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Thread: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

  1. #1
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

    A relative and a friend complained about the sudden unavailability of certain special medicines. One for Parkinson’s and the other for Lupus. Of course, they point fingers at DOS, but it could be Big Pharma pulling back on the subsidies for a shaky Nicaragua. Or nothing at all. I still find all the generics I’m looking for. Supermarkets are full. Fresh veggies and fruit aplenty. Prices creep up. There are more empty, available taxis on the streets than ever, because the usual fare is now 30 cords/person. (A typical driver pays the owner 600 cords/half-day and must return it tank full & clean.)

    Downtown Leon is being renovated. Some streets off Parque Central will become pedestrian walkways. La Cancha - a youth gathering spot for basketball, street soccer and skate-boarding - will be covered. The university center CUUN, destroyed by fire during the 'crisis', is being rebuilt. During the Easter break, Leon becomes a ghost town. Tourists are still largely absent.

    Eating out it’s getting more difficult to find restaurants with good meals at reasonable prices. ‘Ya Voy’ was once dependably first rate at $15/person with plenty of Nica suds; now the plates look bigger than ever as the food portion on ‘em have shrunk. I love ‘Pan y Paz’, but the ham on their ham & cheese sandwich is a single, translucent slice. Don’t take me wrong, the bread and fixins are delicious, but I can’t taste no ham. McDs is where the beef is. A/C’d and spacious with wifi and free drink refills and a great kids’ party room, McDs is where Leon goes for value. (Including fried chicken whatnots - practically shutting down Tip Top & Pollo Estrella.) McDs - a pinnacle of American consumerism - sits beside the great Cathedral of Leon - a truly living monument to the universal Christian religion, that regularly offers the symbolic blood & body of Christ as sustenance for the faithful. Which is not to say that there’s an on-going competition.

    In Granada I got gouged bad at one joint on La Calzada (Don Alias?). Prices were ridiculously high on common fare, which I made the mistake of not checking beforehand. They even charged me double on what I had asked the price for, and was the reason we sat there. I made a scene. In one place, all prices on the menu were in dollars, but when paying it had to be cords at their rate of 33.8/$ when it was 32.5/$ online. These are hard times. Forget relaxing and coasting along on a few US greenbacks in the old Nicaragua. Be extra vigilant for shysters abound these days. (Are they’re buying up property on the cheap? If so, welcome to the whirlpool named Nicaragua.)

    A month ago, with many nearly vacant spots on las Penitas beach, one was full - of Euro trash. I say that with total respect. My kid & I walked thru the hostal. The clientele were all tall, slim posers in hep attire. None looked us in the eye or talked with us. Only the Nica working on his knees, digging a new path was friendly. The place was full. Felt like a museum of lost souls. Those beaches will be full during this long Easter holiday, of hard-living Nicas. They may go swimming in their underwear, but they’re a lot more real than those narco-wastrels from the lost continent.

    Last week I notice an unusual number of burly-fit men in downtown Leon. Not in groups, singles dressed in plain street clothes. Cuban extras? This tense situation does tend to fertilize my imagination. Saturday in Managua, a group of 7 or so red-beret soldiers stood inside the MetroCentro entrance by Buffalo Wings. They looked sharp. I didn’t see any heavy weaponry. There were no incidents in the mall. The shopping crowd seemed lighter than usual, but the food court was packed (nice facilities). The display of police standing at intervals on roadways and traffic circles was impressive.
    I never met a Semite I didn't like.

  2. #2
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

    The heat. It's oppressive in Leon this time of year. They call it "la presion". Temperatures at or just below 90F, but it's the humidity, RH hovers continuously at 70%, and the lack of any breezes that create this sauna we slog thru. I shower 4 times a day, having no A/C, without toweling dry - evaporation is a quite pleasant way to cool off. (No hot water here - totally unnecessary.) In a month the rainy season (invierno) begins, where downpours flood & clean streets daily, keep down the dust, and replenish Nicar-agua's vast aquifer systems. Meanwhile it's a nice time to visit cities in the mountains. Lots of people go to nearby beaches - which are quite pleasant - but the undertow is so wicked in many areas that we usually just sit in the shade, sipping cold, golden brew, and stare at the vast horizon toward China, and wonder.
    I never met a Semite I didn't like.

  3. #3
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

    The traffic returning from the beach (pleasure seekers, casual sinners) backed up as it was forced into multiple detours in Leon due to the religious processions (do-gooders, zealots) marching slowly thru the streets to the death-beat of bass drum & tuba.
    I never met a Semite I didn't like.

