Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America

I was only back at the hotel for an hour when my phone rang. It was my amiga Junieth and she asked if she could come over. This was quite a surprise because for reasons I don't care to share she was pretty mad at me the week before. It turns out the whole thing was a language barrier issue. At any rate, 10 minutes later her smiling face was at my door.


It was now Sunday and time to leave Managua. My flight left at 1:40 so based on my previous experiences at the Managua airport I figured I had plenty of time to enjoy my final day. I got up early and went for a walk then came back and enjoyed the pool for a bit. I had Johnny pick me up at 10 and we did a little more sightseeing and then had a nice lunch at Cocina De Dosa Hayd. (near the Hilton) Afterwards, we stopped at one of his hangouts called Fenix and he showed me the place. It's a cool little club even though it looks like a dump from the outside. It's another one of those places where it's probably not a good idea for a lone gringo to go.

Fenix "Entrance"


Central American University

Cool Artwork

Street Vendors

Street Vendors

Typical Neighborhood

Carretara Masaya Near The Hilton

Lunch was fabulous. For an appetizer I ordered a "cazuela con queso" which is a bowl of melted cheese that came with a stack of tortillas. I never had anything like it before and it was great. It comes in a little Mayan statue that has a candle in it to keep the cheese hot. For the main course I went with the carne asada de lomo de res and it was outstanding as well. Lunch for 2 came to the princely sum of $15.

The Menu

Waitress In Typical Dress

Bowl O' Cheese

Carne Asada

Get Your Coconuts Here

Woman Wearing A Pittsburgh Pirates Hat

Trying To Put Out A Fire

La Policia

Cool New Futbol Jersey I Bought

Cool New Futbol Jersey I Bought

Cool New Futbol Jersey I Bought

Cool New Futbol Jersey I Bought

Given my experience at the airport the week before I was in no real hurry to get there so we took our time at lunch. My flight left at 1:40 and we got to the airport at 12:30. I walk up to the Delta counter and no one is there except a baggage handler. He proceeds to tell me they are closed and to come back tomorrow. WTF are you talking about, come back tomorrow? He says you have to be here 2 hours before your flight to get a boarding pass. OK, this is Nicaragua so itís time to get creative. I gave the guy 150 Cordobas ($8) and 2 minutes later a Delta agent showed up and I had my boarding pass. One of the best things about travelling in Latin America is that a few dollars can solve most problems rather quickly. ;)

OK, some things to note about Nicaragua:

1) You can pay in $ís everywhere and you will get Cordobas in change. The official exchange rate when I was there was 18.03 Cordobas to the Dollar. Every place I went from the gas station to the casino exchanged dollars at 18 Cordobas to 1 dollar so itís not worth bothering trying to change money anywhere to get a better rate. You will end up with wads of Cordobas though. The biggest bill I saw was a 100 Cordoba ($5.50) bill. I have no idea if they have any bigger bills than that but if they do I didnít see any.

2) Hotels in Managua arenít cheap. The hotel that I stayed at was $55/night and that is half what the ďname brandĒ hotelís cost. Itís a family run place and is nice and quiet. The El Almendro is a lot nicer than the hotels in CR in my opinion and only a little more expensive so I guess I shouldnít complain about the price. Considering how poor Nicaragua is I just expected rates more around the $30-$35/night range.

3) Cabs donít have meters so you have to negotiate the fare upfront and that is difficult when you donít know where youíre going. I generally skipped the negotiating and just paid the cabbie 20 Cordobas when we got where we were going and got out of the cab. Only 1 complained and he only wanted 10 more Cordobas. Also, cabs are routinely shared in Managua so you usually won't be the only fare in a taxi. This can be a little unnerving but it's just how they do things there.

4) Buy a cell phone. Theyíre dirt-cheap and you will need it. Cabbies all have phones but they arenít going to pay to make phone calls on their phones for you. They will be more than happy to call on your phone though.

5) The people in Nicaragua are EXTREMELY friendly. With that being said be careful who you trust.

6) I canít stress enough the need to be able to speak Spanish in Nicaragua. If you donít speak Spanish youíre not going to have a very good time.

7) Itís HOT in Managua and the sun is very powerful. It was 95 degrees every day I was there. If you have fair skin beware that you will get fried very quickly in Managua.

8) Nicaragua is worth a visit if you like a good adventure. Unfortunately, I didn't make it to Granada or Leon but everyone says they are fabulous. That's good though because it gives me an excuse to go back. Managua is definitely not for everyone and is very different from anywhere I have ever been but itís worth a trip.

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