I asked around and did online research, and the only way to get to Matagalpa was 2.5 hours on the chicken bus. I barely slept on Friday night I was so nervous about the morning bus ride. Things I worried about: not getting a seat, losing my bags, missing the bus, getting robbed. You know what? It was awesome!
I got to the bus station early so I could get a good seat, and it worked. The bus driver gives out assigned seats! I got a window seat (score) near the back door (double score!). I was able to put my bags above me and a woman sat next to me and that was it for the whole trip. Easy peasy. Nothing like Rivas! I had worried for nothing.
The scenery was really nice and included animals (saw some big pigs!), volcanoes at the beginning, followed by some fields, then some green grass (been a while since I’ve seen that) and then the mountains around Matagalpa. And the road was in great shape so no carsickness either. I was so happy I smiled for most of the bus ride. It made it even better that I was scared to do it, did it anyway and ended up enjoying it.
Once I got to Matagalpa there was more of doing things alone and enjoying them!
The friendly receptionist at my hostal told me there was a big Matagalpa baseball game happening at 4pm and told me it was an easy taxi ride away. I did some walking around the town and getting settled in my room and was ready to go at 3:45pm. I couldn’t find a taxi. They were either all full, or backed up because of the parade that was happening in the centre of town. Yes, there just happened to be a parade.
I ended up walking to the baseball stadium, with the vague directions I had been given earlier at the hostal – oh yea, it’s past the bus station and then the map ends, just keep going that way. I asked a few people on the way and figured I was going in the right direction. When I typed baseball stadium into Google Maps, one in Managua came up. That didn’t help. I’ll admit, after 30 minutes of walking and not finding anything, I was about ready to start heading back, but I persisted! And I am glad I did. I got to the game about 1/2 hour into it and had a blast.
The game was close. I am pretty sure Matagalpa was playing Managua, but they ripped that part off my ticket and I couldn’t read the opposing team’s shirts. Plus, the scoreboard just said home and visitor, so that didn’t help me. Aside from Matagalpa’s shortstop, who missed every ball hit his way, the players were pretty good.
The stadium itself was nice, mainly for the beautiful setting. Matagalpa itself is surrounded by mountains, so enjoying a ball game with a mountain view is as nice as it sounds. The stadium was small, and all the stands are enclosed in wire so we didn’t have to worry about getting hit by balls.
What was happening in the stands was even more interesting! The food they sell at these games is very different from our hot dogs and cracker jacks back home. At the game, there were women (and a couple of men) walking around with plates of meat on tortillas,
women making quesillos on the spot,
colorful coconut candy,
bags of plantain chips and fresh potato chips – with hot sauce poured on top! –
and everything was really inexpensive! A beer was $1. Can’t get that in North America. A bag of the chips was 33 cents. People were eating it up!
Also of interest: when people were finished with their beers (only sold in cans), they would just throw them down the bleachers to the floor. There were very young boys with big plastic sacks collecting them. I guess they got paid for the job or by the can. So instead of ball boys, they have beer can boys?
The crowd was great. Old, young, male, female, and everyone was into it. I am pretty sure this was just a pre-season game, but the crowd was really passionate and fun. It got very loud, especially when Matagalpa caught up.
It was a long game – almost 4 hours – and Matagalpa won in the end. And I made it there.