  4. #4
    Viejo del Foro el duende grande's Avatar
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    Default Re: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

    Today's weather report in Esteli calls for" 30, feels like 35". That means humidity a/o no breeze. One sucky part of Esteli weather is what I call the humidity inversion--RH often goes up by 25 points during the night. You go to bed comfy but wake up later uncomfy. AC or at least a ceiling fan is a must.

    Woke up groggy from entertaining all day. Not from booze, not a drop, all the big drinkers are in the US or at the beach. Not because I am particularly entertaining, not really my high card!
    Usual hen party, saved only by the SIl and one neighbor. Incidentally, Nicas find "fiesta de gallinas" an interesting concept once they figure out what you are saying. So many social events here are all or mostly women.

    "Support mental health or I'll break your head"


  5. #5
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

    Often, walking to & from downtown, only some 5 blocks, I pass by a corner laundry run by a French expat. Soon after opening each day they put a whiteboard at the entrance with a saying, a truism or opinion, a pre-internet tweet as it might be considered, a bit of wisdom to ponder that day. Often it’s been a quote from some notable author rendered into Spanish. Recently it seems to be more homespun learnings. I don’t always agree with the message, but enjoy thinking about it as I walk on. Yesterday’s gave me pause. Here it is (as best I recall):

    Los objectos estan hechos para utilizar.
    Personas son hechos para amar.

    El problema principal con el mundo hoy es que
    muchas personas aman objectos y utilizan personas.

    Objects are made to be used. People are made to love.
    The main problem with today’s world is that
    many people love objects and use people.

    No attribution meant it was by the owner or one of the ladies working there. With practically no tourists, with many hotels shuttered, fewer ladies work there. Hard times, yet they’re obviously well grounded in what’s important in life.
    I never met a Semite I didn't like.

  6. #6
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Default Re: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua


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    TRN Science officer bill_bly_ca's Avatar
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    Default Re: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

    ==================================================
    Dude !!!.... Its a Canal !!! Can you Dig it ??

  8. #8
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

    Into Managua on Monday to get permission from Migracion (visa de salida) for our boy to leave Nicaragua with us on our upcoming trip back to the States. All went surprisingly smoothly with little waiting - no long lines. The customs people were actually helpful, telling us not to pay the sidewalk lawyers more than 150 cords for the boilerplate legal form needed, that they pump out in under 10 minutes. In prior years they'd ask 600, I usually paid 300.

    Then on to Hotel Estrella near the Plaza de Americas mall. It's actually in barrio Union Sovietica and the mall en barrio Venezuela. We had the pool to ourselves. Less than a quarter of the place was occupied, mostly business types with their own car - it's more a 'motel' (USA style, not the auto-motels common here where you take your squeeze and pay by the hour). All enjoyed a traipse around the mall - greatly expanded since we'd visited some 3 yrs ago. We ate/drank in Daiquiris, tender beef steaks - 1 lb for 250 cords ($7.50) with fixins - and a cubetazo de Victoria Clasicas - 6 for price of 5 (200 cords).

    The next night we stayed in the Hotel Europeo in barrio Bolonia. The area was extremely heavily guarded, many streets were barricaded with mini-mazes of stacks of blocks (piedra cantera 4X4X10 high, heavily armed guards and steel barriers, they moved to let us pass. Apparently the Ortegas have a residence in the area. Again we had the pool to ourselves. Almost no other guests. Just a group of 10 or so skinny black couples from Cuba. The gardens around the pool area are gorgeous, but the restaurant was closed, except for our breakfast included. We ate at Plaza Inters' food court last nite. It's sad to see that mall going downhill so quickly - some 7 years back it was a joyful place with live shows in the food court, nice theaters, lots of shops and good coffee and cold beer. There's still plenty of cold beer (no bottles allowed in the court cause of fights). The coffee is so so.

    Today, May day, is a holiday here, international labor day. We'll check out MetroCentro. If the inter-locales (A/C'd vans) going to Leon aren't frequent enough (waiting in line in the afternoon sun is hell), a taxi driver in a newish Yaris offered to drive us (5) for 1400 cords. I'd have to spend more than 400 anyway. $30 ain't bad for a quick 50 mile trip.
    I never met a Semite I didn't like.

