Nicaragua 2012 – Part 4 – Leave it to Bernarda y Pochomil

Leave it to Bernarda to negotiate the taxis and busses again!



This time, we went to the Mercado de Managua.  Now, a lot of the guide books have implied that the market is a pick pocket’s dream, to be very alert, etc…  Honestly, I think those descriptions take away from this cultural experience.  Yes, again, be aware of your surroundings and you’ll be fine.

Face it, no matter where you are in this world – if you really want to act like a victim, go right ahead, but think – how is it really working for you?

Okay, I’m off my pedestal.

My inner 6 year old giggled

The market is a neat place.  Food, flowers, shoes, a hair cut, trinkets, toys and even electronics – what you need versus what you want is here.  We were here to pick up some home-grown things such as these beautiful wood bowls, that I have been given over time from my aunt, as well a beautiful wood heat pad, for Scott; some Joya de Esteli Cigars for the cigar smokers in my life including myself; and that was pretty much it.  The rum I would pick up in 48 hours at the airport – Flor de Caña.

Be sure to hunt around at the market.  For example, one place was trying to sell me a package of 6 cigars for US$25 and I got the box of 10 Joya de Esteli for C$250 marked down from C$260 without me even negotiating.

If you need to change US$ to C$, there are money changers there, and they are usually fair.

Don’t forget to check out the Bar El Bum Bum.  You won’t see bums there, but you will hear booms of music. *GRIN*  My aunt specifically pointed it out to me, and my inner six year old giggled.


The mercado is also where I tried to order drinks and the order was completely wrong.  Let’s see, I ordered “jugo naranja y medio-litro de Coke por aqui” – In short, orange juice and a 500ml bottle of Coke.

What I got was “jugo manzana y 1L de Coke por aqui” – Apple juice and a 1L bottle of Coke.  And it turns out the glass bottles you have to get poured into a plastic bag in order to get it to take out – which Tim actually wanted.  Oh well, I did my best and hey, if that is the only thing that went wrong while I was in Nicaragua, great!

Needless to say, other times where I ordered drinks didn’t go as horribly, and really I’m laughing about it as I write this.

Pollo Tip Top!

We headed back home and then out for a late lunch at Pollo Tip Top.

Seriously KFC, you were run out of Nicaragua because Tip Top rocks.  Seriously, it wasn’t greasy, it was hot, it was tasty, and the best chips!

And I embarrassed myself (avergonzado, not embarazada which means I’m pregnant) to a certain degree.  I ate too many pieces of chicken – and I’m not sure if I horrified or impressed the kids.  I admit, I was hungry, and that was my fault for not eating more at breakfast – and hey, no one wanted the last piece of chicken.  I rest my case. *GRIN*

At the mall!

From there, we caught the bus to Galerias Santo Domingo to go to the movies to celebrate Bernarda’s birthday where Stephen and I saw Johnny English with subtitles in Spanish.  I highly recommend the film if you’re  a James Bond fan.

Coffee, a bus, and cake later, we were home. I highly recommend the Tres Leches at Casa del Café.


Today was the day we went to the beach:

View Larger Map
Birmania did not go on the excursion to Selva Negra as she was studying English in the equivalent of summer school, so this was a chance for her to spend time with Stephen, her grandmother (my aunt), her dad, her siblings and me.

But firstly, we had to teach Stephen an important lesson in the local language.  We were telling him that this sign means, “Don’t piss your grandmother off”:

"Don't piss your grandmother off" or "Don't walk on the grass"?

Or is it don’t walk on the grass?  I forget!


After picking up the Toyota Hilux that fits five in the cab, and two boys in the back; we stopped of at La Unión to pick up groceries.

A few things struck me about the grocery store – and this is not the first time I walked in to one in Nicargua, but here are my notes:

  • Firstly, if you are what you eat, then I’m not eating pan Bimbo Blanco.  Yes there is a well known brand called “Bimbo”.  Okay, it’s actually not that bad, but still quite funny.
  • The only other place where I have seen milk sold in 900ml bags is Newfoundland.
  • Kellogs is straight up when they call Frosted Flakes, “Zucaritas”!
  • Smoking is not something that’s really taken hold in Nicaragua which is AWESOME for those of us who hate smoky bars, restaurants and such.  The advertising of the cigarette companies down here is pathetic and honestly, they should just go home.  Remember, “fumar es dañino para la salud”.

Once we were done with the groceries, it was off to Pochomil to the Pacific Ocean and the beaches.  The map says 57 minutes, but it’s closer to two hours on roads with potholes bigger than a Mini Cooper and then cobblestone roads.

Bienvenido a Pochomil!

I will never complain about potholes on Canadian roads after winter ever again.

And I do have to say, Tim’s driving was top notch – and I trusted him implicitly.  There are considerations before you drive in Nicaragua, let alone just in Managua.

Firstly, get used to honking your horn. It’s required, especially if you’re passing a vehicle to signify that you’re passing them so if they have swerve to miss a pothole, they’ll wait until you pass.   Honking is also a way of saying thanks as well, not just alerting attention.

Also people will pass each other regardless of if the road has a solid line or dotted line.  Get used to it.

Beyond that, I can’t think of any other key rules of the road.  I wouldn’t say driving was insane or anything out of the ordinary. If you’re walking cross the road, do be aware that the cars will not stop for you and you could very much get run over.

The Pacific

On to Pochomil – I’ve had several chances to swim in the Pacific Ocean – in Cabo, México; Noosa Head, Australia; San Francisco, CA; and Tofino, BC – I’ve never done it – until Nicaragua.  And I will say it’s the warmest water I have ever gone swimming in.  Swimming with the surf was amazing, and I had a great time throwing Ary, Anly and Stephen in it.


Lunch included a whole fish – we left the fish head to Anly who enjoys such delicacies.

We stopped on the way back to have sandwiches made by be – Jamón y queso con lechuga, tomate y mostaza.  Incidently, lechuga became a favourite spanish word for the rest of the trip, and upon returning to Canada, I said to Scott, “Hola me poco lechuga” – “Hello my little lettuce” *GRIN*.

Heading Home

Océano Pacific

That was my final night in Managua.  I gathered my things, got dressed up in my clothes for travelling back to Toronto, said my goodbyes in the form of a small speech, and received a new hammock for Scott and me as a gift from Bernarda and Tim.  I gave Bernarda my Spanish > English phrasebook which she used tonight:

Bernarda: “con mi spanish, en la página 117. jajaja. that was amazing.!!!! jajaja”

Iain: Eso fie increíble JEJEJE

Early in Managua

I can tell we’re going to have a lot of fun talking back and forth.  Admittedly, I am being quite shy, but it’s something I will need to get over.

I spent the night at a Best Western that is directly across from the airport.  At US$80 a night, it can’t be beat when you have to be at the airport at 4:00am to check in.

Mexico City

Much thanks to the agent for giving me exit row seating on all of my flights.

One bottle of Flor de Caña and I was set for El Salvador, Mexico City and returning home to the cold temperatures of Toronto.

I highly recommend not connecting in Mexico City as you do have to pick up your bags, go out of security, and check in again with your airline.  It feels like you’re walking through a rabbit warren and for miles.  But that said, it was nice to get the exercise in.

Muchos gracias Bernarda, Bermania, Anly, Ary y Tim. Hasta próximo tiempo.

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