A day of chilling and planning; we booked buses, bought food, found places to eat, contacted the trekking people, researched cultural activities and slept in! We all woke at different times and so by the time we were all up it was time for brunch and we were hungry. The girls went off in groups to find their own food and explore the town. Most of them didn’t go far from the Parque Central and none of them went downhill so they didn’t find the main market. However, they enjoyed the tourist marketed in the square and came back with ideas for dinner and bellies full of pancakes!
We went downhill it being the least line of resistance and the opposite direction from the day before and we found the market. A fairly typical town market teeming with people and goods. The stalls lined the crowded streets on both sides, the stench of rotting food, dog faeces and urine was strong, stray dogs and scrawny cats roamed and scavenged from the piles of waste food in the side streets, stalls selling all sorts – clothes, household goods, fruit, veg, phones…and behind them, more shops; dark caverns with more things for sale. The bright sun was hard on our yet to be acclinatised eyes and we shouted an entrance to an indoor market. The dark coolness was welcome but it was the calm and quiet that hit us too. Outside a cacophony of noise, music blaring, people shouting, laughing, talking, constant movement, a mother chasing a child, a child chasing a dog, youths joking and reading, parents calling and scolding, children laughing and playing, a mother feeding a baby and girls and boys helping and working the stalls.
Inside stall holders at clothing and show stalks sat quietly, a few words as we passed to encourage us to buy but clearly realising that we were not prospective customers. Men and women working at old treadle sewing machines making and repairing clothes and cobblers tapping, flirting and sewing. As we made our way through the maze of aisles I had a sense of being in a church, an oasis of calm amid the maelstrom.
But we were looking for food ; we came to the meat hall where lumps of liver, kidney, whole pig heads, ribs, and every other bodily part were laid out on the concrete slabs. Surprisingly the smell was not as pungent as I had expected after my experiences in Dalat, Vietnam. Meat have way to fish then vegetables and we were on the outside again. We made are way towards a plume of smoke and a smell that promised cooked food. Enchiladas sizzled in huge woks on charcoal fires. We bought a couple for 80 centavos and they were served on a bed of banana leaf wirh traditional Nicaraguan slaw and a fragrant gravy and chilli sauce. Muy rico!
The afternoon was spent on admin sorting out accommodation, transport, and activities for the next few days. Some girls ventured down to the market to buy food which they brought back to cook for our evening meal. A great first day in Nicaragua.