So we awoke this morning ready to do some more shopping. First on the docket was to go to the Municipal Market and get a cheap duffel bag for our stuff. After about a 20 minute walk there, only having to ask for directions once we arrived at the craziness that is the Municipal Market. It was huge, (we never saw it all), smelly in the food parts (particularly the terrible cheese), much cheaper than the Artisan Market (had all the same stuff too), and way more authentic, so I loved it. Only big downfall is that to roof of every stall is of course corrugated metal of some sort so as the day wears on it gets hotter and hotter and hotter…
Fairly quickly into our searching a man who happen to speak English came and asked us what we were looking for. This time we had a specific need so I told him and he led us directly to a vendor that sold luggage and duffel bags. After about 10 minutes of looking at bags and haggling on price, threatening to leave a few times we got a duffel bag for around $12. Pretty good considering it’s a Nike bag, well…There’s a Nike symbol obviously homemade, sewn onto the side of the bag, pretty funny, but the bag works. We then walked right back to our hotel to pack the stuff up so we could check out and then come back for more shopping, yep, more shopping.
Once we had checked out the owner was nice enough to stash our bags in his locked room while we went out for the next 3 hours or so. So back to the market we walked and once we were back we explored much more thoroughly. The market is actually laid out in a way that makes sense for shopping, if not for knowing where you are being new to the market. All the artisan stuff is in one spot, then all the clothes are together, a crap load of shoes vendors, kids toys, baby stuff, and then the food starts. I wish I had taken more photos but we were busy at the time making sure we kept our stuff. The meat section was something to behold with every kind of dead animal hanging on a rack with people walking by and flies landing on it constantly, I wonder how much ends up in the restaurants. Then the traditional spice and herb vendors with their baskets of product. Giant piles of Bananas and Plantains and the horrible row of cheese with massive 2 foot cubes of the terrible Nicaraguan version of cheese slowly going more rancid in the heat. I enjoyed the basket of live chickens, that one I managed to get a picture of. I also remember watching everybody with their purchases walking around most in the common plastic bag but the guy with two chickens sticks out in my mind. How do you carry chickens, by the neck hanging upside down of course. Makes perfect sense and the chickens seemed rather calm that way.
We eventually kept getting farther and farther away from where we started and made it all the way to some other side of the market, which one I couldn’t tell you. Through a series of lucky turns we made it back to places in the market we knew which were more populated and where we stuck out less obviously. That being said we didn’t see a single white person other than ourselves all morning.
Picked up some more hammocks of course, I finally got a traditional rope one with spreader bars. Lindsay got some little pots for the gals at work and a couple shirts for $5 or less each. We almost bought a bunch of baby stuff for my future Niecephew, but decided against it as they were kinda corny and we were running low on space.
Eventually we left the market, which was a lot of fun if a little warm. I would love to just spend a day there taking pictures of people, vendors, and produce as they would be great pictures. Perhaps bring someone to spot for you so you don’t lose your stuff…
We left the market and headed back to the hotel stopping for a last big lunch at the Artisan Market which happen to be on our way back. It was very meaty of course but I liked the way they did the chicken, there was bacon, can’t go wrong with bacon. Then we made it back to the hotel to grab our stuff and as I went in to use the bathroom I heard the owner laughing at Lindsay as he saw the new stuff we had purchased. Our bags were already pretty full so it did look pretty dumb but Lindsay managed to get it all in. We then thanked him for all of his help and told him we’d recommend his place to many others, so go there. Hotel Regis, straight up (I think North) from the Park near the Artisan Market, about 5 blocks or so and on the right. Simple rooms, very clean, extremely friendly and helpful, and safe.
We did some cab spotting and grabbed a cab to the airport which is a 45 minute trip or so. Cost us $C400, which worked out to about $18. You could probably haggle for a better deal, but I didn’t have any small change left at this point and didn’t really care. After a nice drive through the countryside we eventually made it back into the edge of Managua. This time coming from the North East, which looks a lot better than farther into the West. And before you knew it we were at the airport, way way to early and ready to leave. It’s a small airport, don’t come to early for your flight as someone else will be late anyways 3 hours later.
Had some conflicts with checking luggage so had to move some stuff around so the breakables and photos came with us instead of being checked. Then just chilled, (literally as the AC was a huge change from the last 3 weeks), had some expensive snacks and spent the rest of our Cordobas on some extremely over priced souvenirs in the airport. It hurt. I had spent 1/5 that this morning on similar items in the market in Masaya.
Eventually caught the plane to El Salvador and then another to L.A. It was very sad to leave Nicaragua as it had become our home for the last 3 weeks and we thoroughly enjoyed it and its people. The weather took a while to get used to but eventually you adapt and end up being cold in airplanes and back home. Everybody should come visit this country at least once in their life. It’s safe, as long as you aren’t stupid, and relatively easy to get around if you take your time and make sure of your bus. We wish we were still there exploring the parts we didn’t have time to see….
Spent the night in the L.A. airport, outside of security as it turns out you can’t go through if your flight is for the next day. We got there at about 1 am and our next flight was at 7 am. So we took turns sleeping on a bench with our carry on.
Another very important thing we learnt. The Americans have stupid security rules, everybody knows that. But, what that means is that your checked luggage is not really checked through to your final destination as one would think that means. Turns out, we actually needed to pick up our luggage from baggage claim after our flight and then re check it in again for the next flight. No extra charge but you still have to redo it even if it’s checked all the way through. Stupid. We didn’t do it as we didn’t know.
The next morning we were the first people to go through security at 4 am ish. I even managed to get ‘randomly’ selected for the pat down booth what a joyful waste of time at 4 am. Then when there was someone at our flight desk we checked to make sure our baggage was there and ready and able to go on the next airplane with us. She said yes, she lied. After arriving back in Vancouver later that morning we found out the whole bring your luggage through and recheck it deal and as such our luggage was still in L.A.
So the airport did its thing to make the luggage get to us and eventually we got it…2 and a half days later. Good thing this was the end of the trip and not the start. We almost felt sorry for the customs guys who apparently went through the bags. One, they were packed so tight, getting it all back in must have been near impossible. Second, the duffel bag had a few wet things in it and a whole bunch of dirty clothes. Must have been fun 2 days later opening that bad boy up.
A friend picked us up from the airport and brought us home. We ate and then we slept for most of the day. Man air travel is exhausting.
Onto our next adventure in the world, where ever that may be….