Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Guatemala/Nicaragua photos are on Flickr now

Comments welcome!


Oh, and check out the Casa Iguana's website! This was on Little Corn island, Nicaragua. What a great place this was. So hard to get to, so worth it:


Here's a couple of youtube videos I never got around to putting on here.

taxi ride in San Pedro (the driver was an 11 year old boy)

and a view from the main square in Antigua, where all the locals hang out.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Can I stay?

I don´t know what´s wrong with me. I was all set to go see a band at cafe no se (cafe "I don´t know", don´t you love the name?) last night, and at a time I´m too embarrased to say, I laid down and got too comfortable. It´s easy to do, with my new room. It has, what, 15, 20 ft ceilings? It used to be a 15th century convent and a monastary and has high wood beam ceilings and tile floors. It´s right on the big famous yellow arch that I love so much. I stayed in a room with a straw floor a few weeks ago, so I notice things like flooring now. I watched TV for the first time in a while, to ease myself back into civilization. Tonight, I swear, I´m going out. Even though I have an 8AM flight tomorrow.
Apparently I´m also making the transition from backpacker Sara back to my regular Chicago self. I chose this hotel because of the amazing history and ambiance. I may like to slum it, but I also like to splurge once in awhile. So yesterday they tried to put me in one of the modern rooms, hidden in back, NEXT to the hotel, in some sort of b.s. annex. Way back in the bushes. Said nothing else was available. I was like, the only reason I made a reservation here was to stay in one of the monastary rooms, like you showed me, and if you don´t have one I can just move to another hotel. For my last two nights, you sure you don´t have anything?? But I was as polite as possible about it. I got switched back. I felt like a bit of a brat, but I deserve only the finest for my last two nights!! Single people will not get the shaft! And you know what, I love my room. All $75 per night of it, which is actually sort of a bargain. The breakfast is not as good as the BK numero tres, but oh well... I got my dream room and that´s all that matters. Ech, sometimes I hate this side of myself but I would have been really sad and angry with myself for settling.
Today my plan was to go white water rafting. But I guess it´s not the season for that. So I went to the coffee museum, which was actually pretty interesting. I missed the english tour by about 15 minutes, and felt a little pouty when my only choice was the spanish tour. I told the guide that I didn´t speak spanish very well and he agreed to not talk too fast. And hey, guess what - I understood about 60, 70% of what he was saying! Well, I was helped by the super obvious visual aids in the museum but I understood much more that I thought I would. And even asked two questions. And when I saw the big, LOUD annoying Americans in the gift shop, I was secretly glad that I was part of the cooler, spanish group. Even if I was kind of a poser.
I hate this part of every trip, I get really sad to leave. Africa and Asia were a little tiring, so I had home to look forward to, to rest at least. But as you can see here, I did a lot of sleeping and hammock-laying. And have no jet lag to face, not even one hour. So really, the only thing I´m looking forward to is seeing my friends and coworkers again, and to see if my landlord really did knock out and re-do my shower like he promised. Regular Sara hopes he did, but backpacker Sara is more like, eh, at least I have a shower.. and you´ll be lucky if I even use it. Bottom line is that this was a VERY enjoyable trip, and I want to continue my spanish in Chicago, I´m going to look into spanish circle or latin school again. I don´t want the momentum to go to waste. And for goddsake, get this girl some salsa lessons.
For a little closure, here are my Bests of:
  • Breakfast - the BK numero tres!!
  • Dinner - the kingfish at Casa Iguana, tied with the Enchiladas verdes at Frida´s in Antigua.
  • Beer - Toña, Nicaragua
  • Beer label - Gallo, Guatemala
  • live music - Riki´s, Antigua, Cafe Nuit, Granada
  • cheapest room - EVER - the psychedelic hotel San Francisco, San Pedro, $3.50
  • Favorite room - Casa Iguana, casita number 4
  • Boat ride - Big corn island to little corn island. Like a $4 white water rafting trip
  • Bagged snack - those freeze dried taco things, Guatemala

