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What is there to do in Managua, Nicaragua?

 
 
Reply Tue 18 Dec, 2007 08:29 pm
I'd planned to take a visa trip (on a tourist visa I am required to leave the country for at least 48 hours every 90 days) to Panama, and while waiting for my girlfriend's passport my timeframe became kinda tight (i.e. I am an illegal alien as of yesterday).

The passport arrived today and I was ready to go, only to find that the prices to Panama had tripled by air and no buses are available till the 24th. So I decided to change my plans and go to Nicaragua, as I was able to find a tickets that are only double the price.

Unfortunately, because I need to leave the country already I only have the 25th as an option. So I'm going to spend Christmas in Managua. Panama is more of a tourist destination, and I had ideas of what to do there (visit the canal, shop etc) but I have no idea what to do in Nicaragua for such a short time (2 days).

Anyone know Nicaragua? And beyond that, any recommendations (I have friends who've lived there who have nothing to recommend)?

If not, I'll just sleep it off and get back home but I'd like to do something with the trip if there's something to do.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 18 Dec, 2007 08:49 pm
Some nice mammoth footprints?

(wiki) Museum of Acahualinca
Managua is also home to the Museum of Acahualinca where the Ancient footprints of Acahualinca, fossilized Paleo-Indian footprints made some 6,000 years ago, are engraved in volcanic ash. The museum "Museo Sitio Huellas de Acahualinca" is located in west Managua in the Acahualinca neighborhood. In addition to the footprints, the museum also displays artifacts found in other localities around the country. Artifacts such as mammoth footprints, pre-Columbian tools, a skull from León Viejo, and a small collection of pottery among other archaeological objects. [25]

Looks like there are casinos and movie theaters. Some sort of Julio Cortazar museum (I thought he was mainly from Argentina... and lagoons within the city.

Clearly, I've no idea what I'm talking about here.
I know you can easily look at wikipedia - I checked because I thought it might give me some ideas, but, no.
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Dec, 2007 11:09 am
Well, I know enough to know it's not going to be easy to have fun there. Here's an excerpt of a travel review from Yahoo:

Quote:

Hotter than an oven and crisscrossed by anonymous highways, there can't be a more tourist-unfriendly capital than MANAGUA. Less a city in the European sense than a conglomeration of neighbourhoods and commercial districts, Managua offers few sights or cultural experiences of the type you can have in other Central American cities - in fact, most visitors are so disturbed by the lack of street names or any real centre to the city that they get out as fast as they can. Being a tourist in Managua does require some tenacity, but there are things to enjoy, and as Nicaragua's largest city and home to a quarter of its population, the city occupies a key position in the nation's economy and psyche. Unfortunately, it's difficult as a tourist in Managua to enter into "real" Nicaraguan life unless you have a local contact, due both to the lack of public spaces and meeting places like cafés or galleries and the fact that Managuans' social life is based in their own neighbourhoods, in churches, discos and playgrounds.


I guess the easiest thing to do is find a nice hotel and hole up.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Dec, 2007 11:23 am
Gee, that does sound like a dismal draw.

Years ago, a lab owner I once worked for had a daughter working in Managua.. and then one day I came to work and he was out of his mind with worry, there had been this huge earthquake. Maybe that earthquake and ill planned reconstruction after is related to whatcha get as visitor, or resisdent, now.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Dec, 2007 11:26 am
Well, there's a volcano national park nearby. Wonder what's in Granada...

http://www.m-w.com/maps/images/maps/nicaragua_map.gif
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 19 Dec, 2007 11:32 am
Rent the movie Under Fire? (which brings up Leon... not too far away, at least on the map - wonder how that is)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086510/






In the meantime, both Granada and Leon are looking more interesting than Managua on wiki...
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Jan, 2008 02:51 pm
Well, I'm in Managua now, and there's really not much to do. I'm going to spend most of the time in the hotel pool, restaurant and bar.

I'll probably venture out to explore but a buddy of mine who has family in Managua and has visited assures me that even finding decent restaurants will be a challenge.
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 05:00 pm
Today I went to Managua's MetroCenter, which is basically a small shopping mall. I also went to Plaza Inter and then to Nicaragua Lake but the plaza had little more than a strip-mall to offer and the lake didn't have anything special to offer either and there were only a handful of people there at all.

So I sat at a lakeside restaurant and shared two local beers with my girlfriend, Victoria and Toña and went to a local supermarket, which was the most interesting thing I saw to do here.

It really is true that this isn't a great tourist city. I have heard good things about other parts of Nicaragua but the capital isn't for tourists. Hell, the taxi drivers were stumped when I asked for a restaurant (nothing special, just local food) and we ended up eating Pizza Hut today (yuck!).

