Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sperm Mural!

This is my favorite mural in Nicaragua. Located between my house and my favorite juice bar, I get to see it often. It's painted on the wall sorrounding the lady part clinic.

I just wanted to share.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Adventure! Excitement! Ometepe!

Ometepe. The holy grail of Nicaragua vacation spots for tourists. And I can see why. It's beautiful and has a very unique geology. Formed by two volcanoes and the small land bridge between them, Isla de Ometepe is a beautiful island. Located in Lago de Nicaragua, home of the only freshwater shark in the world, you can only get there by boat. And sometimes, the seas are a bit rough.

Friday morning I awoke at 6am to get ready for work. One of my friends from Spain told me to be back by noon so we could head out to catch one of the three buses we would be on that day.

After packing my bag rather quickly, we left the hostel around 1pm and caught route 262 from our hostel to the bus terminal at Mercado Roberto Huembes. The bus to San Jorge left at 2:30, so we had time to grab a quick lunch of gallo pinto, queso, tortilla and avocado. (C$35. What a bargain!)

Due to our lunch stop, we were a bit slow at getting on the bus. All the seats were taken and we ended up sitting on buckets in the back of the bus where Núria made friends with a fella from Ometepe. He talked to us for the entirety of the two and a half hour ride and invited us to a fiesta at his parent's house that Saturday.

We got off the bus at the boat dock in San Jorge and paid C$50 for passage on a rather janky looking boat. (We had missed the last proper ferry of the day).

This wasn't exactly our boat, but it was just as janky. And called Tilanic, which I found to be rather impressive based upon how unsinkable it looks.

We rode on the top of the boat. The sky was getting stormy and the waters were a bit rough. At first, it was kind of entertaining to be tossed around a bit in the middle of a giant, shark-filled lake. After about an hour and a half, though, it was less fun and more nauseating. I am pleased to say that none of us got sea sick.

We arrived at the dock on Ometepe after it was dark. Our new friend and guide, Ash, took us, by shuttle, all the way to the hostile in Altagracia. The shuttle was super crowded and I, at 5'7'', seem to be one of the tallest people in Nicaragua. I was standing on the shuttle and had to be hunched over so as to avoid rubbing my head to aggressively against the roof of the bus when we went over bumps on the rough dirt road.

Our hostel in Altagracia was C$70 a night, and I would say it is worth about that. The roof was tin with a few leaks in it, and it rained our first night. Actually, it monsooned. The grounds were flooding and, after having dinner and sharing a liter of Toña, we decided to go to bed.

Now, I read a lot and, as part of preparing for living a year in Nicaragua, I had to read all about the weird disease's I could potentially get. My personal favorite is Chagas Disease. It is incredibly rare, and I know this, but the idea of a Chagas bug dropping from the ceiling onto my face while I was sleeping was enough to keep me awake most of the night. Especially since every time a raindrop leaked through and landed on my face, I was convinced it was a bug.

For those of you who don't know, Chagas Disease is transmitted by a triatomine bug, commonly called the kissing bug. These bugs hang out, primarily, in poorly constructed ceilings and, at night, drop onto people's faces while they are sleeping, bite them near the mouth to drink some blood and, to add insult to injury, then defecate in the wound. Totally disgusting. And, as most people's initial instinct when bitten is to rub the wound, they are rubbing bug spit and feces into their faces. SO GROSS. And that is not all. After that, anywhere from 5 to 30 years later, about one third of people bitten develop Chagas Disease which can cause your heart to swell, then you die.

So, yeah. I had a hard time sleeping that first night.

The next morning we awoke at 7a, showered, breakfasted, and met up with Ash to go to the waterfall at San Ramón. This involved taking the bus from our hostel near Volcan Concepción to the other side of the island to the dormant Volcan Maderas, walking several kilometers, then hitching a ride in the back of a pickup. It was a 3 km hike from the trailhead, which sounds easy, but it was all uphill. I thought I would die.

But the waterfall was quite lovely, and incredibly tall. And the water was incredibly refreshing after the uphill hike.

After hanging out at the waterfall for a bit, we got our things together and headed back down so we could get lunch and work on hitching a ride back to Altagracia, or at least to the bus stop.

We got back to our hostel in Altagracia around 6p and had just enough time to shower and get ready for the fiesta! Ash came to pick us up at 7p (and by pick us up, I mean meet us and walk us to his sister's birthday party).

Ash's family lives in a small community outside Altagracia. We walked along dark dirt roads with no light to get there. Rather dangerous, considering all the potholes, but the stars were amazingñy beautiful. And I saw fireflies for the first time. One was down for the count and on the ground flickering. So sad. Yet so beautiful.

We walked for about 20 minutes in the dark before we heard music and started heading towards it. The girls and I were the only foreigners who weren't family members present. I was the only person not from either Nicaragua or España. And I had the best time ever.

There was food and drinks and really bad music from the late '80's and early '90's playing (think Bryan Adams) and, after dinner had been served and eaten and people had had a few cocktails, the dancing started.

I dance like I speak Spanish; it's awkward, not very pretty and half the time people are wondering what in the hell is going on. And I had so much fun. There was a fella there that dances so well. My friend, Fina, also dances quite amazingly, so the two of them dancing together was rather impressive. At one point in the night, there was a Nicaragua/España dance off. Fina vs. one of Ash's sisters. It was a sight to be scene. it was like the dance off scene in Grease, except way better. Later on Horacio, the fella that dances really well, offered to come to Managua and give me dancing lessons and Spanish lessons, too! For free. I respectfully declined.

