Desperately Seeking Cereal: A Travelogue

| November 20, 2016

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Alone, broke, and abandoned by family and friends, this true story relates how Michael Mangold MD survived being homeless in Nicaragua by using his wits and at times doing the “unthinkable.” With help from unexpected sources like a Roman Catholic priest in Estelí and Mormon missionaries in León, Desperately Seeking Cereal also describes how those who are entrusted to serve the needy and desperate often do so at a cost. If at all.

Desperately Seeking Cereal: A Travelogue starts where Dr. Mangold’s book My Worst Thanksgiving Ever ends: kicking his landlady out after she robbed the house in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua while he was in the Immigration detention center in Managua. For some unknown reason, an Immigration official told Dr. Mangold that he had three days to leave the country. Intending to help a man from Belize (“Cereal”) instead, the good doctor packed all of his remaining possessions and headed to Managua. When he got there, he discovered that Cereal had been released on a holiday amnesty.

Mangold then switched to Plan B, which was to meet up with Cereal in Matagalpa and then travel to El Salvador to fly home. Unable to find Cereal there or in neighboring Jinotega, Mangold headed to El Salvador alone. But he was mugged one more time in Estelí, robbed of his remaining money. That is where he met Father Rafael who handed him a $50 bill and said “go to León, it is safe there.”

Dr. Mangold took his advice and discovered that the priest was right. For almost a month, Mangold lived the homeless life, begging for food and money, and sleeping most nights outside. Desperate and hungry, he eventually returned to Managua, the last place on earth he ever wanted to be again.

The book is a sequel to My Worst Thanksgiving Ever and the fourth in Dr. Mangold’s “Bridges” series. It is a tale of ugliness and beauty, of evil and good, and how all are to be found in the least expected sources.

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