|Homeless guys live all around what was once a lovely park in the centre. They keep their spare clothes under their 'beds' - the benches you see around|
Managua, capital of Nicaragua, has that feeling like I imagine is the case in some of these war torn West African Child Soldier countries. After an enormous earthquake in !972, over 250 city blocks were destroyed, which basically comprised the whole central part of the city.
|Ruined Church and Totally Deserted Square. Sometime after World War 3|
I don't know what it is though (maybe the abject poverty everywhere) I've travelled a lot and been in some really dodgy places, but it hasn't been often that i've felt that 'danger' vibe during the day in the centre of a city. Anything could happen here when you're the only gringo (apart from a handful of Bible thumping volunteers) in town and a potential source of income for years in a country like Nicaragua. So i've sadly taken to taking taxi's everywhere at night, even 200 yards, and if i have my laptop or camera, or bankcards, during the daytime too. Except thats not really true. I should have done though. Hopefully my mum stopped reading by now.
|You don't really want to be here at night.|
It's the kind of city where every kid in the ghetto parts (where you shouldn't be wandering anyway, even in the day) everyone's whistling and following you. Maybe they're just being friendly but no, its not a place to pull out the old Pentax digital and start snapping away.
So after the earthquake, a series of US inspired civil wars (world peace...madonna...I couldn't help smiling at the irony at the superbowl last night as the warmongers of the world bring newspeak and mass-hypnosis to new levels - read a few Noam Chomsky books like 'what uncle sam really wants', 'world orders, old and new' and one that will make you see the USA! USA! machine really for what it is
Propaganda and Control of the Public Mind and then switch on your TV set ;o)
|Why is a mutated Estonian flag flying over a shady bar at Managuas lakeside?|
...so...after the earthquake, there basically wasn't a city centre. And since they had to spend all the money arming themselves to defend the country from the USA funded Contra rebels, the city, to this day has no centre, its just a jumble of random impoverished suburbs and slums, with a bunch of empty space in the middle. And a hell of a lot of private security guards. Like Guatamala. Every business, shop, office, and even some houses, have a little fat guy in uniform and a gun sitting outside them.
|Celebrating Toy Soldiers round the world (and tinpot dictatorships)|
The 'centre' down by the lakeside consists of a whole bunch of litter strewn empty spaces, stray dogs, and sketchy hustlers. Like some kind of dystopian post apocalyptical ruin, people eke out a living selling pieces of corn and watermelons. and robbing Scottish idiots who walk off the main road. A row of ramshakle huts/bars line the lake and blare out some kind of nasty regathon/mexican combo music, and fat chicas sit around, sometimes serving beer and greasy food that you don't really want to check the ingredients too closely. I was only there in the daytime so far and it was seriously sketchy.
|Watermelon Anyone? Lakeside bars/shacks to the left are all thats left in what was once Managuas Downtown|
The sad truth is i'll probably go round there for a beer tonight with a mate, to check it out, which I know, I know its asking for trouble but I wont be wearing anything I cant afford to lose. I heard about a guy who got robbed down there recently and they left him naked and penniless except his underpants. I mean comeon, it's not the end of the world, and you have to check these weird places when you're down here in the third world. And the beer is 2 for a Dollar.
|The star system is maybe used more loosely in Nicaragua|