Bars, fried food stands and even religious services continue without interruptions in the capital, despite the pandemic. And, for lack of movie theaters, the drive-in cinema was revived.
Text and Photos by Nayira Valenzuela (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – There is a Managua in which there is no pandemic. One in which from nine o’clock at night, the nightlife for many is just beginning, despite the fact that the capital is the city with the most infections and deaths from coronavirus, according to the independent monitoring of the Citizens Covid-19 Observatory.
Nightlife in times of coronavirus extends frm the so-called “zona rosa” (restaurants and bar area) towards the revived center of the old Managua, where a drive-in cinema has been reinstalled, there are free tickets to recreational centers and the parks remain open. It also reaches outlying areas, such as the sidewalk of a Rubenia bar, where tables have been set up to crowd a clientele who eats, drinks and dances, without masks or (physical) distancing.
On a two-night tour of Managua, a Confidencial team observed that the majority of those who continue the nightlife in the capital are young people between 20 to 35 years of age. However, there are those over 50 who also do not make use of any pandemic preventive measure.
In many businesses, guards, waiters and bartenders wear face masks, and even gloves. At the entrance there are also those who ask clients to clean their hands with gel alcohol gel or to sit a table in between. But not everyone listens to the recommendations, and those who wear masks are more like an exception.
The latest weekly report of the Citizens Observatory registers until July 8 in Managua 3,287 suspected cases of coronavirus, equivalent to 41% of the total of 7,893 reported infections throughout the country. Furthermore, 838 deaths from the pandemic were recorded, which is 38% of the 2,225 recorded nationwide. But these figures do not stop those who gather in bars, restaurants, discotheques and recreational centers, or for “normality” to continue in a capital already depressed by the economic crisis.
“What we are doing is to survive,” says mariachi Fernando Gutierrez, who belongs to one of the eight of 25 groups that still perform in the popular Bello Horizonte roundabout businesses.
“Many customers we had before have died from the virus. We had one that always called us, he caught the virus and unfortunately passed away,” regrets Gutierrez, who admits that it has been a month without playing a single serenade, despite the fact that the cost of the song session has dropped from 2,500 cordobas to 1,500 or even to 1,000 (1 USD = 34 cordobas). Every night he arrives at one of the places where many people from the capital used to stay until dawn. Although now, there are less, some of them come to ask for a serenade.
All tables are full
The night progresses, from nine o’clock at night, the nightlife begins for those taking more risks. In the Hippos area some bars look empty, the discotheques begin to fill up and the only ones taking precautionary measures are the waiters and bartenders with their masks and gel alcohol, which they also distribute to those who enter, to try to mitigate the danger of contagion.
The age range of the attendees are the same, between 20 and 35 years of age. In a bar in Rubenia, all are crowded, the space is small, the tables are almost all together and none with a mask. In certain bars in Managua the location of customers is a table in between.
About 50 people are in a bar in the outskirts area of Managua. This time there are 50-years-old adults dancing and drinking. There are tables even on the sidewalk and all are occupied.
A tour around Managua
The places that are mostly empty are the restaurants, most clients prefer home delivery to consume their food. There are certain businesses that are beginning to reopen the eating service on the premises and those that are already doing so locate their customers a table in between.