I'm glad I decided to go to Matagalpa. For its really a sweet little place, dotted with cafes, cheap eateries, supermarkets, parks, small departmental stores and interesting clothing shops, all relatively central, along two main streets that run almost parallel to each other. And in the surrounding mountains tumble a collection of houses and shacks, reminding me of favelas in Brazil, poor yet picturesque.
I arrived on a Saturday, in the late morning, right when the city was at its liveliest. Lots of people shopping and strolling as loud, cheerful Latino music of perpetually the same beat blasted from the many storefront speakers around. It was like how the guidebook described it - "moving with enough noise, speed and pointlessness to make you feel like youre performing a cameo in some caffeine-addled existential comedy".
Had excellent coffee at Cafe Barista Duo on the opposite side of the street from the supermarket called La Matagalpa. It was tasty, addictive, and I loved the exquisite latte art. The crepe that I ordered wasn't too bad too. Western-style comforts for Latin American prices!
Snagged a room with a great view for a great price, C$230/night. It was quiet too, which was an additional bonus. For want of anything better to do, tried to hire a Spanish tutor. In the end the "contact" that was recommended by the owner of the hotel turned out to be a girl 1 year younger than me who had no idea how to speak English, or how to teach Spanish for that matter. She spoke extremely fast even though I clearly did not understand and told her to slow down repeatedly. And kept using complex sentence structures. Whatever. At least she invited me to the pool with her and her friends the next morning. It was an interesting experience. We took photos, I showed them pics of my life at Brown, and we tried to communicate in halting Spanish.