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El Callejón de la Muerte – The Death Lane

Dominga has been homeless all her life. Before living in the Chureca, she hung out with youth gangs in the largest market of Managua. In the Nicaraguan capital, everybody knows el “Callejón de la Muerte”, a lane next to one of the busiest intersections of the market, that belongs to prostitutes and drug dealers. When we arrived there one Saturday morning, the women quickly went into their wooden shacks. And the few men disappeared as well, when they saw the camera. After talking to one woman, who had stayed on the street with her child, a few women slowly came out again and started to share their stories off camera.

Sex in the Death Lane is cheap, extremely cheap. These women will sell their body in their tiny shack for about $4. A lot of them have children hanging out on the street and waiting for their mothers to be done with their customers. The women have spent years in that place, sharing the lane with men who mostly sell glue, the cheapest drug in Managua. In the lane of death, everything is for sale. You can also find cheap bootleg CDs and DVDs, toothpaste, cellphone covers. But sex and glue are definitely the main trades there. For $1, you can get a full container of glue, enough to get you high for a few days.

It was also really interesting to see how calm the lane is in the middle of a busy market. Some people – mostly men – walk by, but most people avoid this place. Edelmira Lopez, the associate producer of By My Side, Nicolas Garcia, the director of photography, and I spent quite some time with the two ladies you can see in this video as they talked about the life in the market. Dominga had left it, because she says people were giving her a hard time for sniffing glue. And that is partly why she ended up in the Chureca, the Managua city dump.