Last night I was able to go out and actually see part of Managua. Finally. It was really great!
I joined two other volunteers at Bartahola Norte to go to Puerto Salvador Allende, a park/pier on Lago de Managua. It has shops, restaurants, and places to relax. There was an international food festival going on, so it was the perfect time for us girls to explore. One girl has been here since September and will be here a total of 2 years, so she was familiar with the area. She said that the whole festival was completely new, and this didn’t even feel like Nicaragua.
There was food from all over the world, and performances from different cultural groups. Russian singing, Palestinian dancing, and Korean Tae Kwon Do forms set to music. The last one was pretty weird. I”ve never seen forms set to the beats of Black Eyed Peas and “We Will Rock You.” It is something I will probably never experience again in my whole life.
Lago de Managua is much larger than I expected, and has hills and forest reserves on the far side of the lake. I could barely make it out across the water. It is a beautiful place, but Managua doesn’t have any sewage treatment centers. Which means all the lakes, especially Lago de Managua are not safe to swim it. It’s not even blue–it’s very clearly brown. Still, the breeze by the water was refreshing and very enjoyable.
This is it during the day. The lake is much larger to the right of the photo.
This was my first excursion from the school/community center/home, so I was really happy to be out and about. However, when it came time to go home, I realized I had no idea where I lived. I had assumed that the taxi that dropped me off at Bartahola Norte would pick me back up there and take me home. But he was nowhere to be seen, and we had to find a decent rate to get us to two places. My home is about 15-20 minutes from Bartahola Norte.
I had sort of asked for an address before I left, but people either didn’t understand or didn’t hear. They were convinced earlier in the evening that I had no idea what I was doing, where I was going, or what I was trying to say. I think they confused my “I don’t know” (which I meant, “I don’t know when we’ll be home. I don’t know how to get home. Ericka will decide” as “I don’t know where I’m going” and “I don’t know what you’re saying to me.” So they weren’t particularly helpful when I left.
Fun fact: Managua (And much of Nicaragua) doesn’t have street names or addresses. While we say, “I live at 2442 Mockingbird Dr.,” they say, “I live two blocks west of Metrocentro and one block south, near a church.”
While I knew I lived near Metrocentro (the nice mall in town), I didn’t know directions to tell the taxi driver. He was not happy. No one in my home stay family was picking up their phones. Thankfully, the friend that has been here for almost a year is fluent, and she was telling the driver what to do. I began to recognize things and unfortunately told him to exit a roundabout one exit too early. I recognized my mistake and we finally convinced him to turn around and go down the correct road. But he decided to try to find the destination his own way rather than listening to my correct directions, and we traveled in circles for 20 minutes, stopping to ask strangers where “Escuala de Espanol de Viva” was.
I was so embarrassed for not knowing where I lived. No one has told me much about Managua, which barrio I live in, or anything. I have the longest conversations about Managua with a nine-year-old granddaughter of Mama Adilia (I didn’t know what else to call her, so now it’s Mama Adilia). I kept apologizing to my friends, and they assured me that it was okay and this half wasn’t my fault. We would, because of my mistake, have to pay more, however.
I offered to pay the extra, and they accepted. “Adventure comes at a price,” one of the girls said, then laughed.
The taxi driver finally listened to me, and we eventually arrived at my casa. It was rather a stressful adventure.
But I’m very glad I went to Salvador Allende. And yes, adventure comes at a price.