Anywho, I'll spend the rest of the day in the hotel pool and tomorrow I'll go see a movie or something. But I'm just eager to get home and see my dog (who cried like a baby when I dropped him off at the pet hotel).

Some observations:

Despite being much much poorer than Costa Rica, the roads are much better. Costa Rica has some of the worst roads I've ever seen.

The capital looks poorer and less developed than I expected, and I already knew Nicaragua was the poorest (or second poorest with Honduras) country on the North American mainland. But it really looks like I expected its smaller cities to look like, not its capital.

Anywho, Nicaragua and Costa Rica share an uneasy relationship and one good thing is that my girlfriend better appreciates their plight (Costa Rica's population is nearly 25% Nicaraguan immigrants and there is a lot of tension and disrespect for Nicaraguans in Costa Rica).

"If you lived here wouldn't you seek a better life in Costa Rica too?" I asked.

"I'd be running to the border," came the reply.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 05:17 pm
So how was the supermarket? Not to laugh, really. It makes me want to read more recent material on Nicaragua.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 06:14 pm
Managua has a reputation as a hellhole.
Actually, none of Nicaragua seems touristically attractive. Had a few friends who travelled or lived there in the 80s, the first years of the Sandinista revolution.

One of them went to Costa Rica later, entered a bar and asked, as if he were in Nicaragua: "Do you have beer?". He was very surprised with the reply: "Yes, sir. What brand do you prefer?"
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 06:37 pm
ossobuco wrote:
So how was the supermarket?


It was a Palí supermarket, which there are plenty of in Costa Rica but the reason the supermarket was interesting to me is because I think supermarkets are the most interesting place in any country.

A Japanese friend of mine in San Diego had family visiting and the first thing on her list to show them in San Diego was a supermarket. It really is interesting for people who appreciate cultural nuances. I've always preferred that kind of immersion to visiting tourist landmarks and the like.

It's hard to describe but Pizza Hut is pretty much the same the world over, so are airports and hotels. But supermarkets are great places to get insight into a culture. The insight I got was that Costa Rica and Nicaragua differ very slightly. Things are much cheaper here than in Costa Rica, where a lot of things are more expensive than in the U.S but the products are similar and marketed very similarly.

There were other interesting tid-bits but it's hard to explain, for example one really interesting thing for me is to see something like Ritz crackers in much less elegant packaging (and much cheaper pricing, of course). It was also interesting to see which multi-national companies had strong footholds and how "local" they went.

Anyway, it was also interesting to see my girlfriend have to pick between a slightly different assortment of feminine products (same damn stuff, different sub-brands). I kept pointing to the Huggies (this alone was interesting to me, as disposable diapers have made big inroads in Latin America since I first lived in a Latin country) but she didn't think it was as amusing.

I tried to eat Nicaraguan food as well but it's not much different than Costa Rica (biggest difference I noticed so far was using red beans instead of black beans in the Gallo Pinto dish) and is almost as Americanized as Costa Rica (e.g. in Metro Centro there were more American fast food restaurants than local restaurants).

One refreshing thing is that the locals are much less "predatory" on tourists than in Mexico or Costa Rica. I think it's mainly just because there are so much less of them around. Taxis have been remarkably honest with me.

Anywho, this really isn't a very good place to visit. I'm sure if I spent a few months here with locals I'd find it more interesting but I'm not as adventurous as I normally would be since I'm traveling with my girlfriend.

I doubt I'll be back to Nicaragua, not because it's so bad but just because there's so much else to visit and my next close trips will probably be Panama or Colombia (and Mexico again since it was very very interesting) but if I do come back I'd like to see Granada.
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Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 06:41 pm
Robert, I have a friend / customer who is spending a year in South America just wandering and taking pictures. I think he is way South now.

He has a running blog that I can PM you tomorrow, and I can ask him about things to do there.

How much longer are you there?

RH
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 06:45 pm
I remember my first ipermercato (and maybe my only one) in the times I was in Italy, for all the reasons you say (probably in Firenze). Remember my first protest against an ipermercato, not that I was protesting, but talking to the protesters, in Lucca.
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 06:46 pm
Ah, 2 interesting things I noticed were some kids playing makeshift baseball in a very third-world way. Hard to explain but it was the equivalent of the Brazilian kids who play soccer with a ball of newspaper and using their shoes as the goalposts. T'was cute.

I'd never personally seen baseball played outside of Japan and the US so it was kinda cool. I also noticed a lot of basketball courts and didn't see anyone playing soccer. But then again, no latin country I've seen reminds me of soccer-obsessed Brazil. I remember watching some kids play soccer in TJ and noticing how bad they were in comparison.

