Nicaragua is allegedly the safest Central American county. It’s capital, Managua, is home to about 1.5 million people, and that was our destination. Last I left you, we had finally boarded the Hedman Alas bus to Tegucigalpa. As always, the journey took longer than anticipated and we finally arrived at about 8pm. We jumped in a cab to Palmira Hostel, our humble abode for the night, chosen because it sold Tica Bus tickets, which we needed to go to Managua on Saturday.
The taxi ride cost us 150 lempira, which was the first time I was actually able to translate Spanish numbers! Seems our friend Carlos had been charging a bit too much for his taxis, considering this journey was longer and cost a hell of a lot less. We buzzed into the hostel and were greeted by our host speaking broken English. All we needed was a bed, which we got in a private room, again for about the same price as two dorm beds. We still felt rough and whilst our hostel was in a safe area, the nearest food place was McDonald’s, back out on the main road. Thinking we might feel sick because we were hungry, we headed there. Tegucigalpa at night is quite daunting. Especially when we got to McDonald’s, the security guard was stood in the middle of a group of about 50-60 people, just hanging out. That’s what it looked like anyways. The place to hang in Tegucigalpa, is McDonald’s. I mean even when we were inside there were people dressed up to the nines. We figured they were just grabbing a bite to eat before heading out out.
Always the only white people. Some people either haven’t seen a white person or we jut looked odd because the stares we were getting were intense. Needless to say we literally wolfed down some nuggets and took our drinks to go. It didn’t make us feel any better and we now had indigestion. The walk back to the hostel was quicker than to McDonald’s and as we got back in, the host informed us the taxi would go at 730am to take us to the Tica Bus station. Our air con consisted of two rotating desk fans which ended up just blowing the sheet off as opposed to cooling us down, as well as being incredibly noisy it was like trying to sleep on a race track.
Up at 6 on Saturday ready for another long journey down to Managua. The taxi was prompt at 730am and took us to the Tica Bus station. As soon as I got in the ticket office, the guy knew we wanted Managua. We paid, got our tickets and customs forms then waited the hour and a half to board the bus. As we got on we were asked if we wanted Leon or Managua. Managua it was. We handed over our passports, immigration/customs forms and the $15 each entrance fee to Nicaragua.
We still weren’t feeling right for some reason so the bus journey was entirely uneventful. Trying to sleep, trying to watch the TV in Spanish, good old ‘silver linings playbook’ on again, followed by some dreadful Mel Gibson film and ‘Albert Nobbs’ to finish off, a film about a female butler pretending to be a man in Ireland who ends up dying. That’s the gist I got from listening to it in Spanish. My skills don’t include translating films yet.
Customs and immigration was relatively easy as per usual. We got stamped out of Honduras, changed money successfully not getting ripped off and got back on the bus to head to Nicaraguan immigration and customs. This time we had to get all our luggage off, which we haven’t had to do so far. We went in and they took our passports and kept them. We then went to the X-ray machines and put all our luggage on the belt then tried to figure out what to do as we didn’t have our passports. In the end we figured we’d just head back to the bus. We did and weren’t allowed to board yet so we waited in the heat and got taking to an American girl called Timeka from Indianapolis, and also realised the two English party guys from our hostel in San Salvador were on the bus.
Finally the Tica Bus assistant came back out with our passports and tourist cards and we were allowed back on the bus. We dropped some people off in Leon, just at a random gas station then continued 2 hours onto Managua. This time we went into a luggage collection point and it was far smoother and far quicker than any other exits we have had. As always the next task was to find a taxi. $10 or 300 Córdoba to our hostel. The city of Managua was beautiful at night. Sadly I got no pictures but there were beautiful fountains on roundabouts and colourful trees lit up all along the highway.
We pulled up at our hostel, Maracuya Hostel, jumped out and were greeted by two barking dogs and a cat.
Food arrived. The wings weren’t wings, they were just chunky chicken smothered in a really untasteful bbq cheese sauce, but the few chips we got were ok. It’d last us till Sunday anyway. The room was hot and stuffy. The fan was just blowing hot air round the room so it wasn’t a particularly good nights sleep. Up early Sunday morning, I managed to finish my blog about Honduras, do some laundry and eat (reluctantly) banana pancakes. That’s how hungry I was, I actually ate banana. Oh and I also tried camomile tea. Not a fan. Not. A. Fan.
There is a stark contrast in Managua in terms of wealth. As we were walking, we passed the Intercontinental Hotel as well as the Hilton Princess Hotel, followed by a huge shopping mall where everyone appeared to be dressed really nice. Then we passed this
Not feeling that great we got a taxi back to near our hostel. The driver had no idea where he was going so we told him to pull over and we walked the rest of the way. On our way back to the hostel we passed
We enquiries how to get to Leon on Monday and our host also told us about a trip to the Masaya Volcano at 5pm that evening. It would cost $65 and includes transportation, entrance fees and a tour of the town of Masaya. I can tell you, it was worth every cent. Our driver, who I shall call Colin, after Colin McRae, picked us up at 430pm and drove us down to the town of Masaya. This town had tight streets with buildings only about one or two storeys high, still colourful in keeping with the rest of Central America.
Colin’s driving was insane. He was up the arse of the car infront, braking at the last minute, attempting to overtake on corners, I mean he may as well have hand braked turned into the parking spot at the top. We got out the car and headed over the the crater. As we were driving up you could see the bright orange plume of smoke rising from it against the pitch black sky.
Back in the car for the thrilling ride down to the bottom and back to our hostel. Needless to say we arrived in no time…
Until next time…