Important things learned in Guatemala and Nicaragua:

  • It´s easier to travel around here than Europe.
  • Reggaeton is everywhere
  • I sorta like reggaeton!
  • What Central American guys lack in height, they more than make up in dancing skills
  • People in Guatemala speak slower than Nicas, Guatemala is the perfect place to learn spanish
  • Refried beans are damn good for breakfast
  • Bedbugs here aren´t messing around
  • If your feet are dirty, you are probably having a good time.
  • Hygeine is overrated
  • Other travellers in Central America are super friendly
  • Chickens come in all sorts of cute logos here (Gallo, pollo estrella)
  • Nicaraguan hot dogs are nothing to be feared
  • I could retire or work in Antigua one day, It feels very homey
  • People who admit to going to 300 plus Widespread panic shows are usually pretty strange
  • Wearing one sweater for 3 weeks is perfectly acceptable
  • It´s surprisingly easy to get used to seeing men with rifles
  • It´s not easy to get used to seeing children working and class differences here
  • Latin culture brings a little warmth and color into my life

El fin

and thanks for reading! If you were reading and not commenting, let me know..

above: the arco, a coffee plant, our coffee tour guide, some textiles made by children in the main square - about the tumultuous times in the 80s - (if you can read it, it´s sad about pregnant women hit by bullets in 1982 and 1985), another chicken bus, the room next to mine (my headboard isn´t that good, but I did have towel swans!)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Nicaragua...making the CTA look good

So I have the pleasure of riding the brown line every day in Chicago. We used to have this idiotic public campaign called "don't be Jack!" to enforce good manners on public transportation. Jack was stick figure who committed such faux pas such as not moving to the back and eating his snack. We stared at the signs on the way to work. Don't be Jack! Don't spill your snack! haha. Yeah, pretty stupid. But really, the folks in Nicaragua could use a dose of Jack. I really hope this was an isolated incident. I was riding the microbus this morning from Granada to the airport. Amour FM was playing, all was good, yet crowded. Then a guy got on, carrying a 4 year old girl, covered in hideous burns and bandages. Her face was completely covered in plastic. They were both very unconfortable. the man for carrying this big kid, and the girl for, well, being covered in burns. And get this. NOBODY GOT UP to give them a seat. So I got up and gave them my seat, being the good little CTA rider that I am. There were plenty of GUYS sitting nice and comfy nearby. Not that I expect any chivalry but you know....No, let the Gringa get up! You can't really stand on these busses without stooping, but there were no bumps and all was good. The father was grateful. We had only about 20 minutes to go. Then, towards the back, a woman got off. A seat, I thought. I'll just move back there. Well, think again Gringa. A big fat man spread out and took both seats as his own. You know those people who don't move over to the window to let someone have the aisle.. like that. A couple other gringos in the back looked at me like "yeah, we saw that too.. unbelieveable". Maybe the big, let's call him, Fat F$%^ did not see me. Oh, he did. So we get to the airport. We board flight 116. But wait, there's a little old woman, maybe 85, 90 years old in a wheelchair. Who keeps trying to get up to shuffle her way over. Does the staff of Copa airlines help her? nope! I was about to help her, but another lady got to her, thankfully. What was all that about? Please tell me it's not always that way.
Our flight was interesting. Lots of turbulence. You know it's a bad flight when people are PRAYING and holding the seat in front of them! haha. I wasn't too worried though, only for a minute there.
One more thing I forgot to tell you about Nicaragua. They shut off the water from about 11AM to 4PM. everywhere. Even in your hotel. Want to take a shower? have to wait. Want to go to the bathroom, FLUSH the toilet and wash your hands? hope you have some anti bacterial gel! Do you have horrific AB? Hope it's not between 11 and 4! I guess that's where the term "if it's yellow, let it mellow" comes into play. They used to schedule power outages in Granada too but they do water instead now. I did enjoy granada for my last night. The first time I was in Granada, I wasn't feeling well but last night I found the live salsa band at Cafe nuit. A 6 piece band, all wearing orange shirts. They were great. I was good and went to bed at a decent hour. Now that I'm back in Antigua, I might find some live music tonight too. I have good memories of being here with various people over the past couple weeks, but I have no issue in going to find music on my own as well. It's nice to be back in this town, I really enjoy it so much. On our shuttle from the airport, this dumb american guy was telling us how he caught hepatitis A, and almost died, because he was afraid to get a hepatitis shot. Then a funny honduran guy told me how HE got hepatitis from eating monkey meat. I could go into some more interesting details, but because I know Kathy reads this, I won't! They are gross!
above, my new gorgeous hotel that's a former convent, the hotbed of little corn gossip, the Sweet Oasia, interesting spelling on Little corn and by popular request (well... maybe for Kellogg... me and mini Hulk
and a bonus video, taking off in Managua on the plane. Yeah, I know it's kinda lame. sorry.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Maize hoy, maize mañana

