Settling into life in Managua

Managua is amazing! It has been a little over two weeks since I arrived, and due to the scarcity of reliable internet, I have been unable to add to my blog so far. A lot has happened in the past two weeks, so here comes a brief update!

Managua is a hot, busy city. By 6am the sun is up, beating down on the capital city from a cloudless blue sky. Chickens crow in the early hours of the morning, and stray dogs bark periodically throughout the night. The roads are dusty, bumpy and full of litter, but the vast majority of women I’ve seen wear high heeled shoes, skinny jeans and tight, brightly colored shirts. I wasn’t prepared for that when I packed a bag full of Birkenstocks and shorts!

The roads are always busy, with cars and buses deftly maneuvering past each other at high speeds: there doesn’t seem to be such a thing as pedestrian right-of-way here. Cars and buses use their horns liberally, as if to simply announce their existence on the roadway. Walking down the sidewalk outside of a University or other large public place, you are constantly approached by people trying to usher you onto buses bound for various locations. Granada, Masaya, Granada, Masaya, GranadaMasaya! Virtually non-stop.

Despite its rough exterior, I feel surprisingly at home here in Managua. The craziness of the streets and roadways contrasts sharply to the general tranquility of the people who I have met here. Pretty much everything is approached with a laid-back attitude, and very few things aside from bus commuting are rushed. This includes my class schedule for the upcoming semester. We begin classes in three days, but still have not registered for classes. At home, this would mean you wouldn’t be taking any classes that quarter, but here it appears to be normal. We have been told numerous times to relax, and just show up on Monday to check the posted schedules and find our new classes. Apparently no one really goes to class the first week, anyways. Such a strange concept to me!

I live with a family of three women: a grandma, mother and daughter, who is 18 (just two years younger than me). They are all very sweet, and although I can’t always understand what they are trying to tell me, we get along well. We live behind a pharmacy in a small house that is full of bright colors: the dining room is lime green, with white calla lilies on the wall, my bedroom is pink and purple, and the outside of the house is bright orange and white. It’s sparsely furnished but cozy, and like most Nicaraguan homes I’ve seen so far, its open windows and gated doorways let air flow easily through the house, keeping it cool.

The food here is amazing: to say I’ve been eating well would be an understatement. I usually eat three meals a day with my host family, which include fresh mango, banana, pineapple, homemade tortillas, gallo pinto (rice and beans), meats, fried cheese, fresh juices, and a million varieties of fried bananas. It`s delicious!

Tomorrow we are going to get out of the city and climb a volcano outside of Managua. It will be a welcome break from the past two weeks of intensive spanish courses, and a sort of kick-off for the beginning of the semester at la UNAN.

So far, so good! More to come!