The time came to leave Granada, with the old Central Plaza, and my hotel with lovely tropical trees and flowering gardens. On the outskirts of Granada I could see Mombacho, a volcano that had erupted in Granada 2,000 years ago, creating this area and the largest lake in Central America.
Patricio had hired a local guide for the day. Henri (Tiki) had a deep, rough voice, and he directed us to a high hill outside Mayasa. It had been an old fortress, but during the revolution of 1979 it became a political prison and place of torture. Tiki took a flashlight and we went inside down into the center of this hill. The prison was all underground.
We went down a ramp and stairs, several stories in the dark, and encountered several bats. There was solitary confinement, torture chambers, and cells where as many as 200 men were confined in a single cell. When the dictator was gone, they released the prisoners and burned the area to cover up evidence. Nevertheless, to this day blood remains on the walls, and the deepest level is still too unhealthy to go there. It was an education to see some of these places. I was glad to leave; outside, I could see Mayasa, the active volcano, with a red river of lava belching smoke and fumes.
My guide mentioned the gas prices when we stopped for gas at $3.70 a gallon. It is now being piped from Mexico.
The Nicaraguan government was very friendly with Hugo Chavez; when he died, President Daniel Ortega’s wife, an artist and appointed Vice President of Nicaragua, dedicated a memorial in his honor. In bright colors are lines of modernistic sculptured trees, huge and lit up at night, in blue, green, red, yellow and purple. As we entered the capital, we saw the trees that lined the median along the central boulevard.
We went up to Tiscapa, a major viewpoint overlooking Managua, at one time the residence for the President of Nicaragua. Here in 1927, General Sandino met with the President, and as he departed the steep hill, the general was assassinated by the National Military. They never found his body. A large black shadow monument of Sandino is on the hill. He is a national hero, and there are monuments everywhere in his memory. The national airport is named after him.
In 1972, a huge earthquake destroyed the President’s mansion and the entire old city. Ten thousand people died and 100,000 were homeless.
F.D. Roosevelt Avenue is seen from this hill. We went to the Monument of the Sandinistas and the ruins of the cathedral. A modernistic edifice has been built on the new side of Managua. We passed the new baseball stadium; Dennis Martinez, a former pitcher for the Montreal Expos, came from here. We dropped off Tiki at a public bus stop and he went back to Granada. Patricio and I followed several walking paths, took time to go to a book store, and found several books by a Nicaraguan author.
Patricio met me the next morning to take me to the Sandino International Airport and say our farewell. Managua was my last stop in visiting Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. I was treated well by the locals and learned a lot from my guides. Travel is a great education and lifetime experience. There are highs and lows on an adventure—that is part of the experience. Central America is an amazing area of the world to visit, and I am happy to have come here.
(posted January 31, 2018)