On Sunday I was able to go see Managua. I visited all the interesting sites with my homestay “brother” Rodrigo. He was kind enough to take me.
Well, technically, when he got home from school I pounced and told him, “I want to see Managua.”
“Okay,” he said. “Today?”
“If you have time!” I said. “I will pay for all the tickets.”
So I dragged him along with me and enjoyed the air conditioning cars provide.
Managua is not a tourist city, nor is it particularly historical or beautiful, so we were able to see most sites in a couple of hours. Managua’s draw are universities, dance clubs, parks for Sandinistas, and the government.
First Rodrigo took me to Loma de Tiscapa. It is a memorial and park for Augusto Cesar Sandino, the military leader of the revolution against the dictator Somoza and the U.S. occupation of Nicaragua in the 1930s. His silhouette is here, and he is almost always pictured with a sombrero.
Because Rodrigo took picture for me, he carried my camera. I told him that if he carried the camera, I wasn’t a tourist. He laughed and said I was still “chela.” This is what I am called because of my very fair skin. “Chela” means “white girl.” I tell everyone that calls me that, however, that my eyes and hair are dark, so I’m not a true chela. My family has listened, and they agreed to call me “Nica chela,” which is basically a white Nicaraguan.
Anyway, back to my tourist trip.
Many people believe that after Sandino was murdered by Samoza’s men in 1934, his body was buried somewhere by Lago de Tiscapa, so the park is all about him. It took another 40 years to get rid of the Samoza family, and it was through another, larger war.
There is an open air museum about Sandino at the park, and the guide only spoke Spanish. Because he pointed to pictures and used some congates, I understood about 40-50% of what he said. Until the end, when there were no more photos on the wall and there were no more cognates, and then my understanding went down to 10%.
The photo below is at the entrance to the park and is a memorial to Sandino and the civil war he fought.
Rodrigo and I hopped back in the car, and on the way he explained some of his family’s political views.
“We like Sandino, right?” I asked.
“And we hate Somoza,” I added.
“Well, we love studying Somoza,” he corrected me.
We passed a beautiful park, and he pointed it out to me.
“Should we go?” I asked.
“No, it’s for the Sandinistas. They will get upset if we come to their park,” he said.
The Sandinistas are a political party formed in 1979/1980. They used Sandino’s name to spread his ideas. Many people fought with the Sandinistas in the 1980s during the civil war and agreed with their ideas, but believe that now the party has strayed far from its original platform. Now the Sandinistas are in government, and they build parks and all sorts of places that only members of the party can use.
The next stop was the Plaza de Revolucion, on which several historical buildings stand. Pictured below is the old cathedral, accurately named “Antigua Catedral de Managua.” One of the adults in my family was baptized there before it was closed.
It is a beautiful, crumbling building, and on either side of it is the old president’s house and the Palaccio Nacional, which is now the National Museum.
The museum covers all history, and has mastadon and mammoth bones as well as pottery from the ancient indigenous peoples. They of course have multiple depictions of Sandino in the form of statues, paintings, and murals.
This is me and “mi novio,” or boyfriend. Apparently if you pose next to a wooden statue, all others will think he has claimed you.
On the fourth side of the plaza is a new memorial to “some friend of Daniel Ortega,” even though he didn’t really do much important and only died last year. Daniel Ortega is the current president of Nicaragua.
Our last stop was Salvador Allende, which I was able to see better in
It really is a beautiful spot.