The 12 hour bus ride to Managua was actually pretty relaxing. At $30, King Quality is the most expensive bus but well worth it. There’s plenty of space and the seats recline way back. They even feed you. Our only real complaint is the too cold aircon. They gave us blankets and pillows though! Also, the DVD player was on the fritz and we got to see the first half of several movies.
Arriving at midnight in Managua is stressful. It was impossible to get away from people trying to “help” you find a hotel/cab/whatever or pitching a sob story to ask for money. This is very different than El Salvador where people are very friendly and will talk to you without any other motive.
The hotel across the street from the bus station was $35 (very expensive by central american standards) so we decided to take a cab to the neighborhood with all the budget hotels. We forgot that it was midnight and when we got there the area was pretty deserted. On the way our cab driver stopped to ask directions from a man standing in the middle of an intersection with a billy club. The guy started to get in our cab and I protested, but he said “Don’t worry, I’m security. Look at my club!” The hotel we picked from the guidebook was full, of course. A man came out of the nearby bar to “help” and led us to another place across the street. It was horrid and they wanted $30. We laughed and walked out. Finally, we found a half way decent place down the street for $12. Not a great place, but at this point we didn’t care and were half tempted to take a cab back to first hotel.
In the morning, everything was fine. We walked around and had breakfast without getting mobbed. Then walked to the bus station to get on to Granada.
Granada is Beautiful. We had lunch and fresh juice on the main plaza. Vigoron (Yucca topped with fired pork skin, and pickled cabbage salad) and pithaya juice (like a dragon fruit, but pinkish purple inside). I’m pretty much immune to begging for money and can say no without a twinge in my conscience. However, when we were nearly finished one of the kids approached to try and sell us gum. I said no, of course, but then he asked if he could have a glass of water (we had a 1.5 liter bottle on the table). We poured him a glass and he chugged it down without breathing. A few other kids gathered around and wanted some too. I felt bad and this pretty much endeared me to those kids. How can you say no to someone who can’t afford or find drinking water? Now we have to carry extra water at all times.
Sorry we don’t have any photos of Nicaragua to put up yet, but here are some Scarlet Macaws from Honduras to add some color.