Managua...the city that was...or could have been. The photo is of an overturned citymap. I think it pretty well sums up the state of tourism in Managua.
Got into Managua around mid-day. I didn´t want to spend a night in Managua as I had heard it was expensive (relatively), dangerous, and just generally not tourist-friendly. So instead I decided to walk and cab around the town for a little while. This is one big advantage of traveling light...my backpack is so small I can easily carry it around all day if I need to even in this heat (April being the hottest month here)...thus, no need to check into a hotel just to drop off my stuff.
So had the ´lunch for 2´ at Pizza Hut and then walked over to check out the New Cathedral. It´s built like a concrete bunker...for good reason...the Old Cathedral was partially destroyed by an earthquake in the ´50s and then further damaged in the big quake of ´72. But the Old Cathedral is still there in the ´city center´...looking rather lonely...waiting for restoration that will probably never happen...emblematic of downtown as a whole.
´Downtown´ Managua is like that...empty and forlorn; kids playing soccer in an empty square next to the National Museum building. The ´72 quake destroyed much of the city, most of which was never rebuilt. Not sure if this is due to lack of funds or fear, but the result is a city without a city center; the million or so inhabitants mostly live in the outskirts. For the few minutes that I walked around in the old downtown area I actually saw more ¨Student Driver¨cars than cabs. Bereft and forsaken. When I finally did find a cab, I paid him a few bucks to drive me to some of the sites in the area, of which there were very few. Managua sits on the lakefront with Lake Managua...but the lakefront itself has very little development.
The cab driver turned out to be the highlight of Managua as we shared a few observations about the lack of gas in the gas station (Nicaragua´s president being a good friend of Hugo Chavez), and enjoyed a ´nickel bag´ of water sold by the street vendors. Yes, the water comes in a little bag...tear and drink. Well worth it...it´s 95 degrees plus here every day.