Managua, the Venice of Central America

Invierno en Managua

It is not a river. It is one of the main avenues of Managua. Everything is normal. It´s just the rainy season.

Invierno en Managua

Sometimes Managua is called the Venice of Central America, because of the many canals that are supposed to lead rainwater through the city from the mountains South of the city to the lake to the North. Managua is catchment area for a very large area, and is very well situated if you are a vegetable farmer. If you want to keep your feet dry, not so well. There is a lot of water, and it comes fast.

With the global climate change and all, the showers seem to come less frequently, but dump more water when they do come. If city hall has been a little slow to clear the canals of garbage, things can become a little drastic (one important use of the canals is as a dump for barrios where the garbage trucks don´t come). The water from the mountains will erupt from a canal a flow through the streets.

Invierno en Managua

Sometimes this means that a barrio like this, lying close to a canal, can be swept away in a moment, leaving people without shelter and sometimes dead. Sometimes, it just means an hour where your car is converted into a life boat, gently rocking in the current.

You can be waiting at a traffic light during just another rainy season squall, like this one:

Invierno en Managua

But before the light turns green again, the median strip has disappeared:

Invierno en Managua

And a moment later the driver of the taxi in front is sensibly standing in the rain, to be able to grab his car if it starts floating away:

Invierno en Managua

Looking sideways, I can see the water getting closer to the top of wall that separates the sidewalk from the canal alongside:

Invierno en Managua

A little later, canal and street are one, as you saw in the top picture of this post.

On the other side of the road, a group of workers from one of the nearby workshops, joking and cavorting with the high spirits often shown by Nicas when things have gone out of control and the only thing left to do is laugh, have struggled their way to the bus stop:

Invierno en Managua

I think they are crazy. But they know better, and the water is already beginning to sink. Ten minutes later, the first bus is fighting its way through the water:

Invierno en Managua

And ploughs steadily on its way, while one of the workers gives me a happy wave: “Oye gringo!”:

Invierno en Managua

The taxi driver behind me, who few minutes ago had his engine flooded like this:

Invierno en Managua

… now waves to me asking for a tow to the side of the road. That is quickly done, and I can happily drive along to pick up Maggan at the school. With a couple of inches of brown water on the bottom of the car, and only an hour late, but another daily life adventure richer.

An hour later, on our way home, we took the photo above of the barrio by the canal. Only the garbage dropped by the flood, still showed what had happened.

Oh, one piece of advice for Suzuki: For cars in the tropical regions: Do not use carpets that can not be removed. River water smells, even after the carpets are dry.

First posted in Danish on June 3, 2008.


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