Little corn island is a beautiful, peaceful island - filled with gossip, intrigue and scandal. OK, ok, maybe I exaggerate. Scandal - yes, they did have a problem with drug trafficking two years ago, when some of the shuttle boats were stopped and searched often. But that´s under control now. And gossip, well, I found that out for myself at the sweet Oasis snack bar.
Whenever you go to a small place like this, after a few days you see the same people over and over and over... I was only on Little corn for 4 days and I had already met over half the tourists, knew who the empanada man was, how to find the bread lady, the coconut bread kids and the town drunk. My eco-lodgey place, the Casa iguana, did not serve lunch so I often went through the woods into town (a 10 minute walk to the other side of the island) for internet and something to eat. You have about three choices. The popular cuban place, the coconut bread kids and the Sweet Oasis, which looks like some ice cream stand from the 50s. I couldn´t stomach any more spicy seafood or rice n´ beans so I dared try a hot dog at the sweet oasis, which is on the main, well, sidewalk, and offers both dramatic telenovellas on the TV and great people watching. The hot dog was not that bad. I never thought that I´d eat a nicaraguan hot dog, willingly, but it had a pleasingly artificial meat taste. A torrid love affair was coming to an end on the TV and to my left was the 20 year old (well, I found out on the plane that she´s fresh out of high school) wide-eyed fraulein straddling the town rasta. I also had the misfortune of talking to Peter, a sun-baked ex pat from Hawaii and god knows where else. We talked about how he ended up on little corn, and how I was trying to learn spanish. "come on... all the spanish you need in Chicago is - MOW MY LAWN CHICO - hahahahaha, am I right?" Peter was an ass. I have a little theory about ex pats who have been living in the tropics too long. Not retirees, but those mysterious people who bounce from tropical place to place, in flip flops and a beer stained shirt. They are usually... como se dice, one beer short of a six pack. He told me a bunch of other half truths about himself, and about my hotel. At dinner, I told one of the owners, a nice girl from Maine, that I had met Peter and what he said to me. Lies, all of it. And we had a laugh about the starstruck young German girl in love with Rasta mon. So... yeah, I guess I contributed to the town gossip. What do you expect?
The Iguana served some pretty good dinners in the three days I was there. Kingfish with bernaise sauce, pork loin and polenta, and a salad with dressing so good that one of my dinner buddies drank some of the dressing out of the bowl. This is where I got to know Susan and Sharon, thirtysomethings from Dallas, along with Emily (producer for HGTV) and Anna (works for Betsey Johnson) from San Francisco. We had our own little drunken hen party of sorts and discovered that we had been to a lot of the same places - US. Vietnam, Nicaragua, Africa. Why on earth don´t more American guys travel to these places? Guys, take note - you could get so much more play if you´d only stop going to "Las Vegas with your buddies" and take some chances. But I digress. Eveyone at the Iguana had a good time at dinner. There was this bizarre old, tiny hulk hogan like sailor guy who I took my picture with, and refer to as my future ex husband. During dinner a giant moth flew up to the rafters, we thought it was a bird. It´s body was as big as a birds´. Then a lizard caught it! Kelly and the Texans tried to teach me how to play Texas Hold em, but I got tired again and went to bed. I seriously don´t know why I can´t stay up past midnight in Nicaragua. Maybe it´s the sun.
I tried to go snorkeling, but the dive boat left without me. So I hung out in some hammocks and alternated between that and swimming. Yeah, poor me. Yesterday morning, Emily, Anna and I took a two hour hike up to the light house-tower thing, and took some crazy detours through the woods to some other beaches on the island. They were funny, smart girls and I enjoyed hanging out with them. Only a little younger than me (but we all agree that none of us look older than 27), they have interesting jobs in another big city so we had plenty to talk about. I also thought it was funny that A & E identified my accent right away - as much as I try to hide it, I have the obnoxious midwestern Chicago accent. haha. We also ran into another pet monkey, I took a video for youtube. I´ll try to post some more videos later.
Today I took a tiny plane back to Managua, with the fraulein and her mother. But she´s going back to little corn in a few weeks to get herself some more rasta! haha. I checked back into my favorite gay hotel (I wonder if they will say to me haaaaaaaaay novia!, OK maybe not...) and I´m going to try that live salsa band place later. I hope they have live music on a Thursday.
above - the playa, climbing the lighthouse, a baby pineapple (how cute), another playa, my outdoor shower.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Afternoon delight

