Thursday, March 8, 2018

Forgettable Managua

"Simply put, Managua is a shambles.  It is chaotic and broken, poetic and mesmerizing, all at the same time. "--Lonely Planet Nicaragua, 2016 edition.  It's also supposed to have a vibrant night life scene.
Fanciful trees on Managua boulevards at night

We agree, but we weren't mesmerized, found no poetry, and we're too old to partake of the nightlife. So why are we here?  Managua is the entry city to beautiful Nicaragua (the next Costa Rica) and we're visiting Salem Peace Corps volunteer Nati Zavala, whom Kathy and I have known since he was a 6-year old at Richmond Elementary.  We're also looking forward to meeting his girlfriend, Jasmine, a fellow volunteer from Atlanta.

A powerful 1972 earthquake devastating much of Managua, killing 11,000 people and leveling 53,000 homes.  Then president Somoza looted all of the international aid money, so not even the national cathedral has been rebuilt.  This energized the Sandinista-led revolution, which was followed by the Contra War.  (Remember the Iran-Contra scandal and Ollie North?  Be sure to watch American Made with Tom Cruise).   As a result Managua is a crazy maze of unnamed streets, shacks that turned to shanties that turned to homes and later buildings without a definable city-center.  Very forgettable.
Enjoying paella with PCVs Arley and Karen
That said, we walked a couple miles to lunch and back from a local market. Walking, however, is not easy because of the lack of sidewalks, the traffic and the crazy drivers. The highlight was a paella dinner at a lakeside restaurant with two of Nati's co-workers who have just completed their two years of service.  It is so fun being around young people!

Our  very pleasant B&B in Managua.  Only $41!
In the pinata section of the market
One really unique--and good thing--about Managua is a series of fanciful illuminated trees and flowers along the major boulevards at night.  Very beautiful, but we hear that they were very expensive to build and maintain.

We're off to the beautiful colonial city of Leon this morning where we'll meet Nati.  One of the girls we met last night will share the cab ride with us.  We've been warned that it will be much hotter than Managua's 90+ temperatures that were tempered by nice breezes.


  1. Love it! Enjoy the rest of your trip. Dad, you are becoming a great photographer with each new trip you are on. I need to learn some writing from you for my blog :))

  2. Thanks. Coming from a photographer like you, that's a real complement!