Being brave in Managua
Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
84Trip End Jul 06, 2011
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Where I stayed
I am staying at Managua Backpackers Hostel, it's very safe and secure, the guy who checks me in even offers to lock away my passport and cards. I chose an air-conditioned dorm and find I am the only monkey in the dorm! With a couple of poor sleeps, I need some cool air and for an extra $2, it's worth it.
I refresh myself, and low and behold bump into the guy from Houston who I met in San Jose. He looks at me and says 'don't I know you?' haha, well not really, but you met me in San Jose. He still seems out of it! I order a taxi to the old centre of Managua that was hit by an earthquake in 1972. The taxi will take 15 mins so I pop out to the pool (yes, this hostel has a pool, how great!) and say hello to Jessie from WA and Tamara who is from Vancouver Island, Canada. I mention I'm off to the old city and did anyone want to join me and Tamara did.
The typical scenario in the taxi occurs, instead of just driving us to the old centre, the taxi driver wants to drive us around all day, he even connects me to someone on his phone to clarify what we want to do. In simple terms, can you drive us to the Plaza de Revolution. I repeated this several times (still smiling) and ask for his phone number in case we need a ride later.
Finally we are dropped off, and within seconds young children are pulling at our clothes and bags, wanting us to buy their goods and if not, begging for money. It takes around 4 minutes for them to disappear. Their persistence is commendable but also extremely frustrating.
Very little has been altered in this area since the earthquake, the clock on the cathedral shows the time the quake hit and the large steel pole depicts the epicentre.
Managua city centre is empty, it is a Sunday afternoon but completely empty. I personally feel we have chosen a good time to wander slowly around the old centre. We walk down a hill towards the edge of Lake Managua, beside the lake are various types of bars and clubs, pounding out music as if its1am, not 1pm! Getting to know my new Canadian friend Tamara was becoming extremely difficult near the lake but I feel not many people will have the balls to wander around this area. As we left the hostel, two different people wished us luck, but I always want to formulate my own opinion, whether it is a new city, a film etc.
We walk along the lake away from the music and see some locals hanging around the lake, some were talking, some were sleeping, some were peeing! Tamara spots a horse and goes to greet it, I stay firmly back.
Seeing as most of downtown had been visited we walk back up the hill towards Loma de Discapa. The book recommends a taxi but all seems harmless at the moment. On the way up we pass a couple of spectacular statues and we stand motionless looking at them with the sun beating down behind.
The hill top view is behind a mall and hotel, we pop in for some air con and also it was a perfect time for ice cream. My usual choice of chocolate ended up dribbling all over my rucksack that was attached to my front. I guess at some point I should clean that off. It only costs a dollar to climb the small slope to the top of Loma de Discapa. The view from the top is quite something, I don't think I have ever seen such a green city. Trees are scattered all over the city and it resembles more of a forest/jungle that it does a capital city.
Tamara has just turned 30, she works for Westjet but also has her own company as a florist (working from home). Her passion is design and flowers and she specialises in weddings and flowers for businesses. She has an excellent business mind and a very positive outlook on life and how one can influence and improve someone elses life. A very inspiring person to talk to and even challenged me on what I enjoy and what I will do once I finish my travelling. She came up with one idea and I told her something I've been thinking about for 6 months now. A very beautiful person inside and out, she is in Central America for a month and will fly wherever the wind takes her. She also gets super cheap flights from Westjet so got down to central America for next to nothing. She has travelled India and Greece as well as 15/16 other places. I am always fascinated by the people I meet and again, I stress that I never force the issue of meeting people or needing someone to talk to, I'm sure she could have quite happily hung out the rest of the afternoon by the pool. Anyway, seeing as she lives on Vancouver Island and it's somewhere I've never been, I may alter the end of my trip slightly and knock a day off Vancouver.
We leave the top of the hill, try walk back to the hostel as no-one knows where the hostel is but eventually and luckily flag down a taxi who knows where it is, ahem, we would have walked in the wrong direction.
Back at the hostel, I jumped in the pool and talked to Houston guy Chris. The pool was perfect at 6pm, the sun was gone but the temperature was perfect, not bad for a Sunday afternoon. Jessie, Tamara and I were going to go out for some dinner, and we were also joined by a British girl called Katie. Sadly, she was robbed on Isla de Ometepe. During the night, someone cut the lock on the locker next to her bed and stole everything, crucially, her passport! She was in Managua to try sort out a temporary one to continue travelling or get one to go home and regroup. I was recommending to go home, losing your passport, cards, laptop, jewellery, even all her underwear is just crazy. Poor thing, she seemed in good spirits despite what had happened. I now see why my crazy farmyard hostel in Ometepe had two guards outside!
So the four of us venture out for food, we walk over an intersection and pass some young children who were begging and an old man selling some souvenirs. As we continued walking to a restaurant, a young boy ran towards Katie and Jessie and ripped Katies St Christopher necklace off her neck. He then dropped it and ran away. I wasn't too sure what had happened thinking she had given him a coin or something but he ripped the chain and the medallion hit the floor. Shocking! The restaurant we found was pricey so we walked somewhere else, the same kid seemed to have a memory like a goldfish and came up to us again begging for money. I can't judge him too much, he may have been starving, thirsty and is obviously left to fend for himself robbing people outside the Hilton hotel. We find a mall and eat some crap food for cheap. I see my first glimpse of live baseball as the Red Sox are beating the Yankees at Fenway. I do love my baseball! We wander back to the hostel and hit the supermarket on the way. we pass the same kid again and he goes to his pocket as if he's got a gun or a knife, trying to intimidate us. Maybe the decision to eat out was not the best, but this is Managua. We grab some rum at the supermarket and spend the evening drinking at chatting by the pool in the comfort and safety of this secure hostel.
I go to sleep in a supercool room, though I have a belly full of neat rum! The day has been very interesting and for the first time on my trip very eye opening to some of the dangers that exist in Latin America. This, however, is only a small percentage of what goes on, the majority of people you come across are very kind, friendly and full of humour and happiness.
Miles walked 2.8
Temperature 32C 90F
Day 97 April 11th - After a great night sleep I jump in the pool. So perfect! Tamara and I find some tasty breakfast and I tell her about my plan of visiting a rural village and living in a back to basics style. She likes the idea and asks if she can join me, sure, no problem.
We pack bags, grab a taxi and head to a bus terminal a few miles away. As we leave the taxi we see our bus leaving the terminal and manage to grab the drivers attention to stop the bus, this only happens in Latin America! Some spider man guy put our bags on the roof and we are on our way to Matagalpa. I've been so fortunate with buses, it seems no matter what time I turn up, there is one waiting with my name on.