No, I´m not talking about skyrockets in flight, or sticks and stones rubbing together makin´everything right, or everything being clearer in the light of day-ay. (thanks to that un-named, yet good friend who put that on my ipod!) But it really is a dee-lightful afternoon here on little corn. Not much to say, I went for a little swin last night, but we are on the windy, outward side of the island so it was a little wavy and un poco seaweedy. Had dinner with a crew of nice people, had some beef with carbernet demi-glace and cauliflower cous cous, went to bed kind of early and read the memory keeper´s daughter for 3 hours.. had the sea wind blow on me while I was sleeping. I hiked through the woods into town to buy some bottles of water and use the computer. I am still recovering from being jostled senseless from the boat ride, but my shoulder is recovering from my death grip on that piece of wood. The sea looks less angry right now but is it wrong that I secretly hope that I get another ride like that in 2 days? As long as I live, it was the most fun I´ve ever had for 4 dollars.


I bought the most hillarious book in panajachel, when I was waiting for a bus at Lake Atitlan. I was poking around a used book store run by a lady with long, wiry grey hair (of course) and I saw it, and new it would be my "beach book". It was written in 1970 by the former stewardesses who wrote the book´(I´m embarrased to say I´ve read) called "coffee tea or me", a book about how pilots, stewardesses and passengers all got it on in the 1960s mod airline scene. Please don´t read it, it´s a horrible book. And this one looks like it might be just as bad, yet good. It´s called "coffee tea or me girls lay it on the line - a single gal´s guide to life in the swinging 70s". I would bet my life that it´s out of print. It seems to be some sort of lifestyle guide - how to seduce men, how to dress, how to throw parties, how to be groovy in every social situation. It´s very post summer of love, pre 3´s company. Published the year I was born. perfect. Even the font on the cover looks like a good time, and there are two little drawings, one of a man chasing a huge chested woman, and vice versa. After I finish reading about Paul and his sister with Down´s syndrome and their dysfunctional parents, I´m going to read about my whole new lifestyle out on green hammock.


above: beach reading, kids selling coconut bread (it´s good), intersection on little corn, beach, my new house for 3 days

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The strange world of the corn islands

