Managua – Day 1
After arriving at the airport, realizing my one bag did not arrive due to how late I arrived at Dallas, I went through the final security checkpoint where your bags are x-rayed before you exit out of the baggage claim. Waiting for me were Tim who lives in Nicargua; and my Aunt and nephew, Stephen, who had arrived earlier in the day.
After a taxi ride back to Hotel Los Piños we stayed up and chatted about the journey, certain things to expect in Nicaragua, how not to shock myself on the shower head and that was that.
The first morning we got up, had breakfast of scrambled eggs, gallo pinto, bread and fresh juices; and waited for Tim to arrive. After talking and playing with the new Blackberry PlayBook, the kids – Birmania, Anly and Ary all arrived and we went swimming in the cold waters of the hotel pool.
This was really a day in Managua to get our bearings – so we walked around quite a bit stopping in the Hippo Zone for lunch, going to see Sherlock Holmes en Español at Metrocentro,walking back to the Hotel to pick up our bags stopping at a coffee shop to get out of the rain and then back to Tim and Bernarda’s where we stayed for the rest of the trip.
Christmas gifts were given to the kids, Bernarda and Tim – and thus began the start of Ary, the Nintendo addict.
I was surprised at how cheap the movies were – essentially $30 for 7 of us with drinks. On the other hand, as I determined later in the trip, clothing was on par with North American pricing and video games and electronics were about double the price. The food, though, just amazing, and fresh.
Money, the Cordoba (C$) is exchanged at roughly US$1 = C$22 these days. The money is made of a plastic polymer similar to what you would find in Australia, New Zealand and coming soon to Canada.
Guidebooks I read seemed to imply that US$ were used more and you do see prices in both C$ and US$, however as I learned, Nicaraguans do prefer to take Cordobas. You can also get money changed on corners – a bit faster than going to the bank where you’l wait for ages.
Don’t expect fast net access in country. 640kbps was pretty consistant everywhere we went. Check out the speeds and prices for residential service on Claro.
Masaya – Day 2
Getting up the next morning, after a great breakfast and lunch provided by Bernarda we set off for Masaya – the City of Flowers, but specifically the Volcán de Masaya.
For the whole trip we let Bernarda negotiate the taxis and bus transit, negotiating down the gringo rate. Bernarda is not a woman you want to cross given her life experiences and the fact she knows how to use a machete really well. LOL
Other than the Dina busses donated by Russia, busses in Nicaragua that go between shorter city destinations are typically vans that get filled up with people or smaller busses. Going to Masaya we were on a smaller bus, and returning we were in a van.
Volcán de Masaya is an active volcano – you can see the smoke and smell the sulfur in the air. It features a lookout that you can walk up, and there are also cave tours that you can go on. The caves are interesting – not only were they were they sites of religious ceremony, but they were used for hiding in the civil war, and bodies were also hidden here during the civil war in the 1980s by both sides.
After visiting the volcano and the caves, we stopped for lunch at the visitor centre. I have to say, beer never tasted so good – especially when you’re thirsty. LOL. I will say, the two beers of Nicargua – Victoria and Toña were tasty.
Tim and I went to Metrocentro and I got replacement clothes for my missing bag as we did not know when it would arrive. I have to say the service at Siman, which is a department store which is celebrating 90 years in business, was amazing. It reminded me of what you got at department stores in Canada in the 1980s and earlier. Very much appreciated!
That night we went out and had pizza. During dinner, we received a call from TACA saying that my bags had arrived and that they were at the house. We said we were at the pizzeria up the road and they said they’d drop the bag off there. Yes – imagine any of the Canadian or US-based airlines doing they. They can’t even be bothered to bring my bag up to my front door at the condo here! See why I say TACA rocks?
The pizza we had was the best commercial I ever had!
More gaming on the Nintendo for Ary and Anly, more texting on her phone for Birmanya, more teasing of Stephen to learn Spanish and more chatting for the adults. and then time for bed.