August 8, 2007
The guide book says Managua, Nicaragua is "arguably the world's most peculiar capital." An understatement to be sure. Our guide, Mario took us to the capital grounds and there was no one there to speak of. Huge buildings sitting vacant. Large tracts of land nearby with chain link fences surrounding them. It looks like a giant foreclosure on a big-box store. Daniel Ortega won't live in the presidential mansion, instead works out of party headquarters. Big billboards on every road tout Ortega (he appointed his wife the tourism director, or promotions person and she has evidently designed these big outdoor campaigns, saying "Mas democracia, mas poder." Seems mighty ironic given the recent history of Orgega and the country.
Mucho horse drawn carts, all seemingly by the same horse: rail thin, small and gray. They are everywhere. Combine that with women walking down the street with large watermelons, trays of fruit and other household burdens on their head and you feel like you have travelled back in time about 50-75 years.
Of course there are the kids in baseball caps and Mets t-shirts so it's not all quaint-ville, but still it's astounding to see the provincial still living large in the jungles of Central America.
I had a dream last night that I went to Sky Harbor airport and I was caught in a timewarp and it was 1965. Ticket agents were smoking and laughing. People were hauling luggage around, inside and out, going out to their cars to get stuff they forgot, walking around the tarmac and chatting up the airline workers, who were also smoking and laughing. When we got on the prop plane, a passenger wanted to go into the cockpit and show the pilot his new Bowie knife. The stewardess put out her cigarette and ushered him in. I could hear laughter and see the smoke billowing out of the cockpit area.
Times have changed.
" Si pequena es lat Patria, uno grande la suena."
Ruben Dario, Nicaraguan poet laureate, "If your homeland is small, you imagine it large."
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