The corn islands are about 70 miles (I think?) off the east coast of Nicaragua. But how different. I flew in an 18 seat plane which was actually not bad at all, and I found big corn island to be one of the most bizarre places ever. Tin shacks and people speak a language all their own here. A mix of english, spanish and mumble jumble of all kinds of strange slangy sayings just from being so isolated from land. I found a hotel from LP, didn't like it, found another and just decided to stay for one night. The natives supposedly speak english, but I found that I understand them much better when we just use simple spanish. This guy above, a typical islander, sold me a coke and of course I could barely understand him! He was really charming and funny though. Another thing about this island. They Loooooove country music. yep! Everywhere you go, you hear some twangy heartbreaking song about losin' a woman or being kicked out one's house. There is also a lot of garbage laying around, which bothers me. Big corn could be so much better if people took pride in their surroundings. The roads (well, there are like 3) are also the most pothole-y roads ever, and it had just rained, so the island was a muddy mess. I laid in my hammock, had some caribbean curry lobster stew with rice, (it had corn in it so I can be satisfied to know that I had some corn on the corn islands) and chatted with some Americans and Dutch people in the restaurant, sat through a little power outage, then it was time for bed. Food is still not going down as smooth as I'd like, but I am getting much better.
This morning I had breakfast while watching a sad monkey named Irma tied to a tree, then went down to the dock for the boat to Little corn. I've heard amazing things about Little corn and I was eager to get there. The boat was one of the most fun and terrifying experiences of my life!! There were maybe 20 of us crammed in there, in this wooden boat, going up swells that must have been 7 or 8 feet, maybe more. It was exactly like being on a roller coaster for a half hour. the boat would go up, everyone would scream, you'd be airborne for a second or two, and the bright blue sea was just at your side. I wanted to take photos so bad, but I could barely hold on. The whole time I was thinking, are you kidding me?? This was two hours ago and I am still recovering. I was laughing and squealing the entire time. I was holding on so tight there was no time to stop and be scared, we all really got our 4 dollars worth. The canadian guy next to me said that little corn is special because it's so hard to get to. I said, yeah, it probably weeds out the riff raff.
Little corn is paradise. In a wet, rainforesty type of way. No cars, no garbage. I'm not sure how much swimming I will do today, there are little bursts of tropical rain but it's really beautiful. Little corn takes about an hour (I think) to walk around, and I am staying on the far side in a place called casa Iguana. It's run by some people from Chicago, who I have not yet met. I looked at a few different types of accomodation and unfortunately fell in LOVE with the most expensive type of bungalow. I wish she hadn't even shown it to me. I kept asking the girl who showed me around about spiders. So, you ever get tarantuals in these huts? Do people ever wake up with a tarantula on them? I'm from the city where there are no spiders. What about wolf spiders? Which huts have the least amount of tarantulas near them?? She confided that the two orange huts were the most spider infested, so I stayed clear of those. I have an outdoor shower and she made sure that I understood that there is ALWAYS a chance of seeing a tarantula in or near the huts, but that they sold alcohol as well so as to better deal with the spiders. The chef at the iguana went to the CIA, and people on big corn told me that "he knows his sauces". The girl who showed me around was happy to hear that I was such a foodie, because the chef is her husband. We all eat dinner together in the main hut like at the Iguana Perdida, so I will learn more about spiders and the people at the Iguana later.. Wow, two places with Iguana in the name. But this is no room of straw. It's way, way nicer!
above, path to my hut, view from my porch, coca cola guy on big corn.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Beneath the surface

