navigating one´s way around managua isn´t the easiest thing on the planet, especially for newcomers like me. places are usually not identified by addresses but by their relation to landmarks, specified further by their geographic location (north, east, south, west) or with respect to other landmarks, such as the lake. for example, the address of the place i´m sitting in right now is: by the military hospital, one block towards the lake then 1,5 blocks down the hill. a pretty logical system if you know where the landmarks are, which ones to use and what direction east is etc.
the other day, taking a taxi to the place i´m staying at was an indication of how complicated it can get if you´re not "in the know:"
me: to altamira please, over by the central hospital
taxista: the what? the central hospital? but thats not in altamira. maybe its a new private one?
me: could be...
taxista: oh, then i don´t know where it is. what else is there? is it by the police station?
me (full of hope again, remembering someone did indeed mention a police station at some point): yes, i think it is.
taxista: ok, then i know it. to the south or to the north of the police station?
me (nonplussed): i have absolutely no idea...
in the end we did find our landmarks, around the corner from the korean store next to the roundabout near the la plancha restaurant.
my favourite one, however, is the legendary "little tree," apparently often used as a landmark eventhough it is not there anymore, used in the sense of "go to where the little tree used to be, then go 2 blocks towards the lake, then 1 block south..."