Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America









One of the things I've learned about renting in Managua is not to expect your landlord to do any repairs. The toilet in our bathroom was having issues as well as our kitchen sink. After complaining numerous times the landlord finally sent a plumber but I had to pay for all of the repairs. Fortunately, in Managua the cost is minimal but it still annoys me to have to pay for work on someone elses property. I also had to pay the property taxes (I think that's what they were anyway) but that's another story.

When the plumber arrived his "truck" was actually a bicycle with his tools roped to the handle bars. He appeared to be clueless as to what the problem was with the toilet so he tore the whole toilet out and took it into the backyard to work on it. In true Nicaraguan fashion instead of replacing the old float he built a "new" one out of 3 broken ones. This failed to fix the problem so he decided somthing must be clogged in the toilet. Since he didn't have a snake he wandered around the neighborhood for a bit and eventually returned with a 3 foot piece of barbed wire he evidently stole off a fence somewhere. He proceeded to use the barbed wire to snake out the toilet scratching half the porcelain off it in the process. The good news, however, was that the toilet was finally functional when he finished.

The next order of business was to fix our leaky kitchen faucet. To accomplish this he merely switched the water line from the cold water valve to the hot water valve. Since we don't have hot water anyway this solved the problem.


Nicaraguan Plumber
Nicaraguan Plumber
Plumbing Supplies
Plumbing Supplies
Princessa Watches
Princessa Watches
The Plumbers Truck
The Plumbers Truck
Daniel Ortega Doll
Daniel Ortega Doll
Tatoos And Cell Phones
Tatoos And Cell Phones

It always seems like even the simplest things can be a monumental challenge in Nicaragua. Another challenge on this trip was to try and find tennis courts. My wife loves tennis. She watches just about every tournament on television, knows all the players, knows all the rules, etc. Unfortunately, she's never once in her life actually played the game. Now, in the development that I live in Pittsburgh we have 2 tennis courts that nobody ever uses. Every public park has tennis courts and several even have indoor courts that are available for minimal fees.

In Managua, however, I was able to locate a grand total of 3 places with tennis courts. To my knowledge there is not a single public tennis court anywhere in Managua. On Saturday we set out to take a look at the options that we had for finding a game of tennis. The first place we tried to go was the Nejapa Golf and Country Club. This one was of particular interest to me since it is home to the only golf course in Managua as well as having several tennis courts. Unfortunately, after asking about 30 cab drivers to take us there not one knew how to get there. Part of the confusion stems from the name of the club. Nejapa is a volcanic lagoon that is located near the US Embassy. This is where the club used to be located. About 30 years ago, however, they moved the club out near the airport on the opposite side of town but kept the same name.

We finally gave up on trying to find Nejapa and decided to go to Club Terraza instead. Club Terraza is located near the Galleria Santo Domingo mall so I figured it would be no problem to find. The only problem was that I forgot that I was in Nicaragua where everything is hard to find. The cab driver took us to what looked like tennis courts from ground level but when we could finally see what they were it turned out they were soccer fields instead. It turns out we were at a private soccer club. It's a great facility but it wasn't what we were looking for.


Managua Soccer Club
Managua Soccer Club
Managua Soccer Club
Managua Soccer Club
Managua Soccer Club
Managua Soccer Club

After talking with the club manager we learned that Club Terraza was up the road a bit so we grabbed another cab and headed there to check it out. When we arrived at the club we were informed that it was for members only and if we wanted membership information we had to come back on Monday. I asked if we could see the club since we were thinking about joining and the answer was a swift NO. The club is very impressive from the outside and from the photos on their website it looks like a first-class operation. They're a little "fuzzy" on what it costs to join so I guess I'll find out on my next visit. I believe it's $75/month but I'm not sure. If that's all it is it would be worth it just to have a pool to go cool off in.

Club Terraza
Club Terraza
Club Terraza
Club Terraza
Church Near Galleria Mall
Church Near Galleria Mall
Shoe Repair Man
Shoe Repair Man
Enough Phots Already
Enough Phots Already
The Toilet Paper Lady
The Toilet Paper Lady
Car Washes While You Shop
Car Washes While You Shop
Manny, Moe and Jack Of Managua
Manny, Moe and Jack Of Managua
Graffiti Near My House
Graffiti Near My House

On Saturday night we went to the movies at MetroCentro Mall. My wifes neice from Acoyapa was with us so we went a little early so she could ride the train at the mall. This train ride would entertain an American kid for about 2 seconds but for a kid from Acoyapa this was the ride of a lifetime. She liked it so much she actually asked if she could go again. You really have to understand the context of her request...Nicaraguan kids rarely ask for anything because %99.99999 of the time they know the answer would be no. For her to ask to ride again I knew what a treat this was for her. It's another example of how going to Nicaragua puts things in the proper perspective for me.


