Weekend in Nicaragua

Friday afternoon after an amazing dinner as usual, we went out into the city with some other people from the Spanish school. First, we had some drinks in “Gringolandia” which is the local name for the touristy hotspot in Granada. “Gringo” is the word for any white-skinned foreigner here, not only US citizens. The drinks were really good; we had Mojitos and Piña Coladas. Unfortunately, Chris had a headache, also because of the really loud music, so he went home early. Jenny stayed for a little longer and explored two other bars with the rest of the group which consisted of another German couple (the girl has also studied in Enschede!), a Danish girl, a Dutch girl, and Eliza, the US American who also stays in our house. It was really fun, especially at the second place where we could dance to Reggaeton and Salsa. The first place where we went was a little weird as it was completely packed with both locals and tourists (especially the latter) who came for free (and disgusting) rum-coke and decent shots (it was Chicas Night). We returned home in a taxi and learned that even if the rates are supposedly always the same, we should make sure to agree on the correct price in the beginning. This way, we paid about 1 euro instead of 75 cents… Not too much of something to be angry about.

On Saturday, we took the morning to relax a little, read and play backgammon. At three, the two of us and Eliza got picked up by our driver Omar who drove us to Managua. A week before, some family members of Thelma had visited the house. Yader, a nephew of our host, works at the national theatre as PR responsible and had invited us to watch the show on Saturday. About the show we knew nothing more than that a German group was coming over. But since the trip to Managua takes about an hour travelling time we wanted to add a little city trip to it. That’s why Thelma suggested that we contact Omar and ask him whether he can drive us and show us the city.Ferreteria Jenny

In Managua, we visited different places that all have one thing in common: They were quite bizarre (in Jenny’s opinion). In general, the whole city is an interesting place; from above it looks like more trees than houses. The introduction to it was unusual already: on the way there, we saw a sign of Ferreteria Jenny (a hardware store!) But now to the details of Managua’s bizarreness:

A recent project by Nicaragua’s president, has given the city a weird touch. All around Managua’s most important places, there are giant yellow “trees”. It is an art project that was constructed this year – a huge waste of money in the opinion of many, as the trees are illuminated at night and there are definitely other places were investment is much more necessary. This article says that the illumination costs more than 5 million euro per year! And that with very low energy prices in this country. Crazy, it seems, but they definitely made for some quite good pictures, especially in their contrast to the old cathedral of Managua, and added to the weird character of the city.Tree view 1 Tree view 2

Omar also drove us to the highest point of Managua (Loma de Tiscapa) with another of the trees and a silhouette of Sandino, Nicaragua’s national hero.

Loma de Tiscapa

From there, it is possible to see both the Lago de Nicaragua and the Lago de Managua which surround the city. While we were there, the usual afternoon weather consisting of storm-like winds for a few minutes and then the obligatory rain of the current season. From the top of Managua, this looked really impressive.

View on Managua

After that, we drove down the hill towards the lake where we were puzzled by all the worshipping monuments for different socialist leaders. A prime example of bizarreness is definitely the huge Hugo Chavez rotunda which we unfortunately could not take a picture of as we only drove by it. Here is a picture from the internet.

Hugo Chavez
Picture from http://www.el19digital.com

Next to the lake, there is another of Managua’s specialities: the street of the antique Managua before the earthquake, a miniature city copy with little houses and monuments including miniature people and brand advertisement. This made for some really funny pictures.

Miniature street

By the way, it is situated right next to some airplane which you can walk through. Not really a standard thing in a public park.

The airplane DSC_0286

Finally, after some great streetfood and a walk through the rest of the bizarre park resembling a Disneyland-like area, we finally went to the theatre. Yader welcomed us and immediately invited us also to the show next week. He was so nice, giving us tickets for free and introducing us to a German woman who was the director of the choir that performed there. So a choir it was, and not any choir we learned, but the state youth choir of “Brandenburgo”!

DSC_0310The show was really good, as the choir was decent. There were some highlights when they imitated the sounds of rain forest and when one girl sang a solo in a South African song. Before the show began, the ambassador of Germany and the director of the theatre delivered speeches and then the two national anthems were played. By the way, Yader even got us tickets in the VIP area next to several other ambassadors (which added to the bizarreness of the night).

The evening was really great, the only downside being the very cold air-conditioning in the theatre. After the ride back to Granada, Thelma’s tomato soup (of course she assumed we would be hungry) warmed us up before we went to bed still puzzled by the city and especially the strange course of events, with us seeing Brandenburg’s youth choir in Nicaragua of all the places.

On Sunday our destination was the “Laguna de Apoyo”, a lake inside of the crater of an inactive volcano. Sounds good, right? It was! Together with 3 others from the Spanish school, we travelled there by public transportation which was interesting in itself since the buses here are old U.S. American school buses. Once we arrived at the road to the volcano we decided that we could walk to the lake. In retrospective we might have underestimated the distance, especially since some of us wore flip-flops and it was almost midday heat. After View of the laguna1 hour walking up the outer side of the volcano we could see the lake inside promising us a refreshing swim.

And after another 45 minutes into the crater we arrived at resort-like place where we could go swimming. We still don’t know whether it would have cost entry, but nobody asked us, so we went in for free.

The lake is amazing with crystal-clear water and trees surrounding it. The water temperature was also comfortably warm. Since it is in a crater of a volcano, the ground of the water falls off quite steeply. So after walking about 4 or 5 meters from the shore you cannot reach the ground any more, even Chris!.The group

On the way back all taxis were already gone since it was Sunday late afternoon. To add to that the phone network was down so that we couldn’t even call a taxi. Hoping that we might find some transportation we walked back to the intersection of the coast road and the road leading to the main road. From here it would still have been about 1.5 hours of walking which we really did not feel like doing. So we did what we had experience in: Hitchhiking!

Maria and Sitske during the ride on the pick-up
Maria and Sietske during the ride on the pick-up

The first person was nice enough to take us on his Pick-up truck to the main road, together with two other people waiting in the area. There we found an express bus to Granada and were back home, having spent about 1 dollar for the day.

After having had our dinner we talked a little bit more with Eliza and she had some interesting stories to share since she worked in the film business. And then it was time for bed as Monday meant classes again! More about the things we did this week so far will follow soon.

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