or "See you later," as we often do, is one of the hardest parts about being in the Foreign Service. You arrive at post, meet many new folks, start to make new friends, and then within days or weeks, it's already time for one of your new amigos to leave post. Sadly, this is happening to us today. Two new friends are leaving post and we can only hope that my incessant chattering about FS life (and how to find everything you need to know about FS life via a Google search) repaid a wee bit of the kindness they showed to us in our first few weeks.
They not only showed us Granada two weekends ago (how time flies), but one of them managed to carve out a great deal of time during the weekdays, despite her impending move, in order to show us around Managua. Last Thursday afternoon, she took Nicholas, Kelsey, and I on a whirlwind tour of downtown Managua, to include Parque Historico Nacional Loma de Tiscapa.
Now, remember as you read that we are so very new to the area. While we are trying to get out and about quickly, we are also attempting to settle in and learn as much as possible about our new home. So, I may not include as many details as I should in these first few posts, only as I am still learning and gathering information. For instance, our first stop on our downtown area was an emergency bathroom stop.
I don't necessarily recommend trying to randomly find a public toilet downtown or at least along the shoreline of Lake Managua. Easy to locate, it was not! We eventually found a bar/restaurant that was not open, but had a restroom. The lone occupant lounging at a table did not mind us borrowing the restrooms, but not sure that will always be an option.
We attempted to drive further up the shoreline, as we heard there was a boardwalk. It's entirely possible we were already on the boardwalk and didn't know it. We simply found a bunch of restaurants and bars that were open-ish. There appeared to be a fairgrounds, and beyond that what *looked like* a water park. Unfortunately, there was a fee to drive into the park and no information given out about what was actually there. So, we made a quick u-turn and vowed to investigate online before returning to the possible water park.
Our first real touristy stop was the old cathedral of Managua. An imposing stone edifice that sadly cannot be toured by anyone other than the guards who quietly watch it from inside. The 1931 earthquake damaged it greatly, and while it was repaired, the 1972 earthquake just about destroyed it completely. While it is still standing, it is not safe to be toured. I have heard conflicting reports about whether it can or will be repaired, so only time will tell.
The old cathedral is located in the Plaza de la Republica, near the Palacio Nacional de la Cultura that houses the Museo Nacional. We opted to save this for another day, and after ambling around the plaza a bit more, the LG offered a rare photo op.
Our tour guide of the day then offered that we might like to visit Loma de Tiscapa. This was maybe a 1o minute ride, including a windy road up to the top of the elevation (note: it runs 20 cordobas to enter the park). Up, up, up we went, past a military complex on our left and amazingly colorful playgrounds to our right. While they are not the fancy-pants playgrounds of the U.S. (slides are metal! Swings are made of wood!) they seem to satisfy those who stop to play. In fact, we had every intention of partaking in the fun, but the kids, well, all of us, were a wee bit hot, tired, and parched by the time we were leaving Tiscapa.
We also visited the (very few) remains of the former presidential palace. It was also seriously damaged in the earthquake of 1931 and destroyed by the 1972 quake. A few walls remain just a few meters from the zip line entrance. There are also remains of a former prison just a few steps away. Apparently, "going to Loma" didn't always have the same meaning it might have today.
The last task of our day was to attempt to feed Nick's leftover hot dog bun to a stray dog hunting around ceramic pots in the parking lot. Yes, I realize a hot dog bun may not be the healthiest choice, however, the kids were so upset to see yet another starving pooch looking for anything to eat. We see so many on a daily basis and it's just heartbreaking. In our case, it may be wallet breaking, as Nick gave me yet another lecture the other day on "dogs with no owners" and how we need to feed them, take care of them...and he always manages to say this when I have just glimpsed from meters away, the ribs of yet another hungry puppy. Not every one appears to be on his or her own, but just so many of them have that appearance. Another topic we need to learn more about and we certainly have the time.