Managua is in Nicaragua, the highlights

Nicaragua is pronounced “Νιγαράγουα” by the locals and by people who can read Greek. Because in English there is no letter in the alphabet that can produce the sound of “γ” (gamma). Nuff said.

Nicaragua was somewhat a strange/ fantasy destination for us when we were doing our travel plans last year in Perth. it was loosely added to our travel list for no reason other than we found the name fascinating. We had no idea what the country was about but before leaving Woody and Pips gave us a Nicaraguan guide book and that got us thinking, hhmmmm….

Red sky at night, its getting cold in Valladolid, Mexico

Then last month whilst in Mexico we saw, the temperature was expected to drop to 7 degrees Celsius at night and decided we needed an out, that’s when Nicaragua rose to the occasion. It has a steady 30 degrees, easy access and beaches, so we packed our shorts and bathers, booked the flight and headed for Managua.

Roosevelt Street, the main high street
Managua’s Roosevelt Street, the main high street West and East sides

Managua the capital was devastated by an earthquake in 1972. When we visited the area I thought they rebuilt it just as it was, on exactly the same spot.  Then I noticed a problem with its dimensions, could this have been the world’s worst engineering miscalculation? No, what in fact I was looking at was a miniature model of old Managua.  Malene could have told me!! but I guess the 5 Cordoba entrance fee should have made it obvious.

Managuas Roosevelt st of 1972
Managua’s Roosevelt st of 1972
The shell of the old Cathedral still stands after the quake. The most interesting sight in old downtown
The shell of the old Cathedral still stands after the quake. The most interesting sight in old downtown (enlarge to see the cracks)
The new Cathedral built in the newer part of town
The new Cathedral built in the newer part of town

Unfortunately the devastated downtown area which is right by the lake is somewhat of a lost space. It’s been filled with a few restored display homes, the miniature replica I mention above, some green spaces with unusual lighting, a discarded airplane, a lot of paved area, a few cafes, plenty of decorative stuff (illuminated steel trees), water jets but the development of the old centre is lacking and has a long way to go, there is a lot of empty space.

Managua these days is spread out, we stayed in an airbnb in the “new center”. It’s a 45 minute walk south from the old centre but doesn’t have that city feel, the roads are wider, messy and fast with a variety of stores but nothing I would call pedestrian friendly and the restaurants and bars are scattered throughout the city. Homes and buildings are hidden behind iron fencing with guards reminiscent of Johannesburg and some areas are off limits for safety reasons, at least for green-horns like us. Managua is a messy town.

Fire jugglers not windscreen washers in new Managua
Fences and guards are the norm
Fences and guards are the norm but I liked the colours of this office

The city sits on the edge of a lake and it’s right in the  path of a string of active volcanoes, two of which are Momotombo and Momotombito (little momotombo). The colouful names conjure up images of bellowing smoke, oozing lava,  dense jungle, exotic birds and wild savages all of which are absolutely true except for the savages. In fact Paolo and Leo, our airbnb hosts were very helpful and informative and made us feel right at home, if not for them we wouldn’t have had such a nice and relaxing time.

Momotombito sits in the lake a short distance away

We spent many hours kicking back at Paolo and Leo’s house and doing some home cooking for a change. We were pleased to see that we could get sumptuous coal-fired BBQ’d chicken not far from there and had a few nice meals with the guys and their friends. Paolo has a business manufacturing super comfy hammocks so there is never a shortage of places to chill indoors and outdoors.

Among friends with Paolo and Leo in one of the hammocks ( Not my hand on Paolo’s shoulder, Leo is not holding Paolo’s leg but Malene is flashing some thigh)

After a few days we left Managua and headed for the beach.



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