Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Capital City

On Thursday night, we were taken in to the city in the two non-descript white Peace Corps vans. Our drive, Don Douglas, is a very nice man who apparently wears a hat that says “MOM”. He is the delivary driver for any of our packages and letters, I gave him a letter for my parents earlier that day since they don’t use the internet.
Managua is a pretty dangerous city at the moment. There are special peace corps taxis we take when doing PC business in Managua; no volunteers are placed in the Capital city. At one point we came to an intersection and one of the staff asked us to close all windows, if we could stand the heat.
Riding through the city, I noted it had a very Latin feel, with the bright colors and Spanish everywhere.  It was pretty impoverished, with the dirt of big cities and small, close-together houses. There are a lot of large “rotundas”, or BIG grass circles making rounded intersections, and they all have statues of some famous historical figure. Most have to do with the revolution that ended not 10 years ago after 30 years, a time which defined Nicaragua as it is today.
Even though it’s a “modern” city, we are still a long way from the world of industrialized, first world nations. I saw a herd of about 20 goats crossing a main street, being herded by a man on a bicycle. Oh! There are Christmas light EVERYWHERE and it’s September… they weren’t put up early, we were told the lights are kept up all year round and then taken down in November and put back up in December. No one knows why; this I have to see.
We stopped at a nice park area with a huge statue of Sandino (leader of the Sandinista rebels and current party still in power) overlooking Managua and its lake. The mountain vistas in the distance and the palm trees… standing at that lookout is when I really felt I was in Nica. I was seeing things I’d only seen in pictures.
Later, we went to another little touristy spot on Lake Managua, with little grass roof tiki huts and a bar. At both locations, we had to pass through a gate with one or more armed guards. I saw soldiers throughout the city, but there were private security. A beer cost 20 cordobas, which I think is the equivalent of a dollar. We were given 200 cordobas spending money for the week, which may be $10. Good thing I’ve always been a good at budgeting! When was the last time you survived on $10 a week, just for fun spending money?
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