits we can offer, accommodations, spa , pool & MUSEUM OF CHOCOLATE …

July 19th is a national holiday in Nicaragua. The day commemorates the country’s liberation from the Somoza dictatorship that took place 33 years ago. The Somoza family lead the country for two generations from 1936-1979 and included a father and his two sons. They were famous for their cruelty and almost everyone was happy to see them go. Every 19th of July towns celebrate with parades and parties in the central plaza. If you are lucky enough to be staying with us at Mansion de Chocolate on any 19th of July, make sure not to miss the festivities!

We are very proud of the recent publicity we received from La Prensa. La Prensa, one of the two national newspapers in Nicaragua, wrote a full page article recently about Mansion de Chocolate with a highlight on ChocoMuseo.

The museum is free but despite this we do not receive many Nicaraguan visitors, which is too bad. The article highlighted the depth of information available in the museum in Spanish and English as well as the knowledgeable staff – especially Ismael, our chocolate maestro.

Check out the article at http://www.laprensa.com.ni/2012/05/18/activos/101797.

We believe we have a wonderful staff at Mansion de Chocolate (www.MansiondeChocolate.com), including our dedicated housekeeping staff, which typically numbers about four.  We were visited recently by a seventy-year-old gentleman who said he had grown up in the house, and described conditions there in the early 20th century.  The most surprising thing he told us was that around the turn of the century the housekeeping staff numbered sixteen!  There were more maids than people living in the house!

All of the ceramics at Choco Museo (www.ChocoMuseo.com) at Mansion de Chocolate  are custom made for us, and most are made by one family in San Juan de Oriente, a town of potters about 20 minutes from Granada.  We’ve worked together designing cacao themed plates, mugs, and other decorative ceramics.  I was very pleasantly surprised on a recent trip to Washington, DC to see our principal potter’s ceramics for sale at the gift shop at the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian on the Mall.  I snapped a photo and showed it to him at his workshop recently.  The price in DC was about ten times his price at the source.

The rustic style furniture in the breakfast and café area of Mansion de Chocolate is actually made from wood that has been pruned from mature coffee bushes.  The wood is incredibly dense and insect resistant.  This kind of furniture is not very common in Nicaragua, but we found a lovely family in Catarina, a town about 20 minutes from Granada, that makes this sort of furniture.  We subsequently learned that most of our craftsperson’s extended family adopted her techniques and make similar sort of furniture, but we still believe that the original is the best.

Guests going to the 60 foot swimming pool at Mansion de Chocolate  pass through three wall enclosed “patios” (or gardens); the third patio, immediately in front of the entrance to the swimming pool patio contains the old cement “pila”, or wash sink, that probably dates from the early 20th century.  When we renovated the house to turn it into a hotel, some suggested removing it, but we decided that this bit of history made an attractive addition to the setting.  These sorts of cement wash sinks were common in Nicaraguan homes and are still being built in homes constructed today.  Interestingly, the niches in the wall in the back of he pilas were used for ironing boards, and the irons were heated with wood!

Mansion de Chocolate is fortunate like so many classic Granada houses to have many examples of original beautiful cement floor tiles.  These tiles are still made in the traditional way – colored cement is poured into molds and then pressed and set out to cure in ambient temperatures.  There is even a cement tile ‘factory” a few short blocks from Hotel Spa Granada where the classic designs are still being made.

My speculation is that the techniques for making these tiles originated in North Africa, migrated to southern Spain, and ultimately found their way to the New World. I actually recently saw some of the same patterns that one sees in Granada, Nicaragua in Marrakech, Morocco.

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