I wish I felt a little better, because I am really beginning to like this place. I know that Granada is THE most touristy town in Nicaragua, but I can´t help but notice there is a wierd vibe bubbling beneath the surface here. I can´t put my finger on it, but it´s probably comparatitis from Guatemala. This is how I compare the two:
Guatemala: calm, slower, people with peace on their faces, lingering on the streets, painted signs on the buildings, Mexican style, Mayans, big eyes, weavings, welcoming , more innocence in the children, modesty
Nicaragua: fast, alive, people with slimmer, more cat-like faces and smaller eyes, (wierd I know but I´m not hallucinating), people with coarser hair, desperate little kids, reggaeton and loud horns blaring out of cars, a slight sense of despair, colorful buildings, more hoochie outfits (the muffin top is very "in" here), women tettering around in metallic shoes
I hope that´s not judgemental, but those are some of the observations I have had the past two days. It´s really a shame I´m not feeling better, because I´d love to see some live music and have a few victoria beers, but it´s naps and fruit shakes for me today. I feel like I´m missing an opportunity to see the city better, but today I laid in my fantastic room for 6 hours in the aircon. I have to make myself well before the islands. I really haven´t been taking stellar care of myself, getting up at the crack of dawn, going here and there, not taking vitamins or thinking about nutrition.. This happened to me in Asia too, I had one day where I thought I had the flu, then I felt better.
This morning I woke up early again to go ziplining. I did this with Kathy in Costa Rica and it´s so much fun. There were NO other gringos there, just me and like 6 Nica guys. They took great care of me, and actually I´m glad no other gringos came, because I could talk to them. One guy, Martin, always went before me and Manuel followed behind. I kept complaining about being tired and Manuel would give me shoulder and arm massages, haha. Anyone who knows me knows that I don´t turn down massages! So we´re on the top of a tree, great, can you move it a little to the left? Awesome. Usually I would feel a little strange being on the top of a tree with 2 Nicaraguan guys in the middle of nowhere, getting a massage but it was just another normal day.. This is funny. We drove to the woods on a road so bad that the driver used the shoulder instead of driving on the potholes. On the way there I rode with one guy from New York who was strangely travelling by himself. And I say strangely because american guys rarely travel by themselves! He agreed that girls are normally more adventurous. I met a few girls travelling solo (like Antonella) but every guy is usually in a couple. Why is that? Travelling solo is so much fun, I don´t get why they don´t do it. Australians and Canadians do, though. American guys - rarely.
I was reading in Lonely planet that this is the second poorest country in the western Hemisphere, to Haiti. We did see a lot of african-looking tin shacks out in the woods but Granada is not that bad. And the history is so interesting. The whole sandinista-contra thing from the late 80s. I remember hearing about it when I was in high school. There is definitely some residual hurt from that era.
Tomorrow, Corn! Corn! Not sure when you´ll hear from me again but I´ll try to write. I will be there for 5 nights I think.


