Everybody was saying don’t go to Managua, it’s not worthy. Even big backpackers like Nomadic Matt. However, I didn’t want to believe there’s nothing to see and explore in the capital of Nicaragua. Once again, it’s only up to you how much you trust other people’s opinion. For me Managua was very interesting.
But it all didn’t start very well. Couple days before I started to feeling very weak having random fevers. It honestly looked like a Dengue fever. Just to be sure I visited the most modern hospital in Nicaragua. Of course, it’s all private and very expensive but that’s why I have travel insurance.
After 7 hours in hospital they confirmed me food poisoning. Lucky this time. But those 7 hours were amazing. Lying on the bed, reading my favourite book by Niall Doherty “The Cargo Ship Diaries” and playing with hospital instruments. So much fun.
The instructions from doctor were clear – take it easy for the next couple of days. And so I did. Travelling sucks when you’re not feeling good. So why should I risk it, right?
It was very hard but I managed it for at least 2 days. Then I started feeling I need to do something. The choice was Huembes market. It’s relatively safe when comparing to others in Managua and so I took my GoPro with me. Such an amazing place. So many different aromas, colours and things to buy.
That place is huge, I spent there 2 hours walking and exploring the offers. At what other place can you meet karaoke singer singing songs about Jesus Christ? That’s not happening so often. Or hair colour named “Igora”?
The next day me and couple of guys from hostel visited local park with beautiful view of the whole city and crater lagoon Tiscapa. Let’s be honest, Nicaragua is pretty bad at taking cares of lagoons right now. There was so much garbage in and around it. Hopefully this will get better in the future.
On the way back we played football with local guys in the middle of the street. So much fun. And I would miss it all if I trusted the reviews and advices of other people. In those couple of days I also learnt which public buses to take to get to different bus stations and markets. And okay, I even stopped at Burger King and had my first Whopper in months. I just couldn’t resist.
One useful thing I would like to share is how to get from Managua airport to Huembes bus station. Taxi drivers usually charge $15 but you can do it for 5 NIO. In front of the airport there’s a big highway. Go to the other side and take one of those red-green-white buses with Tipitapa sign on them. They all look the same. The ride is around 30 minutes and the last stop is one of the main bus terminals in Managua. From there you can take chicken buses to many destinations. Just be careful, there are 3 main terminals in Managua. Always do a research from which one buses leave to your destination.
Couple years ago Managua upgraded their public bus system and you have to have chip card to enter the public buses. Fortunately, Managuans are pretty smart and there’s always someone standing on the bus stop offering his card. You will pay 5 NIO instead of standard 2.5 NIO. Sometimes even bus drivers takes 5 NIO in cash but it depends on the driver.
Near UCA there’s a small terminal with mini buses going to all main destinations like Leon, Granada or Masaya. There are usually air conditioned, faster and more comfortable than chicken buses, leave very often and the price is very acceptable. Where chicken bus costs 30 NIO, mini bus driver will charge around 50-60 NIO. The fares are fixed and always visible somewhere in the bus. This is also valid for chicken buses. They simply don’t over-charge you like in other countries just because you’re a gringo.