Chapter 13

This entry is part 14 of 44 in the series Smile

Chapter Thirteen — Managua

The next day we drove back to Managua. I paid Chase for his services, and got Jock and myself a room at the Gran Hotel. At least we would enjoy the comforts of a good bed for a couple of nights.

“We will stay in the city for a day or two,” I said to Jock, “then we will fly over to Siuna and try our luck there.”

We were both very tired from our long trip, and the thought of a restful night’s sleep got us to bed early.

The next morning I asked Jock to show me around because I hadn’t seen the city yet, and we began the tour.

“The main street running in front of the Gran Hotel is Roosevelt Street. It is named for the late Franklin D. Roosevelt,” said Jock.

“How come?” I asked.

“Over thirty years ago the city was destroyed by earthquakes and fire, and your President Roosevelt sent down much help and much money to rebuild it. So, they named the main street after him. Didn’t you know that?”

“I guess I am pretty ignorant,” I said. “A month ago I couldn’t” even spell Nicaragua.”

He looked at me in astonishment.

We walked down Roosevelt Street a couple of blocks and there was Central Park and Lake Managua. “What a beautiful lake for boating,” I said. “Are there many boats?”

Jock shook his head. “There is only one boat.” He pointed to a large yacht anchored several hundred feet out. “That boat belongs to President Somosa. It was a gift from President Roosevelt. They were very good friends.”

“Why aren’t there more boats?” I asked.

“People here cannot afford pleasure boats. Some have small rowboats for fishing and that is all.”

It didn’t seem right; a big city, a lake and no boats.

We walked back uptown. The stores here were quite modern.

“This is practically a new city, built since 1930. There are many dry-goods stores stocked with big bolts of cloth piled high. Cloth of every kind and color. Most everyone here makes their own clothes. Nearly every home has a sewing machine,” Jock explained.

We came to a sewing machine shop. Some of the machines were late model electric, but most of them were the old treadle type that are run with the feet — all brand new machines. There were some modern hardware stores and almost everything they had to sell had been made in the United States.

Farther up was another street that crossed Roosevelt. “This is ‘Fifteenth of September Street,'” Jock said. “That is the day Nicaragua gained independence from Spain.”

Farther on was another street crossing Roosevelt, named Market Street. This was a sight to behold. Anyone who had something to sell could bring it here. The natives from all over the surrounding country brought in their pigs, chickens, vegetables of all kinds, pineapples as big as water buckets, iguana lizards, and armadillos tied up with buckskin thongs. There was clothing of all kinds. Women were carrying trays of lemonade and baskets of fruit on their heads.

Small foreign built taxis were dashing everywhere. It didn’t take me long to learn that the automobile has the right-of-way. The drivers didn’t seem to care if they ran over you or not. Jock suggested that we get in one and look the town over. We climbed aboard and had a wild ride about the city.

On a hill I saw the Presidential Palace, the home of President Somosa. It was really a palace, this huge stone building surrounded by high walls and many soldiers stationed at their posts. The blue and white Nicaraguan flag was flying from a pole high on the palace roof.

Next to the palace was another beautiful building and from a pole on its top another flag was flying. I couldn’t quite believe it. There was the good old red, white and blue United States flag flying proudly alongside the blue and white of Nicaragua.

“That is the United States embassy,” Jock explained.

A warm feeling came inside me and I felt good seeing the two flags flying side-by-side.

Jock had been an excellent guide. To reward him I suggested that we go to see our old friend Fermin, and kill a few bugs in our belly.

To this Jock readily agreed, for tomorrow we would fly to Siuna.

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