Thursday, December 9, 2021

[MANAGUA] Puerto Salvador Allende

I was supposed to go out after my shift at 9 AM, but despite sleeping 7 hours the night before I felt really dizzy. And so, I thought it was about time I listened to my body and dozed off. Whatever time I wake up, I don’t care. Sightseeing in Managua will be incidental. After 3 hours, I woke up. Apparently, I only needed a nap. I had to tweak my itinerary a bit and started the day by calling an Aventón to drive me to Galerías Santo Domingo which was apparently just 10 minutes away by car.

Aventón is Nicaragua’s version of Uber but seems only widely available in Managua. The app won’t accept my credit cards but there is an option to pay in cash. At least I won’t have to negotiate with taxi drivers anymore, which I hate doing. Anyway, Galerías Santo Domingo is an upscale mall that has your usual shops, restaurants, and a cinema. I started the day by buying a shirt each from Levi’s and Adidas as replacements for my two worn out T-Shirts that are already begging to retire. After buying a pair of Bermudas shorts at Nautica, I headed to Sushi Itto for some chicken karaage and rice.

For the bad reputation that Managua has been getting outside of the country’s borders, I’m actually surprised how homey the city seems to be. Or perhaps this is just me being glad to be back in urban chaos after a week or two in small and colonial towns? Whatever the case might be, I am so glad to be back in a mall buying stuff. Capitalism, hooray! Had I not booked my Honduras Airbnb and Belize flight yet, I wouldn’t mind chilling here in Managua for a week or two, but I have to move on.

After dropping off the clothes and groceries at my Airbnb, the same Aventón drove me north to Puerto Salvador Allende. Don’t be fooled. Managua’s seaside coast is farther down south along the Pacific and the capital has no access to the Caribbean. So what port are we talking about here, then? Lake Xolotlán. Lest we forget, Nicaragua has lakes aplenty, and this one is shared by the capital with neighboring León. Suffice it to say that the lake is large enough to give you the impression that it’s a sea or an ocean.

What sailing activities you can enjoy there, I wouldn’t be able to give you tips, unfortunately. My day out in Managua coincided with the feast of the Immaculate Conception. As with majority of Spain’s ex colonies, Nicaragua is no exception when it comes to the Virgin Mary fandom. And since we are already in December as well, this means Christmas celebrations are also in full swing, and Managua knows how to excel in that category. And so, what I discovered outdoors were throngs of people celebrating the holiday amidst Christmas and Virgin Mary-themed outdoor adornments everywhere.

Puerto Salvador Allende was named after the Marxist president of Chile. Nicaragua seems to lean more on this axis of the Latin American political spectrum, which explains the country’s inaccessibility from the US and Canada as far as flights are concerned, according my tour guide in Masaya who hails from Managua. Apparently, ‘Merica and friends do not like it that much when some kids in their neighborhood don’t play by their rules. In any case, Nicaragua seems to be proud of this independence from the US, and wherever you go in the capital, it shows, through the many monuments and salute to this political doctrine.

If you are not interested in politics, then just enjoy the walk along the bay which is lined up with gazebos with thatched roofs, a gorgeous view of the lake with some hills in the background as well as some restaurants here and there to satisfy your hunger. The area also houses many play zones for kids and some theme park rides, which means the place has been conceived with the entire family in mind.

Should you crave for something more historic, the city center, split between north and south, is just a fifteen-minute walk away. There you will find Managua’s old Santiago cathedral flanked by the Casa de los Pueblos and the National Palace on both sides. Facing the church is Parque Central where you will find several tombs of fallen Nicaraguan statesmen. Yes, I asked, they are actually buried there. The Plaza de la Revolución in between is adorned with Christmas decor and bright lights in December.

Crossing over to the south side via a very modern-looking white bridge brings you to a huge park called Parque Luis Alfonso Velásquez Flores, which I no longer had time to explore because it was already getting dark. I took a cab to the new Metropolitan Cathedral to check out its white domes, but the gate was already closed and it was already dark when I got there. And so, I ended my day and my Managua tour right there. I’d say the city has been a pleasant surprise, and I wouldn’t mind coming back to see more.

[MANAGUA] Puerto Salvador Allende

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