A long + tiring day. We began by heading first to the Tourism office, where we bought a map, + then set out to perform various city tasks – the sort of thing one can only perform in a city, to do with banks, airlines, etc. We didn’t realise that Managua was the wrong sort of city for such things. First of all, we took some pictures – the place is so strange. Mostly, it’s a huge wasteland, with here + there odd buildings sticking up, some new developments, + the odd old building which survived the quake. In these – some whole, some just shells – families can be seen squatting. The government has got around to laying out roads, + various new + attractive parks (quite a far-sighted policy, really) but not much else. Oh yes, + political slogans too, all over the country, everywhere – painted on walls, on banners, on billboards. Nonetheless, the evidence we’ve seen suggests the government, Communist or no, is making an effort, + managing to get things done. However, from our point of view, the biggest hassle of a city without a centre is that everything is so far apart. We took a long bus ride, had breakfast, + then another one (bus-ride, that is) to visit the Bank of London, which we’d heard gave dollars (they didn’t, at least to us.) Bus again to Post Office, as marked on our map, to buy stamps. Turned out to be Admin Office only, hence useless. Another bus, and much walking back + forth, to find an air-line office, to buy an MCO (an open ticket)… once again, our map was at fault, so we didn’t really find a place at all. What was more, with all our walking, riding, + frustration, we got angry with each other, + had a flaming row. Val wanted to leave this afternoon, I wanted to put it off till the morning. And the worst of our day was yet to come.
Rather than retrace our route, we tried to find a bus which would carry us back more directly, + ended up in the wrong place. It didn’t look too far tho’, so rather than fuck about with more buses, we walked… about 3 miles. We were shattered when we got back. But a rest soon healed things, enough for us to venture out again, to the (real) Post Office. A cheap but dull meal in the evening, then cards. I had my way – we stayed till morning, tho’ thro’ force of circumstance, not argument.
As I said yesterday, a very strange city indeed – though I expect it looks much the same as any other by now. And my comments on the efforts of the government are a little more generous today. One of the buildings which had survived – or, I suppose, had been built since the earthquake, was a very futuristic looking American hotel – it might have been a Hilton, but actually I can’t remember. The word was that they served an all-you-can-eat American breakfast for just $5. We were sorely tempted, but with the cost – taking up our daily budget – and the difficulty of getting there, meant we didn’t bother.