I don't know why, but even in soccer-dominated countries the comparative indifference to soccer (with Brazil as the comparison) always surprises me.

Ah, another thing that was interesting was a pin-up poster in the bar with a topless woman. It wasn't interesting because of the nude girl but more so because of the fact that it was considered appropriate by the bar owners. My girlfriend was shocked as you don't see that in Costa Rica which I hadn't noticed.

In Brazil, nude posters and calendar girls are in every single mechanic, warehouse and any male-dominated workplace and I hadn't noticed that Costa Rica wasn't like that till she pointed out the poster.
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 06:52 pm
Rockhead wrote:
Robert, I have a friend / customer who is spending a year in South America just wandering and taking pictures. I think he is way South now.

He has a running blog that I can PM you tomorrow, and I can ask him about things to do there.

How much longer are you there?

RH


I have tomorrow, and that's not enough time to do anything unless it's in town. Plus, I'm not in South America. And if the locals can't help me with suggestions (so far the best suggestion was to go up on a tall building and look over the city) I'm not sure anyone can.

I'm pretty much resigned to do a little more local immersion tomorrow and go home.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 06:53 pm
Poster, like 24 x 36 (I'm into details, eh) or a typical garage (etc.) calendar?
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Rockhead
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 06:57 pm
Wish I'd seen this thread sooner, I don't have the link at home.

He drove down from the states, and spent some time there on the way, I remember the pix.

I will send you the blog anyway if you like. It is very earthy and real, and he had some interesting border troubles etc. He's touring in an old VW microbus with his dog...

I will ask him if I can just post it on the forum.

RH
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 07:22 pm
ossobuco wrote:
Poster, like 24 x 36 (I'm into details, eh) or a typical garage (etc.) calendar?


I really don't know. My girlfriend told me not to look. ;-)

Rockhead wrote:
Wish I'd seen this thread sooner, I don't have the link at home.

He drove down from the states, and spent some time there on the way, I remember the pix.

I will send you the blog anyway if you like. It is very earthy and real, and he had some interesting border troubles etc. He's touring in an old VW microbus with his dog...

I will ask him if I can just post it on the forum.

RH


No worries, I'm fine with just hanging out now and don't have time to do anything real fun. I heard there's a volcano relatively nearby where you can drive to the top and look inside, but that's not too interesting to me since I've seen many volcanoes and can fly over an active one back home in Costa Rica.

Anywho thanks for trying, feel free to send/post the blog if you can as it will probably be interesting to me for other reasons. I'm surprised he can get his dog through the borders, sounds like a wild trip.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 07:27 pm
Robert Gentel wrote:
Ah, 2 interesting things I noticed were some kids playing makeshift baseball in a very third-world way. Hard to explain but it was the equivalent of the Brazilian kids who play soccer with a ball of newspaper and using their shoes as the goalposts. T'was cute.

I'd never personally seen baseball played outside of Japan and the US so it was kinda cool. I also noticed a lot of basketball courts and didn't see anyone playing soccer. But then again, no latin country I've seen reminds me of soccer-obsessed Brazil. I remember watching some kids play soccer in TJ and noticing how bad they were in comparison.

I don't know why, but even in soccer-dominated countries the comparative indifference to soccer (with Brazil as the comparison) always surprises me.


Nicaragua is a non-soccer country. I believe there is only one town where it's played (Chinandega?). Baseball is the sport over there (as in Panama, but more so).

And, BTW, Tijuana is a non-soccer city, even with the storming of soccer on national TV. Baseball and basketball are the thing, there.
Soccer in Mexico is a game of the central and western highlands, which has penetrated somewhat recently (a few decades) in the North and South, and somewhat in the Gulf region. The Nortwest and the Yucatan peninsula are still baseball land (but not for very long, I fear).
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Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jan, 2008 07:47 pm
fbaezer wrote:

Nicaragua is a non-soccer country. I believe there is only one town where it's played (Chinandega?). Baseball is the sport over there (as in Panama, but more so).


Hmm, I knew they were a baseball-playing country but didn't know they weren't a soccer-playing country. I thought baseball was a secondary sport.

Quote:
And, BTW, Tijuana is a non-soccer city, even with the storming of soccer on national TV. Baseball and basketball are the thing, there.


Ahh, that makes sense given the proximity to the US. But even in soccer-playing Costa Rica the passion is just not the same as Brazil, but that probably has more to do with Brazil than the other countries. Them Brazilians are absolutely crazy for their "foo-chee-bol".
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