Daily Life in Managua

Good Morning, Birds!

I made 4 trips to Managua to work on library automation projects and stayed in the homes of work colleagues for the last few trips.  Their homes were in neighborhoods dense with trees and foliage, always hot and steamy.

One never needed an alarm clock in Managua residential neighborhoods because the birds provide a free alarm service.  Between 5 AM and 5:30 AM a cacophony of bird chatter greeting the morning grew to a crescendo that no one could sleep through!  The tropical birds were waking and feeding with a chatter that was literally deafening. It sounded almost as though a train were running along the street outside, judging from the level of the bird chatter.  By 6 AM all was silent again.

I got up one day and turned on my tape recorder, so I have a tape of it somewhere but it seems to have been waylaid over the past 30 or so years. If I ever come across it, I will add it here just to show how amazing this chorus was every day of the year.  Perhaps it wasn’t there if it were raining, but I never encountered rain at that hour so I don’t know for sure.

Managua Life

On my last trip I stayed in a beautiful home in Managua in the same kind of neighborhood. On my first night, I sat in the living room talking to friends, occasionally looking over to one wall that was covered by a beautiful, decorative wrought-iron grating. It was attractive, but I wondered what it was doing in the living room.

Eventually I realized that it replaced the wall entirely on that side of the room;  that is, there was NO WALL, just the iron grating. I walked over to put my hand through to verify that the outdoors was on the immediate other side of the grating.  Sure enough, the room was permanently open to the outdoors. We all appreciated the cool breeze that this open wall afforded and tried not to think of the creepy crawlers and flying bugs that must have been frequent visitors to this home.

Temperature Plummets

On that same trip we saw a serious but very temporary drop in temperature, though I was staying elsewhere when that happened.  The newspaper headlines read, “Cold Spell Sweeps Managua:  Temperature plummets to 60º.”  (It was actually probably a Celsius reading that I translated to 60º Fahrenheit).  That felt a cool relief to the more common temperatures well over 100º F, but to the Nicaraguans it was tortuously cold.  Those of us from the SF Bay Area recognized our most common temperature all year long — 60º F!

Told by Mary Engle, TecNica Volunteer