  9. #9
    Viejo del Foro Daddy-YO's Avatar
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    Default Re: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

    Written a couple years ago, this is more relevant re-posting here:

    Noise? I guess I’ve grown accustomed to it. Admittedly the mortar bombs that the church lobs over our heads on religious occasions bothered me in the beginning. Not now. (We had a neighbor - didn’t stay long - who totally freaked out over the church’s rude calls-to-celebrate; he was ex-Blackwater/Iraq.) I came South to submerge in our hemisphere’s third world culture, its humanity, its other worldness. To escape commuter traffic bulletins. After divorce and corporate burn-out. Not looking for a woman - but that turned out to be dessert to my adventurous feast.

    There are times when the sounds of Leon’s streets are like music to me, a kind of never repeating music of life. Some of the street vendors have beautifully resonant voices. The motorcycle & car traffic noise ebbs and, at times, all but disappears such that even doves cooing can be heard. Through it the clop-clop of hooves on asphalt from the horse-drawn wagons of the poor competing with the combustion engines of the rich. Kids gather chattering - punctuated with an occasional girl-shriek - as one session of school lets out and before the next begins. And when it rains, it pours, and thousands upon thousands of fat drops beat the zinc roof ending conversation, overwhelming the soapbox show of tears on the wall, commanding full auditory submersion in a meditation that dissolves
    ego. Nature’s white noise amplified.

    Not to shortchange our other 4 senses, I’ve found living in a city in Nicaragua to be a sensory kaleidoscope worth the necessary trans-cultural adjustments.
    I never met a Semite I didn't like.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

    Where I'm at it's so quiet at night it wakes you up.
    We fall asleep to the frogs singing. They give it up eventually.
    The church shuts down by 9PM, and they are pretty far away anyway.
    I don't know why we don't have the fireworks and mortars,, people are too poor, maybe.
    Christmas and New Years a bit,, but the farm is so big no one can get really close.

    The only sound during the night is the alarm going off when the dog steals the bowl of pig scraps from the top of the outside counter.
    Or Shelley snoring.
    Last night he made off with the stainless steel bowl as well. We'll find it somewhere on his track back to his residence. I can't be bothered to check,, if it's a true thief,, there will be more soundings,, the dog grabs his booty and runs. And peace and quiet returns.

    I have to feed the pigs so that there is no concentrado left in their bowls overnight,, or the dog(s) eat that too.
    We are almost completely enclosed around the back of the house, so it's less of a problem than it was. The garden too is protected by chain link. It looks like La Modelo in Tipitapa, but we won't see it from the front of the house when we are finished.
    Just the view across the lake over the Rio Coco towards Telpaneca.


    The pigs are fenced by a low electric fence that the dog jumps over.
    I learned that I want to keep them (the pigs) some distance from the house (or at least downwind).
    As they get bigger they won't tolerate the dog,, to the point they will kill and eat him if they catch him.
    I look forward to seeing that.
    They are all big meat eaters. Shameless cannibals. Bar B Q pork ribs their favorite.

    Eventually, I will bring down my own dogs,, but don't feel comfortable at this point leaving them to the tender mercies of the Nicaraguans while I am gone.
    I'm looking at a couple of those Czech border German Shepherds. Nicaraguans are afraid of big dogs.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=czec...FLBEeJM:&vet=1


    La Colonia sells bags of bones with a lot of meat on them for 18 cords the pound.
    Sometimes,, they discount to 15 if they wind up with a lot.
    As I build out,, I'm developing more and more of a compound that the dogs can roam at night.

  11. #11
    Active TRN Member vern's Avatar
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    Default Re: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

    i miss going down from Condega to Esteli. i always enjoyed walking around in Esteli. my niece went to collage in Egteli and we would always drive to surprise her after school. what i miss the most about Nicaragua is life. just watching life. so many people doing so many things. the noise and life.
    my little girl

  12. #12

    Default Re: Footnotes on being in Leon & Managua

    So much new stuff in Estelí, restaurants, on the streets running off the parque central.

    Last night was a Monday, good restaurant crowd, but Los Arcos was empty. We weren't the only guests, but just about.

    Extremely pleasant evening for walking. Non existent police presence, very different from Managua.

    We wandered into the old Luz y Luna looking for a chocolate bar, La Colonia was closed. The Nicaraguan chocolate is gritty,, not creamy,, I suppose it could be the coarse sugar??? With big Snickers bars pushing $2 at La Colonia,, an opportunity here for someone to figure it out.

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