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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

The city with no centre

NICARAGUA | Sunday, 15 November 2009 | Views [1971]

Ortega propoganda

Ortega propoganda

Welcome to Managua: Nicaragua's capital as well as its heart & soul. When I arrived in Managua off the bus from Rivas I asked a taxi driver as best I could how far Centro Managua is. He didn't give me a solid answer so I thought my best bet was to get to an internet cafe and find a cheap place to stay nearby. Apparently no internet cafes were open becaue it was after 8:00 PM. Inside a shopping mall I asked a security guard where Centro Managua is, and he didn't know. So, I got some chicken nuggets at McDonald's before going back out to the area where the taxi drivers are. A lady then told me as best she could in English where there's a number of lodgings. For a minute or so I was tempted to ask her if I could stay at her house for the night. In Central America I haven't received any spontaneous invitations to spend the night (it's not easy if you're not fluent in the native language). Riding in the back of a ute, we searched around until we found a good hospedaje. It's at a private home and seems very similar to a casa particular in Cuba. I wonder if locals used to rent out rooms in their homes under the socialist government back in the 1980s. The other day I found out some bad news: the border to Honduras is closed for now because of all the political turmoil that's been going on there. There are no ferries that go to El Salvador that I could get on, and if I had more time I could scout around for a boat to hitchhike on. That's a serious dent in my plan to travel home overland from Costa Rica. After putting my stuff away I looked around for an internet cafe because I wanted to call home but everything was closed. However I did get a tasty taco for about 50 cents. The food here is certainly better than in Cuba. When I got back home I took a long shower and then rested.....

The next day I went for a short walk and just wandered. Let's face it, you don't come to Central America for the capital cities. There are no Romes, Parises, or Londons. Even Mexico City likely isn't on par with any striking European capital. The only amazing capital city I've been to anywhere in Latin America is Havana.

After my walk I called my father and told him the dilemma I was in: I don't have a flight out of Nicaragua and the border is closed. He told me he'd deposit some money in my bank account so I could buy a flight home. I was thinking that if I was going to fly I'm just going to fly home because I've been accepted to study in Fiji and I don't want that to go to waste. Online I looked for flights but flights that leave within the next few days are upwards of $700-$1,000 and I can almost fly to Australia and back for that amount of money. I did find a flight home for about $350 that leaves in about a week and a half. When I called and told him he asked why I couldn't get a flight earlier. It wouldn't be a problem for him to give me more money for a earlier flight but I feel really bad about asking him for money and I'd rather stay a few extra days than pay several hundred extra for a flight. Anyways, I thought I'd make a B-line for Bluefields so I can go to the magical Corn Islands. A young man sitting next to me told me he had no problems coming from Honduras but I've heard that coming the other direction isn't a problem (which is strange). Anyways, I wanted to get the hell out of Managua at least for now. With my bags I got on the nearest bus and then caught the interprovincial bus out of town.

Returning a week later after a journey around the beautiful Corn Islands, I was back in Managua. Travelling with my Nica friend Gloria, we got on a local bus and kept a keen watch for an internet cafe. The other night I finally found a CouchSurfer to stay with. In Costa Rica it was easy to find a host. In Cuba it was a bit tricky. However, in Nicaragua it turned out to be extremely difficult. When we spotted an internet cafe we got off the bus. On CouchSurfing I got the phone number of my host. His name is Reynaldo but he goes by "R. Bismarck" because there are four men named Reynaldo in his family. He speaks decent English but Gloria used her fluency in Spanish to talk to him and get directions. Addresses and directions in Managua, like in San Jose, are unusual, but in Managua people often give the names of buildings and landmarks that no longer exist. Oh, and the other night when the taxi driver didn't know where the centre of Managua was, it's because Managua does not have a centre! Managua's downtown was literally ripped out of the ground during the 1972 earthquake. Today it's literally a series of suburbs. Managua is also the greenest of Central America's capitals. Anyways, Gloria and I took a taxi to R. Bismarck's house, which ended up costing 70 cordobas. I think Gloria kind of likes me! She's beautiful yet speaks very little English. My Spanish isn't so good but I feel that it's improved on this journey. Around the corner from the house I got an enchilada with a side of gallo pinto for less than a dollar. Delicioso! On this journey I've now CouchSurfed in all three countries. It turned out that Gloria wanted to stay the night so she stayed here as well.

Next day....my final full day in Nicaragua. I washed up and made a cup of coffee for breakfast. Coffee in Nicaragua isn't nearly as good as in Cuba. Their coffee is to die for! When Gloria left, I helped her out with a little bit of money to get home. Nicaragua is considered the safest of the Central American countries but I hear that Managua has it's share of problems. R. Bismarck is a film student, so I was joining him and his friends while he went to his school to drop off a project. Like a lot of people in Latin America, he doesn't own a car. The public buses in Managua are 2.5 cordobas and come about every five minutes. It's amazing how good the public transport is! In Havana the buses are about one cent, and come about every five minutes. In San Jose they're about 30 cents and come every two minutes or so. In Los Angeles, California they cost about $1.75 and come once an hour or so. Okay, so there isn't much to do in Managua but I was making the most of it as we went to R. Bismarck's school. It's located very near Managua's ruined cathedral. Nobody can enter because it's considered hazardous due to earthquake damage. After R. Bismarck took care of what he needed to do at school we strolled around. Nicaragua's most famous poet is Rubén Darío. A monument dedicated to him is also near the school and cathedral.

Poetry is my forte! Dario initiated the modernismo literary movement and is revered as Nicaragua's great diplomat. Nicaragua's other "deity" is Augusto Sandino: founder of the Sandinistas. Nicaragua is another of those countries that the U.S. demonized due to socialism, and now that Daniel Ortega is back in power, diplomatic relations with the U.S. aren't so good. On just about every wall in Managua you'll see "VIVA DANIEL" or "VIVA LA REVOLUCION" or something along those lines. R. Bismarck, his friends, and I all hung out at the shore of Lago de Managua. Known by its indigenous name Xolotlán, the lake is Nicaragua's second largest. It's quite a breather from the hustle and bustle of Managua. We all got a cacao drink before we all headed toward home. For dinner I decided to walk down to the store and got some hot dogs because I actually wanted to cook something tonight instead of going out to eat. Dinner was quite good tonight. This is my second and final night of staying at R. Bismarck's house. Tomorrow I fly home. I'll miss you Nicaragua. All in all, this was a great journey; two weeks in Costa Rica mostly getting dental work, two fabulous weeks in Cuba, and almost three weeks here in Nicaragua! Marvelous!

Tags: cities


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