A tale of two cities

12.03.2011

 

In one of earlier posts I mentioned about the diversity among the countries of Central America. Today a bit more on the subject within one country, based on Nicaragua.

The capitals are hardly ever my favorite places for visting. Except for Prague, Vienna, Lisbon or Paris plus a handful of other cities I try to avoid them. I have the same impressions after visting three capitals in Central America, San Jose (Costa Rica), Tegucigalpa (Honduras) and Managua (Nicaragua).

As for the latter one, it is a very depressing city and pretty dangerous. Despite its beautiful location on another huge Nicaraguan lake, Lake Managua, and neighboring volcanoes the city reminds me a bit of a ghetto. A huge earth earthquake in 1972, with its epicenter in the center of the city, wreaked unimaginable distruction. The city center along the lakeside ceased to exist. Unfortunately due to  a strange policy of the local authorities for decades very little has been done to rebuild the city center. One of the destroyed buildings left untouched for 38 years is the old cathedral right next to the presidential palace (La Casa de Los Pueblos).

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Not having a real center Managua is sometimes referred to as “a city without the heart”. This nickname has a deeper meaning as well. Managua is simply a very dangerous place. There are not many places in the world where I would fear to jog along the streets. This is one of them.

We spent a night in Managua out of necessity to be able to get to Honduras by bus. Our bus was leaving Managua at 5 am on Saturday. Though our hotel was only two blocks from the bus station and we had to be there before 4:15 am, all the locals were advising us not to walk to the bus station with out luggage. A guy from our hotel offered to drive us two blocks for $12!! Just about half a kilometer. Luckily we knew another cab driver who drove us around the city the day before. He agreed to come from the opposite corner of the city in the morning and took us to the bus station for just $5.

In Managua, virtually everything is wrapped in barbed wire. It is a depressing sight. The only pleasant point of the trip was learning that the main street and main square of the city is named after John Paul II. Speaking about JPII, in all three countries we have seen numerous symbols and pictures of him. It feel like JPII and not Benedict XVI is still the reigning Pope.

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A positive contrast to Manague is a beautiful city of Granada situated about an hour by bus south of Managua. The city was modelled on its Spanish namesake in XVI century. What we liked most about this city was not only its architecture but most of all its hospitable and open people.

Granada is full os markets, stands with people peddling different wares. The less touristy a place you find, the better.

Do jednej z licznych atrakcji Granady należą też rozmaite stragany, targi. Generalnie im mniej turystyczne miejsce, tym jest ono ciekawsze.

 

Morning walk in pyjamas

 

For those of you wanting to visit this place we recommend staying at nice and inexpensive Hotel Oasis, where we stayed as well.

Tym wszystkim, którzy chcą się wybrać do tego uroczego miejsca bardzo też polecamy hotelik (Hotel Oasis), w którym się zatrzymaliśmy.

Roofs of Granada and Hotel Oasis

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