Train Ride At MetroCentro
Train Ride At MetroCentro
Chelsea Is Happy
Chelsea Is Happy
Riding The Train
Riding The Train

On Sunday we decided to try our luck at the only other place in Managua that I know has tennis courts, the Camino Real Hotel. The Camino Real is close to the airport and is also home to the convention center and a Pharaoh's casino. I was kind of shocked in that this was one of the first places where people were actually rude to me in Nicaragua. I asked the girl at the front desk if their tennis courts were open to the public and I was basically told "No, and get the hell out of our hotel if you aren't a guest you aren't allowed here." Of course, that's not exactly what she said but it was close.

Despite the rudeness of the front desk clerk the hotel itself seems very nice. The grounds are beautiful with lots of gardens and they even have a huge cage full of exotic birds in front of the hotel. Since we were in no hurry to go anywhere we stopped for a bit to play with the birds. After our bird watching we decided to check out the casino since neither of us had ever been in it before. The Pharaoh's at the Camino Real is the largest casino in Managua and apparently the one with the tightest security. When we tried to go in the security guard asked to see my wifes cedula. Since she didn't have it with her he wouldn't let us go in.


Bucket O Frescos
Bucket O Frescos
Juniett Pets A Bird
Juniett Pets A Bird
Pretty Birds
Pretty Birds
Pet My Tounge Please
Pet My Tounge Please
Camino Real Hotel
Camino Real Hotel
Pretty Birds
Pretty Birds

After having failed to locate a tennis court and being refused entry to a casino we decided to cut our losses and head home. On the way I snapped some photos of some more of Daniel's propaganda. It's becoming comical to watch how much of a lapdog for Hugo Chavez that Daniel Ortega has become. Chavez says bark, Daniel barks. Chavez's new gimmick is ALBA or the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas. This is a pact between Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and some other piss-poor countries that is meant to be a socialist version of CAFTA. The only difference I see between the 2 is that under CAFTA businesses get rich while under ALBA governments get rich. Chavez is now proposing that ALBA members create a NATO-like force whose expressed purpose is to counter US aggression in Latin America. So far, the only supporters of this idea are Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega. Ortega is walking a tightrope on this one and I wonder when he is going to fall off. Out of one side of his mouth he's endorsing the buildup of an international anti-US fighting force and out of the other he's saying that US-Nicaraguan government relations have never been better. A logical person can't help but see the contradiction here...

ALBA is typical of any organization created by socialists, it sounds great in theory but in practice it's a dismal failure. It's flawed by it's very design. One of the first tenets is that the poorest countries should get the most favorable terms so they can better develop their infrastructure. The problem with that is if your economic situation improves you lose your favorable terms so what's the incentive to improve? The worse your economy performs the better when it comes to receiving aid. ALBA also states that it is particularly concerned with medical care and that drug patents should not be recognized because they prevent cheaper generics from being available. I have to ask what incentive there is to produce new drugs if you are prevented from making any money on them? I do not understand the logic of trying to implement something that has failed everywhere it has been tried. No matter what anyone tells you no human being works for the common good as their first priority. Human beings are motivated by their own interests and Hugo and Daniel are no different no matter how many billboards they put up trying to tell you something else. The reason they created ALBA is because it benefits them, not the poor they claim it benefits. One only needs to look at the oil company Chavez and Ortega created together (ALBANISA) to see that first hand. This company is processing $60 million of crude a month and nobody knows where the money is going because it's "off budget". It certainly isn't going to the poor people of Nicaragua. Daniel and his wife, however, have no problem spending $3500 on sunglasses (on a recent trip to NYC to denounce "evil" capitalists like George Bush) so I think we can hazard a guess as to who is cashing in.


Casino Entrance
Casino Entrance
Viva ALBA
Viva ALBA
Welcome Hugo Chavez
Welcome Hugo Chavez


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