Roaring ATVs in Managua

I arrived in Managua mid afternoon May 10th- Wednesday.   I met with my friend and fraternity brother, Alejandro, at the Managua mall.  The shopping center had a big open airy feel and let in a lot of light.  There were typical high-end
stores like Steve Madden.   As always, the arrival was adventurous.

We had driven from San Juan Del Sur, the paradisal beach community on the fishing harbor.  The boats bobbed peacefully in the water which went on endlessly glistening like a million diamonds strewn across a blue blanket.  The Pacific.

The coast was a 20-minute single lane drive from to the main road, which was also only 1 lane.  The generally straight road lead to the capital city, Managua.   We passed a boy leading a bull carrying logs.  We passed shacks homes to locals along the side of the street who sold flowers and food.   Third world countries are a mix of the past with the modern era.   Some aspects of civilization haven’t evolved in efficiency while technology and the upper class have.

In Managua, on a suburb road, we were working to navigate our way to the meeting spot, the mall.   While  at a flashing red light, not confident how to properly observe this traffic signal in Nicaragua, we paused and looked around.  The police car behind us tooted, suggesting we continue on.  Very well, and we rolled on through cautiously.   Then, that same  police car pulled us over for “going through the red light”.   In the language of facial expressions, we asked “are you freaking kidding?”.  In the language of weak authority, but absolute leverage, he said “no”

We asked if $20 US dollars was what he really wanted.  He said “no, but I suppose I’ll take it if no one is watching” and did.   Thursday’s lesson: Nicaragua’s police corruption and bribery 101: False traffic stops.

We soon after arrived at the mall, met Alejandro and resturned to his beautiful home in the gated community.  We ate dinner with the family and showered before heading out. They first took me to the country club. I tried to explain to Ale my “budget travel” situation, but he still insisted on showing off.  Ron Flor de Caña and cokes, tequila shots, pyramids, blue lamborghini mix drinks drenched the night into a thickening blur,- With the Blue Lambos, they actually lit the night on fire.

At some point Albert fell out of the stationary pick up’s window.  We stopped for snacks at the gas station and I curled into bed with my new best friend: “fluffy pup”.

When I woke, fluffy was gone. Now I know how it feels 😦 . We ate breakfast
which was similar to being at a restaurant, except there was a lot
more white lace and the dishwaer was nicer. I read til about the 100th page of “Marching Powder”, which I’ve been caring around since the start of the week, and relaxed by the pool’s reflection of the rising sun.

Ale then lead me outside because we were going to ride ATVs. These are different than quads because they are bigger, enclosed by roll bars, high powered and mean vehicles.

The only instruction given to me was how to turn the key and shift
into drive. The rest was up to me to learn with trial and error. We rumbled off the property and onto the paved road. Out the neighborhood gates, down a few more
roads and to the gas station where I bought an avocado from a shy and
frail framed boy.  I bought the avocado mostly out of sympathy with the excuse
of probably being hungry later.

We rolled towards the mountain- the 3 of us single filing down the
unpaved dirt road. The bulging tires kicked up dust. I was the
caboose and had the heftiest helping of dirt to eat. Clouds of dust
made it problematic to see, my eyes were squinted practically shut. I
remember wondering if Asia used to be extremely sandy and windy way
back when, causing the oriental people’s eyes to adapt to be more
slanty/horizontal the way mine were in that moment. Someone told me the other day “oriental” is no longer politically correct. Is that true?  I mean it without

The dirt roads were sparsely littered with pedestrians, stray dogs and
garbage. Every time we passed children with their mother I would
wave with exaggerated enthusiasm. The kids would look at me with a
look of bewilderment, but the moms kept returning the wave with even
more excitement than I had showed them. Finally once in the quieter,
cleaner, fresher mountain air I received waves from children about the
age that they start losing baby teeth. I even high fived 5 in a row when I rolled by. There was the occasional shack-home, but other than that it was only nature.

When we slowed, I wiped my eyes with my white-T, which was now grayish,
and even darker where the cloth had cleaned my sweaty, dusty face. I
tasted sand when I went to lick my lips that were feeling dried. The
path was maybe twice the width of the ATV-Quad-Carts at it’s widest,
and these too had barbed wire along the right side, steep sloping vegetated
plunge to the left. We had an incredible view
of the city of Managua, Alejandro’s land. Masaya Volcano was smoking,
and is predicted to blow soon. I asked if they meant it was expected
to trickle out some lava or actually erupt. The answer got me very
excited. I really hope I see some flying lava, that would be gnarly
and a killer photo – FB cover photo fo sho.

On the other side of the mountain the path was much greener. Gunning
the gas and climbing the path sent a buffet of freshly cut green
scents into the air. Most of the morning I was sucking diesel and
dirt, but this was the smell of fresh cut grass, as well as about
4 different freshly cut plant scents I had never experienced before.
The smells came in waves, sometimes mixing, sometimes disappearing.

Going down the hill I was pumping the break and watching Ale’s
hydraulics hard at work. These vehicles were no joke, they took us
down, into, and over streaming water that had crossed and cut the path
more than 15 inches deep. The path eventually lead to a resting spot
where we parked and followed the sound of flowing water. It brought us to
a waterfall, maybe 50 feet high.. maybe 45. half up that water fall was a
collection of water than damned before falling further to the floor.

I was determined to get up the wet mossy rock to that bath. I wondered if this next lunge for the higher rock was worth potentially missing, falling and breaking my arm or cracking my head. I decided it was definitely not worth it. I still went for it though and succeeded. Hell yeah, Gringo Estupido was the first up. Eat that Nica-nation! The water was delicious. Again I wondered if drinking the water was worth the potential risk, realized it wasn’t and drank any ways. This water is WAY better than the bottled filled by the sink back in the vehicle. I rinsed my face and sat for a moment admiring the nature. There is something so beautiful about nature that I can’t explain well enough. It is alive and changing, beautiful without trying and absolutely never judging. It is a place of calm and serenity.

I did not expect that kind of trip, Ale surprised me big time- it was
the best four hours spent in Nicaragua yet.

manajemos = we drive… fyi.


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