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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Esteli, Nicaragua

You know you're in a poor country when the only other foreigners in the nightclub are NGO's. It's almost like you left that awful 'backpacker' crowd behind and joined a real country.

It all started randomly when I just arrived in Managua, the capital, and a friend asked me up for the night. A shaky two hour bus ride and voila! Here I am in the Northern Highlands of Nicaragua, realising that my Spanish is awful. Fortunately I get drunk enough when we get to 'Cigarzone' a local club, to forget the fact that my dancing is awful too.

But the city, despite looking like an ugly one horse town with no main square, had a warm and friendly atmosphere that reflects its Ranchero/Sandanista heritage. Smiling country girls flock here for the University and old men on horses with cowboy hats roam the streets.

Esteli is also the home of Cigar making in Nicaragua, and there are a million cigar tours you can arrange from here. I even smoked one, but i'm not going to post the photos of course ;o)

But what Esteli introduced me to was how cheap it is to live here. In the club, a bottle of Absolut Vodka is $15. Why can't it be that cheap back home?

If you wan't quality you have to pay for it though. Cafe Luz is across from one of the main hostels in town and to be honest looked like one of the few places that the food was stomachable. It was lovely actually (although at $6 for a main course, very expensive by Nica standards), and run by a western woman as a non-profit, like all the Western businesses here. It was full of smug foreigners though, pounding away on their Apple Macs, like me.

I'm not sure about this NGO scene. Esteli was a Sandanista stronghold and after USA kindly destroyed their country by arming the Contra thugs (their enemies) it seems the place is full of NGO's, repairing all the damage their countrymen did in the first place. Well at least they aren't awarding oil contracts here, and most of the guys seemed quite decent (the girls I met were smug little 'I save the world, what do you do' bitches, who would only speak to me in Spanish despite being from Minnesota or somewhere like that, and kept trying to dance like locals which is embarrassing when you have no bottom to speak of whatsoever.

Talking of which, i'm amazed at how it works over here. Seems that the chunkier the chica, the more energetic the dancer. So all the skinny girls would kind of grind around the edges and the big ladies would take centre stage on the dancefloor, shaking their behinds like only Caribbean people can. In theory they'll look like marathon runners in no time (They tried to teach me but i just looked like a retarded penguin) I was fortunate to meet some lovely local girls (thank you Nora, Ari, Doris, Anna) who made me feel welcome despite the culture and language barriers, but it was good to get out of the 'foreigner' mould and get into the local vibe a bit.

Now to Managua, the city without a centre (it was earthquaked to hell in the year of my birth, 1972) i heard lots of stories of how boring it is (like most Central American Cities) so lets see how it goes...

(Ps photos will be added later!)





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