August 17, 2004 GMT
Nicaragua, Managua

Checking out of Honduras was much easier than checking in, thank god, and checking in to Nicaragua was suprisingly the quickest and easiest so far.

But despite this, I lost so much time checking IN to Honduras that it was now a race against time to get into Managua, the capital, before dark.

One place you you DON'T want to be is on the roads of Mexico and Central America after dark. First of all there are many places the roads are an extension of peoples farms. Then there are the drivers who either don't use - or don't have - headlights, drunk drivers, roving robbers and gangs, and the rare pothole big enough to swallow your bike.

So there I was in Esteli, Nica, the last hotels before Managua, with 90 minutes left to sunset at 1800h....and I figured at least 2 hours to darkness and Managua.

Here the sun sets around 1800, but rises at 0500.

I called Carlos, Peggy's husband who assured me I could make it to our prearranged meeting point in Managua before darkness fell, and he would then guide me to his house. He also suggested that even if it DID get dark, that our meeting point would be easy to find, and that Managua was safe after dark.

So it was now a race against time to make it to Managua, a large spralling city of over 1,000,000 people and one of the few major cities of Central America only 50m above sea level, making it always hot - low to mid 30's throughout the year.

Managua, like San Salvador, had a rough history of natural disasters...fires and earthquakes(last one in 1972), after which geologists discovered the old downtown area to be riddled with faults, causing it to be abondoned. Only a handful of pre 30's buildings remain most of which are occupied with squatters.

The new Managua, built on the outskirts, with it's sprawling streets devoid of reference points, has little tourist value.

Well, back to the race which I was losing. It was now dark, with rush hour on, and I just arrived at the outskirts.

Imagine arriving in Montreal, after dark during rush hour, with unlit streets with no names.

But with determination and luck I found Carlos who insisted I stay with him in his apartment situated near the new Metro Centro, a modern mall, in the Zona Rosa.

Carlos is a beautiful generous guy with a great sense of humor, and after my shower, we were out on the town checking out the discos, restos, and hookers of every size, age, shape, and sex, who lined the strreets.

The next morning Carlos took me on a daylight tour of Managua, bringing me to it's many markets where he combined pleasure with business.

Carlos seemed to be known by, and friends with everyone in the huge markets, as well as most of the restos.

Early in the afternoon it was goodby to Carlos and off to the town of Granada, around 1 hour south, but not before giving Carlos who used to ride bikes, a chance to ride my motorcycle while I stayed home ("watch it", Peggy).

Posted by Ness at August 17, 2004 02:27 PM GMT
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