When the dancing was dying down a bit and the oldest and youngest of the crowd were heading home, a group of us walked down to the beach and drank rum and chased the waves. It was really pretty. But eventually, we realized how late it was and how much we wanted to do the next morning before our afternoon ferry to the mainland, so we hitched a ride back into town in the back of a pickup, along with about 10 other people. I still had my cocktail in my hand and, surprisingly, did not spill it. I have discovered my hidden talent! Too bad it's illegal in the US.

We had a few more beers when we got back to the hostel and I went to bed around 3am. Imagine my dismay when, at 6:30am, the girls are knocking on my door demanding that I get up so we can go to Ojo de Agua and La Punta before our 4p ferry.

I did get up, rather grumpily, showered, dressed, packed my stuff and we met up with Christian, one of Ash's friends, and he took us to Ojo de Agua.

Ojo de Agua was nice. It was $2 to swim there and breakfast was a bit overpriced, but I could've easily lounged away my hangover there. But no.

Instead of spending my day by the cool, still waters of Ojo de Agua, we went and caught a bus. A bus that was ridiculously crowded. A bus where I could hardly breathe and people kept stepping on my feet. A bus that I was on for over 2 hours. I wanted to die.

But, eventually, we made it to La Punta. And, as I am constantly learning new words and phrases in Spanish, I learned the difference between "punta" (point) and "puta" (bitch). It's kind of similar to the English bitch and beach. Kind of difficult, because they sound so dang similar. But, now I know. Unfortunately, with that knowledge, there is the fact that every time I hear one of the words, I will think of the other and either forevermore confuse them or never more. Who knows?

We played in the water a bit, did not get eaten by sharks, ate some lunch and hitched a ride back to the main road where we parted ways with Christian and began the long walk/hitchike to the ferry dock.

We enjoyed some sodas, checked out the local hotties and caught the 4p ferry back to San Jorge.

From San Jorge, we caught the bus back to Managua, went back to our hostel and passed the F out.

It was really fun, but I wish I had been there longer than just a weekend.

I think the most important thing I learned during my weekend in Ometepe is to always be ready for a fiesta.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Date With a Man From Honduras

I have been living in Managua for a little over a month now, my Spanish isn't as good as it could be and it's a bit difficult making friends when you talk like a retarded three year old. It's always nice when people don't mind so much that you only understand a third of what they say and are tolerant of speech mistakes and poor sentence construction.

Sunday, I was recovering from a sore throat by drinking hot water with rum and fresh lemon. I was sitting in the main room, watching the Nicaragua-Mexico soccer match and Alvin, a dude from Honduras, turned to me and asked me if I like soccer.

"I'm from the US. I think it's against the law for me to like soccer," I replied, in my broken, non-sensical, Spanish.

He told me that if I understand the rules, then I will like it. So he started explaining to me what was going on. I learned what yellow cards and red cards mean. It was terribly exciting. And I don't think the Nicaraguan team was all that good. But that could just be my ignorance talking.

After the match, I went to my room and decided to listen to some music and read before I went to bed. But no. There was a knock at my door, I opened it, and there was Alvin, inviting me to a movie. I told him I wasn't feeling well, he told me it was only a movie. So, I agreed.

He bought tickets for Up, the Disney/Pixar movie. I don't think he knew what it was. We had about forty minutes to kill before the movie started, so we went to one of the bars in the food court and had a couple beers. We talked. Well, he talked and I tried to make sense of it and I tried to talk and he tried to make sense of it. Alvin is about 5'4 and loves heavy metal and black metal, dresses all in black, has long hair and one ear pierced. He kind of looks like a tiny pirate. And did I mention his name is Alvin?

So, we go in to the movie and as soon as it starts, he lifts up the armrest. I didn't know the armrests went up, so I put it back down. This happens about three times. He lifted it up again and put his hand on my leg. I took his hand off my leg, put it on his leg and put the armrest back down and held it down with my arm. Then he tried to put his hand between my legs. I moved his hand back on to his leg. He tried to put his hand on my breast. I put his hand back on his leg and moved over a seat. He followed me. And so on. Now, just so you know, there were only two other people in the theater and they were watching the movie. I think.

So, the entirety of the movie involved Alvin being all hands-y. And, apparently, he thought saying "beso" meant I would kiss him. I just shook my head and pointed at the movie. And he kept talking to me in Spanish, but super fast and I didn't understand him.

After the movie, we took a cab back to the hostel. I unlocked the gate, looked at him and said, "Gracias por la pelicula y buenas noches." And I left him at the door to his room. But he followed me to my room. I told him I needed to sleep. He kept following me. He seemed to think that saying the words, "condom" and "kiss" were a form of foreplay or something. I don't even know.

I get to my room with him still following me and I unlock the door and stand in the doorway facing him and say, again, "Buenas noches." He wouldn't let me close my door and tried to push it open so he could come inside. I think he thought that if he could make it into my room, I had to have sex with him or something. It was strange. So, I pushed him out of my room with both hands, again said good night, and closed and locked my door.

I am, like, three feet taller than this dude. Just because I am tall, blonde and have freakishly large breasts does not mean I am going to have grown up time with every tiny Central American man that says the word "condom" to me. Oh, and my tiny friend Alvin also had told me that he kind of has a child and a girlfriend. How do you kind of have a child? And, Mr. 22 year old Honduran metal head, I am not only 12 feet taller than you, I am also about thirty years older than you.

So I think I may need to avoid dating until my Spanish skills are much improved. Unfortunately, all the hot, respectable men in Nicaragua between the ages of 25 and 32 are all either married or living with their ladies and have kids. I suppose my blonde-ness and blue-eyed-ness are exotic and interesting and they want me for the same reason Teddy Roosevelt like to shoot elephants, for the exotic conquest.

I just need to sharpen my shank, sharpen my wit, and get fluent in Spanish shit-talking. Only then will I be prepared for the dating scene in Nicaragua!