We booked four nights in Managua. We tend to book four nights when we enter a new country with no concrete plans because you really never know how quickly plans will come together. We needed four nights in San Jose because we ended up scrambling to find a rental car. In hind sight three nights in Managua would have been plenty but we put our time to good use.
The day after our arrival the first good use of our time was spent dodging traffic trying to cross major roadways while we attempted to get to the nearby Metrocentro shopping mall where I finally found a specific pair of Sketchers shoes that I had been looking for in several countries. My original pair were getting, shall we say, sketchy. I bought those shoes in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2017 so they definitely served me well.
Not far from our place were two good restaurants and a nice sports bar. It’s advertised as a sports bar because they had several large TV screens showing sports but it was for the most part a nice local place to have cheap drinks that was frequented by students from the local Universidad Centroamerica. After our afternoon snooze we wandered down to 2Que3 Sports Bar for a few pops and then headed over to the Asados Flor Maria for some really good roasted chicken and steak.
The picture above left is a drink called a Michelada. The drink is a Mexican drink and usually includes beer but we had a variation of this drink in Costa Rica where the alcohol in the drink was guaro, a cane liquor similar to vodka and was served in a shot glass. When we ordered the drink at the bar in Nicaragua we asked if it was a small drink and they replied yes so we assumed it would come in a shot glass. The drink is made with lime juice, tomato juice, assorted sauces and spices and chili peppers. The drinks were served to us in large glasses rimmed with assorted spices and about 2 ounces of a spicy tomato juice. We looked at each other a little surprised at the size of the glass and proceeded to sip the nectar through a straw and give the rim of the glass a little lick. This is different. Then I looked over at the bartender and saw him and several servers watching us intently. The bar tender then came over to our table and politely said, let me explain how this drink works. First, you pour your bottle of beer into the glass, mix it up a bit and then drink it. We had an embarrassing laugh and they had a good laugh.
On our second day in Managua we we spent much of the day exploring Plaza de la Revolucion which can be accessed by walking north on Avenida Bolivar, an electric tree lined avenue which essentially starts with a large image of a smiling of Hugo Chavez framed by two giant light trees. I guess Manuel Nortega and him were buddies.
A fairly short walk leads to Revolution Square or Plaza de Republica which comprises the National Palace of Culture which houses the National Museum also known as the Nacional de la Cultura, the Cathedral de Santiago (the Old Cathedral of Managua) and Casa de la Pueblos ( House of Peoples). The cathedral survived the 1931 earthquake but was heavily damaged by another earthquake in 1972 and was condemned but not demolished.
It was extremely hot outside as we stood in the middle of the square and we were the only people there. Alone. And then my bowels decided to act up on me. Joyce was being the photographer and I was hinting that maybe we should go to the museum sooner rather than later. No rush I said, but I was just being nice. I knew there would probably be a clean bathroom inside and so did my stomach. I was very patient.
We entered the museum, paid the entrance fee and I calmly asked, donde el bano? Just down the hall I was directed.
The bathrooms were really clean. I made my way into a stall, nice and clean. Just one problem. No toilet paper. What luck but there was a lady cleaning the bathroom so I asked, is there any toilet paper? No she replied. I made it very clear to her that toilet paper was very necessary for what I needed to do. Nope. I showed my displeasure and started to leave and then voila, she indicated that she had a small amount of tissue in her pocket. Not enought I exclaimed! I really need to go! Magically she came up with another wad of toilet paper. I thanked her profusely and continued on my mission. Whew!
The National Museum housed an extensive collection of old artifacts, and artworks. It’s paintings date from the pre-columbian period and houses a wide variety of ceramics and other artworks as well as work from renowned Nicaraguan artist Armando Morales and Leoncia Saenz.
On our final day of exploring we walked about 10 km in total in the hot blazing sun. Our first stop was the new Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, aka Zamboanga Cathedral. The cathedral was built to replace the Old Cathedral of Managua, known as Cathedral de Santiago which was irreparably damaged as mentioned in 1972. Heralded as an architectural wonder we were definitely not impressed. Sorry to say it resembled a bomb shelter more than a church and the surrounding gardens were littered with trash.
Our final stop before collapsing in the heat was a visit to the Sandino Monument, a 59 feet high steel statue that can be seen from many parts of Managua and is dedicated to Augusto Cesar Sandino, one of Nicaragua’s most famous revolutionaries. It sits atop a large hill and offers good views of the city and lake Managua.
We made it back to our place, relaxed, went out for dinner and then had nice stroll through the neighborhood.
We enjoyed our stay in Managua. It could have been a little shorter but we made the best of it. Next stop, the beautiful colonial town of Granada.