Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America

Later in the evening we had to head over to the TicaBus terminal to pick up Juniett's mother. She lives in Costa Rica and was coming in for the wedding. This trip would illustrate many of the idiosyncrasies of life in Managua. The first bit of fun was just finding the bus terminal. As with most businesses in Nicaragua the sign is conveniently hidden so that you can't possibly see it from anywhere. When we finally did find the bus station we were told that the bus was still sitting at the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border. It seems the power was out at the border so the immigration office was closed. No one was sure when the bus would arrive because the phones weren't working either. On the way back to the apartment we ran into a road closure and had to find another route. In Managua they don't do crazy things like put up signs when they close a road, instead, they just pile a load of dirt in the road so you can't use it. This is particularly challenging when you run into one of these at night since dirt isn't the most reflective material in the world...

Here's some video of the ride...

Funky Statue

The NicaBus Terminal

Managua Street

Oh, There's The Sign

Nice Casa

It's For Sale, Whatever It Is...

Get Your Cashews Here

Oops, Road Closed

Colegio LatinoAmericano
The next bit of excitement came when I got pulled over by the cops. Well, not exactly "pulled over", more like flagged down. In Nicaragua most of the cops don't have cars or even motorcycles. They stand by the road at intersections and when they decide you have committed an infraction they run out and point at you to pull over. My infraction apparently was being a gringo driving a nice car. Actually, I was told that I had failed to stop at a yield sign. OK, last time I checked yield didn't mean stop but according to the cop it does. He was very nice when he informed me that he was taking my license and that I needed to go to the bank the next day to pay the fine. Then, once the fine was paid, I could go to the police station and try and get my drivers license back. I politely explained that I needed to go to Acoyapa the next day for my wedding and I really didn't have time to spend half a day tracking my license down. Wouldn't you know that this friendly cop offered to do it for me if I paid him 100 Cordobas ($5) cash. It was so nice of him to do that for me. It was amazing, he was so friendly that after I gave him the 100 Cordobas he forgot to even write the ticket.

The Lottery Office

A Nicaraguan "Speed Trap"

Sandinista Hangout
After my run in with Juanny Law we went to Mercado Huembes to do a little shopping. There are several mercados in Managua and they are something to see. Oriental is the largest market (in fact, it's the largest in Central America) but it's horribly dangerous. My girlfriend expressly forbids me from going there and when a Nica tells me a place is dangerous I'll take their word for it. It's rumored, however, that you can buy anything there from laundry soap to AK-47's. Mercado Huembes, on the other hand, is a bit tamer and a LOT safer. It's still a huge market, however, and the prices on things are incredible. You can walk around in there for hours and not see everything. One of the things that you need to watch out for, however, is counterfeit merchandise. A good majority of the "name brand" items there are knock offs. This especially applies to cigars. There were at least 30 stores selling Cuban cigars and all of them were fake. I honestly believe that most of the fake Cuban cigars in the world are produced in Nicaragua.

Here's some video of mercado Huembes...

Juniett Multitasking

Mmmm, Candy

Mercado Huembes

That's A Lot Of Cookies

Mercado Huembes

Security Guards

Rum Holsters

Get Your Fake Cuban Cigars Here

Colorful Boxes

Mercado Huembes

My Aunt Joyce

Mercado Huembes

Mercado Huembes

The Bootleg Video Game Store

The Machete Stand
Since my Aunt had never been to Managua before I took her for a little tour of the city. I sometimes forget what a shock Managua can be for someone that has never been to Central America. We took a ride over to the Malecon area to see the cathedral, presidential palace, etc. but the big topic of conversation was the plastic tent city that's there. It's really quite a sad story. The people that live there used to live on a banana plantation. The government sprayed the crops with something that poisoned all of the people so now they are sick and can't work. They came to Managua for medical care but there are too many of them to keep in the hospital and there's nowhere to put them. That's why they've been living in a plastic tent city in a park for a year.

On the lighter side, my Aunt found BIMBO brand bread to be quite hysterical. She was also quite delighted by the fact that you can drink a beer in the grocery store and no one cares. In fact, you can drink and drive if you want in Managua. Not that I recommend it but it's something to consider if you're driving around in Managua one day.

Plenty Of Parking

Soldier With AK47 Statue

Ruben Dario Theatre

Plastic Tent City

My Aunt Enjoys A Beer In The Grocery Store

She Found BIMBO Bread Quite Amusing

My Crazy Aunts

Paying For The Empty Beer

Packed Bus

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