Technically speaking, I was an illegal alien. I could get deported at any moment. My Central American CA-4 visa had expired.
This visa allows 3 months of combined travel in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
For two months I had been a fugitive from the law, hiding out on active volcanoes and befriending crazy hermits in the woods.
I couldn’t stay on the run forever… it was time to turn myself in and face the consequences.
Thus began another trip into the gritty capital city of Managua, Nicaragua.
Roberto Huembes Market
After waiting in line for 2 hours at the immigration office, paying the fine, and receiving a visa extension, my friend Alexandra and I decided to visit the Roberto Huembes Market to do some shopping for Nicaraguan food.
A taxi dropped us off outside, and we walked into the corrugated steel-roofed labyrinth of stalls.
Passing clothing merchants, electronics repair men, jewelry makers, and hammock ladies, we found ourselves in the meat section. Giant raw slabs of beef were hung out on display.
Enough steak for 10 people was available for the bargain price of only $30 US!
While shooting photos around the market, I suddenly had babies thrust in front of my lens over and over again. Families that owned vegetable stalls wanted to show off their most prized possessions.
Who was I to put up a fight? Babies are often just as interesting as vinegar salsa!
We stopped and chatted with different vendors, asking them about their products, and their lives.
Giovanni used to live in Miami with family, but then moved back to Managua to run his vegetable stall when he couldn’t find work to support the expensive cost of living there.
People Of Managua
After purchasing a few bags of fruit, we attempted to find our way out of the giant maze. Soon I heard someone whistling at us. It’s common for men in Central America to whistle at women, so I just assumed they were acknowledging Alexandra.
We kept walking.
But then I felt a tap on my arm. Turns out there was a hole in my shoulder bag, and a bunch of passion fruit had fallen out to the ground. A local man found it and tried to get our attention, then ran after us to give it back!
Is Managua Dangerous?
In fact all the people I met in Managua were just like this man, ridiculously helpful & friendly. If I had listened to all the warnings for avoiding the city at all costs, I’d have missed out on some great experiences.
Just because a place has a lot of crime, doesn’t mean you should completely skip it. By taking standard precautions, odds are pretty good that nothing bad will happen.
You’ll be awarded with adventures that other travelers miss out on! ★