Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America








I arrived at the airport in Managua around 12:30 in the afternoon. Since there are very few flights (ours was the only one) going in and out of Managuaís airport is a breeze. The entire process to clear customs, immigration, and baggage claim took less than 30 minutes. The immigration fee is $5 and you pay in cash when they stamp your passport. I decided it would be a good idea to use the bank machine at the airport to get some Cordobas (local currency) while I had a chance. Well, it wasnít such a great idea since the bank machine, to my surprise, spit out more US dollars that I already had plenty of. My hotel was supposed to have a cab waiting for me but somehow that got fouled up and no one was there to pick me up. I grabbed an airport taxi ($17) and I was on my way. The ride to the hotel provided my first up-close look at Nicaragua and it was pretty much what I expected, a third world country. The first clue that youíre in the third world is that there are horse-drawn carts all over the place here. The second clue is the street vendors at every red light. There are more here than I have seen anywhere and thatís saying something considering the number of countries Iíve been to. They sell everything from stalks of sugar cane to plastic bags filled with water.

I got to the Hotel El Almendro ($55/night) around 1:30. My room was small but it had cable TV with many US channels, fast wireless internet, air conditioning, and a very comfortable bed. In other words, everything I needed. The only drawback is the room didnít have a safe but other than that it was perfect. The hotel is very nice, clean, has a small pool, and free breakfast in the morning. Itís also in a perfect location within walking distance of MetroCentro (the mall), several convenience stores, casinos, grocery stores, etc.

After unpacking I took a walk to the convenience store and bought some water, diet coke, etc. I also picked up a prepaid Nokia cell phone for $25. Why did I buy a cell phone? I figured it was pointless to call and get directions to where I wanted to go myself, it would be easier just to have a phone and let the cab driver call. One of the oddities about Managua is that like San Jose none of the streets are marked. Unlike SJ, however, most of the streets in Managua donít even have names. Everything is referenced by landmark and half of the landmarks donít even exist anymore just to make things more interesting. The word ďeastĒ doesnít exist here either but thatís another storyÖ



Airport In Atlanta

Airport In Atlanta

Airport In Managua

Horse Drawn Cart

First Glimpse Of Managua

Daniel Ortega Billboards Are Everywhere

Praying At A Rotunda Is A Good Idea

Street Scene

First Meal In Managua

Fountain At Rotunda Ruben Dario

Rotunda Ruben Dario

MetroCentro Mall


I decided to walk over to the mall since it would be easier to grab a cab there. Walking in Managua is a treat. Always remember that the biggest thing in the road has the right of way (and youíre never the biggest thing in the road) and youíll be fine. Also, there are plenty of uncovered storm sewers, places with no sidewalks, etc. so watch where your step in Managua. Sure enough there were plenty of cabs at the mall but none of them had ever heard of the place I wanted to go. I had one of them call on my new phone and we were on our way. It turns out it was Caribean Morena was right down the street. It's a cool little place to visit on your first stop in Managua.



Nicaraguan Cordobas

Nicaraguan Cordobas

Local Bar

Nice Neighborhood

New Cathedral

Street Vendors At MetroCentro

Volcanoes In The Distance

Watch Your Step!

Cool Graffiti


I should note that I booked the Hotel El Almendro online and didn't know a lot about the place before I got there other than what was on their website. I hate chain hotels and I like to stay in local places whenever I can so it seemed like a good choice. When we pulled up I thought that I had made a giant mistake. The hotel is surrounded by a giant wall topped with razor wire and looks pretty crappy from the street. Once inside, however, it's absolutely beautiful. There are courtyards with fountains and tropical plants everywhere. The staff is outstanding and will take care of anything you need. You should be aware that no one speaks English here so if you don't speak Spanish it might not be the place for you. The only bad thing about the place is that the rooms don't have safes but other than that I found it perfect.

I should comment that the El Almendro is $55/night and that's fairly expensive for Latin America. The hotels in Managua, however, are very expensive for a reason I can't quite figure out since there is next to no tourism there. The Intercontinental, Hilton, etc. were all $150-$200/night so in comparison the El Almendro is a bargain.



Hotel El Almendro

Hotel El Almendro

Hotel El Almendro

Hotel El Almendro

Hotel El Almendro

Hotel El Almendro

Hotel El Almendro

Hotel El Almendro

Hotel El Almendro

Hotel El Almendro

Hotel El Almendro

New Cathedral


Click Here For Pics Of Day 2 In Managua


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