Esteli – Day 1 : let’s move again

Today, we left Matagalpa. Our friends left to the beaches around Leon, and we stayed in the mountains to continue our tour of socialists strongholds (socialists as in rebels and guerillas here, not old dudes voting for bankers like in France).

The bus was probably one of the worst we took, because it was very full, and also because we were standing up ! The region is very poor and people travel in bus to go working in other cities (and see their kids once a month for 3$ a day, yay). This morning then, the bus was leaving every half hour, we got on and we went, for 2 hours, in a dust cloud, hanging onto the ceiling bars, pushed around by vendors of chicken or miracle herbs (did you know that fenugreek could cure hemorrhoids, cancer and tumors, impotence… it may be true, but certainly not in these small plastic bags going from clammy hands to sweaty pockets).

Esteli is a colonial city (like most cities we go through), but never like locals mean it. They all want us to go to pretty “colonial cities” with old houses, wooden balconies and colorful paints. Sadly, every city doesn’t have as much money as Granada to impress tourists (and the volcanoes erupting and rebels revolting didn’t help). However, every city here has a perfectly orthogonal plan. The houses are organized in blocks of a very regular size and distances are not told in meters but in blocks. It took us a while to understand that when told 100 or 300 meters, we should hear 1 or 3 blocs, whatever their size.

So, all central America cities are similar in these ways : one of the blocks in the center is the Parque Central, one of his neighbors is the cathedral and the city hall is another. One of the avenues bordering it is Avenida Central, streets and avenues are numbered, and just like in New York, only one road disturbs the nicely aligned squares. In New York, it’s Broadway, but here it’s the Panamerican Highway, which is not too bad either (but less lit).

Esteli was simple to understand after this. We went straight for the hostel that we had booked and had trouble finding it. Furthermore, our room had been given to a girl prolonging her stay with some story about a bag that we didn’t get, and we understood nothing. In the end, we went next door and it’s great. When we looked for a nice restaurant that was in the guide, we also had trouble finding it… Turns out, every address is wrongly indicated, which is crazy because they have a super organized street-system, it should be so easy ! I can’t imagine people from here moving to small French villages, with dead-end streets and curvy streets with funny names…

We also paid a visit to the non-profit touristic agency, before we went to eat. In the restaurant, we were acutely observed by the 3 to 6 girls on the next table, and in the end, they all asked us to translate their names. It was easy enough for Maria, but for others, which I can’t even write the name, it was harder. But they all say “Au revoir” in the end, which was nice !

All of this is now ending, we are fed and lying like slugs on our bed. See you tomorrow for more adventures !