Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America

My trip started with a stop in San Salvador, El Salvador. I didn't see anything other than the airport but I took some photos and videos on the flight in. If I wasn't getting married soon I would definately be making a trip to San Salvador based on the girls I saw in the airport but I digress...

Flying over San Salvador, El Salvador...

Landing In San Salvador...

Flying Into San Salvador

San Salvador, El Salvador

San Salvador, El Salvador
Once again I had another great trip to Nicaragua and it ended all too soon. The more time I spend in Nicaragua the more I love it there. I'm not quite sure I could live there full-time but for 10-12 days at a time it's wonderful. There are some things that definately take time for an American to get used to. First off, they shut our power off for at least 3 hours every day because they don't have enough capacity. There are rolling blackouts throughout the country every day. We are actually fortunate in that we live in an upscale neighborhood so the power is "only" off for 3 or 4 hours. In some of the poor neighborhoods the power is off for 10-12 hours a day. We also don't have water periodically, the cable goes out several times a week, etc. Basically, the infrastructure in Managua isn't exactly what I'm used to.

The interesting thing about the power situation is that it actually becomes what I'll call a "community building" activity. When the power goes out everyone hangs out outside and socializes because it's too hot (and dark) to stay in the house. I've lived in my house in Pittsburgh for over 2 years and I think I know 3 of my neighbors. I've lived in my house in Managua for 20 days and I know about 100 of my neighbors or vecinos.

Anyway, my first stop in Managua is always at the Eskimo store. I don't know if the ice cream is that good or it just tastes good because it's so hot in Managua. At any rate, hardly a day goes by where I don't have an Eskimo ice cream cone.

Mmmmm, Eskiiiiimo

My Favorite Place In Managua

Juniett Loves Eskimo Too

It's a minor miracle that the power even functions at all the way things are wired. I happened to notice that the power lines coming into my house were being held up by a rope tied to a branch in a tree. Basically it looks like when they ran they line it was too long so rather than shortening it they just tied it to a tree. On a positive note my house is equipped with high quality Eaton electrical products, the #1 name in the electrical industry, so at least I know I'm being protected by the best. You'll never guess what company I work for... ;)

Chinese Liscense Plate?

The Best Electrical Products

Power Lines Tied To A Tree

Code Violation?

Jesus Lives In Managua?

Price Smart

Much of this trip was spent shopping for supplies for our upcoming wedding. When you need to buy a lot of stuff the best place in Managua is PriceSmart. It's basically identical to a Sam's Club or Costco store in the US. The prices, however, are incredible. I bought an air conditioner, for example, and it was $100 cheaper than the same one in the US. Another thing I noticed was cigarettes are $10/carton (50 cents a pack) for Marlboro's. I'm not a smoker but I know that's pretty cheap...

I shot some interesting video inside the grocery store. It's not every day you see a testicle section at the meat counter but they have them in Managua. The other interesting thing is the biggest section is the rice & beans aisle. I never knew there were so many different kinds of rice and beans.

Inside The Grocery Store...


Roadside DVD Salesman

Need A Kite?

Managua's Cathedral

Heavy Security At The Supermercado

Juniett Grocery Shopping

When driving around in Managua you see some interesting sites. One of the things that really irritates me are the giant billboards with Daniel Ortega on them. There are hundreds of them all over Nicaragua and they must have cost a small fortune. Maybe if they spent some of that money on, oh, say keeping the freaking lights on or the water running then I might believe that Daniel was a friend of the poor. Poor people need jobs not billboards and slogans. As crappy as the infrastructure is, Nicaragua is never going to draw any kind of foreign investment they desperately need until they improve it. That doesn't seem very likely when the leaders stated goal is the follow the "Cuban model" as a roadmap to prosperity. I guess nobody's noticed that Cuba isn't exactly the Hong Kong of the Carribean...

One of the other things you see plenty of are accidents. Simply stated, Nicaragua is challenging to drive for several reasons. There are very few road signs so you pretty much need to know where you are going. Maps aren't much help since nothing is marked. There are many intersections that can best be described as free for alls since there may not be any stop signs or traffic lights. (or the power may just be out so they aren't working) Another challenge is rotondas. There are dozens of them in Managua and there are rules on what lane you need to be in, how to enter one, and how to exit one. Deviate from the rules and you take your life in your hands. Another challenge is that often times there will be a small child or someone in a wheelchair sitting in the middle of the highway begging. In traffic or at night it's next to impossible to see them until you are on the verge of running them over. (There's a TV commercial running in Managua right now that says over 200 people a year are killed walking in the streets of Managua) All these things make driving in Managua quite an adventure.

Once you get outside of Managua you will find that the main roads are surprisingly good. There are next to no vehicles on the road so traffic is rarely a problem. Driving at night is difficult because the roads don't have any lines on them in many places and there are no street lights. This makes it difficult to see the drunk staggering home in the middle of the road or the guy riding his horse in the middle of the road. Probably the biggest hazard are speed bumps. For some odd reason they have massive speed bumps in completely bizarre locations. Unlike in the US, they are rarely painted yellow so they are next to impossible to see until you're about to slam into them at 60 MPH.

My Hood...

I Don't Do Mornings Well...

Hanging Out

Cool Graffiti

Crash Scene

Motorcycle Down

Daniel Likes Poor People...

The Big Chicken Store

La Farmacia

My "Hood"

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