Getting Ready With the Girls in Managua

We drove around Managua for what felt like hours. All four of us girls were squished in the back seat, full from McDonald’s, and eager to get ready together for the night. Roberto (Fernanda’s boyfriend) drove quickly through the narrow dark streets of residential neighborhoods and then around the many large city roundabouts, looking for a cheap safe place to crash at when we got back from the clubs that night. Our first stop was a sketchy looking driveway with a large sign that said “Auto Hotel”– ok so like a Motel 6 right? Um, not exactly.

We swerved into the driveway and scraped the bottom of the Corolla horribly. Ouch. The guys standing outside stared at us like we were idiots. The girls looked at me with a smirk as we pulled forward. All around me I saw plastic colorful curtains covering what looked like large private parking spots. Are these hotel rooms? I don’t get it. Where’s the lobby? The girls started giggling as Roberto talked to the guys outside from his car. I saw a sign that gave the going rate per room by the hour. Just as I saw this, Orlanda turned to me and said, “Quinn, see those rooms? For sex ONLY!” We all started cracking up. A sex hotel, eh? Interesting. The hourly rate for a whole night was above our budget, so thankfully, we moved on.

As we drove, I started seeing auto hotels everywhere. Why were there so many? Yes, I knew that prostitution was abundant here, but was there really so much going on that there needed to be this many? There was one on almost every block! I talked to our friend Gord (from In Nica Now) about it and he made a good point by suggesting it was perhaps because of the amount of people per household. For the most part, families here all live in one small house, so space is limited and privacy is nonexistent.

So where can a young married couple living with mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, 5 sisters and brothers find some intimate time alone? Auto hotels. Makes sense. We also found out that you can order almost anything you want from room service and they are actually very clean inside. I suppose they have to be.

We stopped in at a few more auto hotels, some hostels and a few “normal” hotels, but nothing fit our small budget. I thought Managua was going to be cheaper than San Juan del Sur, but after seeing the prices of the rooms and talking to our friends, we found out that the big city is not exactly cheap. Hence, thousands of people in severe poverty. Living in rough conditions.


It got to the point where we contemplated forgoing even getting a room to just stay out all night long until the morning. The only problem with that though was that none of us girls were ready and we were all looking forward to having that girl time to get ready together. Finally, we found a place! C$200 ($8.48) per person for three rooms. We grabbed our stuff and all of us girls gathered into one room, while the boys watched the UFC fight in the lobby with a beer. We painted our nails, straitened our hair, did our makeup and listened to local club music to get us excited for the night. I felt right at home. This was exactly what my best friends and I did back in California together before a fun night out in the city.

Beautiful Fernada & Me
Makes me happy to know that my girlfriends here in Nica do the same thing! Everyone’s outfits were very colorful and cute, complete with trendy jewelry and of course high heels. Nica girls love their heels–to them it’s the most important part of the outfit so no matter what the circumstances are, you’ll see them wearing cute heels out and about.

I obviously didn’t pack any heels or evening wear, so I had to borrow stuff and the girls were so sweet about it. They picked out my heels, my shirt, gave me black eyeliner (another item I definitely didn’t think I needed in Nicaragua), red nail polish and let me borrow their hair straightener. I hadn’t done this much work to get ready since my girls reunion in San Francisco! It was a lot of fun though–we talked, had a couple of drinks and within 45 minutes, our transformation was complete and we were ready to go out. But first, photos to capture the moment. To capture our new friendship. To capture our new family. By the end of the night we were all calling each other sisters and it was real. For the first time here in Nicaragua, I felt like this was home.
Yep, still the tallest one of all my friends!

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