This is my lower back.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

the evening of no electricidad

Last night, a strange thing happened in Antigua. The whole town had no electricity all evening. As soon as I realized it was getting dark and was not coming back on, I ran back to my hotel to grab a flashlight and who did I run into but Trisha and TJ from Lake Atitlan. We had arranged to meet for dinner but coincidentally, they picked my hotel! The hotel (the purple looking back shed, you saw the photo the other day) isn´t the fanciest place I´ve ever stayed, but I returned because I was so charmed by the family that runs it and the trees in the backyard. And isn´t the name great - the Jardin de Lolita? Lolita is a 70ish woman who speaks spanish too fast for me to understand her, but her sons always talked to me. The one son always looked like he was having the best, breeziest day ever - and it was contageous.
Trisha and TJ had some funny stories for me at the Lake - they told me all about life in Tegucigulpa - how they had to bribe some police at night at the side of the road, and how their friend had to breathe into a police helmet to act as a breathalyzer (the cop then smelled the helmet, held his licence hostage, and told him to drive to the ATM to take out money!). We went to my old standard Frida´s in hope of dinner, but could only get beer and guacamole due to the power outage. The streets took on a really spooky feel with NO street lights and every place lit by candle light. We finally found one place to eat, in a fancy fancy hotel that had a generator. Our dinners were a little pricey but hey, that´s what emergency money is for. And we got the added bonus of some marimba players - 6 or 7 guys all play ONE giant xylophone-type thing. So we made the best of the wierd evening with good company and funny stories. As we were finishing, Elana and Gary came up to our table - from the volcano tour. Everyone circles back through Antigua. Elana told me that the famous TEXAN was spotted in Tikal. And she had to salsa dance with him the night before! He´s everywhere!
I bid goodbye to my teacher friends and woke up less than 6 hours later for my 6:30 Am flight to Nicaragua. It´s an odd feeling, waking up at 3:30 AM and bolting out of bed thinking, must go to Nicaragua now. The plane was almost empty and when I was flying I had that "uh, what are you doing?" thought, then I arrived in the heat and humidity of Managua. Wow, is it hot here. Guatemala always had cool nights in the upper 50s and gentle breezes during the afternoon. This is maybe 85, 90 degrees, lots of heat! Well, that´s what I wanted, I suppose!
I enjoyed my taxi driver, Henri, but the rest of Nicaragua does not seem to find me as charming as the people of Guatemala. Everything seems much faster, they talk faster, they get a little more impatient with me, but that´s OK. In Guatemala I felt like everyone was HAPPY and slower. Guatemala had a nice pace to it - this is more like arriving in NYC from Chicago, which is fine. I like seeing different types of people and lifestyles. Henri took me to the microbus, where after a near fistfight between microbus drivers for my business (really!) I rode with a bunch of young Nicas to the sounds of loud lite rock on the radio. The station ID was a breathy woman who would purr "aaammmoooourrrrr" between each song. Being in advertising, I notice things like station IDs and dial positions. Granada is also a beautiful colonial town like Antigua, with huge, cavernous bulidings painted different colors, some with lovely fountains and courtyards. I checked into a total dive called the bearded monkey, where I have my own room. and the slogan in the bathroom is "conserve water, if it´s yellow, let it mellow" - classy!
I´m here two nights, then it´s the corn islands for 5 nights. Oh, and I spent over an hour in a bank today trying to cash traveller´s checks, where I also had to go through an X ray. The people in the bank did not find me charming at all. Oh well! I´m not sure what to do tonight - my hostel shows movies and has a happy hour. We´ll see.
above - Granada, my new street, some lake in Honduras or El Salvador, mirimba players!
I´m enjoying the comments!
here are the marimba players. If you don´t have sound, it might be useless. This is for you, super huevo and teabag!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ok, so Nicaragua it is...

Tomorrow morning I´m flying to Managua, then going right over to Granada, which is a colonial village for a few days, then the corn islands. Sorry, the internet here is CRAP and I can barely write a post. I´ll try to upload some more photos later.. but I have a lot of errands to run in my last day here. I will give you an update from Nicaragua. Tonight I might have dinner with the American couple that I met at the Iguana, Trisha and TJ who teach in Tegucigulpa, Honduras. I really did meet a lot of nice people at the Iguana. But it´s time to move on! I´m a little wary of Nicaragua and it comparing to Guatemala, but I´m getting more confident with my spanish and it should be fine. I´m excited for a new country!!
I keep meeting people here who are all hating on Costa Rica. I met the 6th of 7th person today who does not like it, and likes Guatemala better. I agree that the people here are much nicer and there´s more culture, but I liked Costa Rica for the beautiful nature. I guess coming from Chicago, you really appreciate a good palm tree. Each country has its own little personality. It will be hard to top Guatemala, but I´ll give Nicaragua a good, fair chance!
above: my crazy room in San Pedro, the crowd at San Pedro, the Iguana, my room of straw, the boat over from San Pedro to Santa Cruz. lots of waves!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Does swimming in the lake count as a shower?

well, of course it does! Unfortunately for you, I did nothing of interest today besides lay in a hammock. For New year's, basically we all had a nice dinner, there was some guitar playing, dancing, and one guy had his dreadlocks cut off for charity. Everyone who donated money got to cut off one dread. So of course I did. And I thought about keeping it as a souvenier - like here´s a dreadlock I cut off some guy´s head in Guatemala, but I was talking to another guy who USED to have dreadlocks, and he said that he never used to wash them. There were also fire dancers and a billion stars in the sky. There is this funny mother-daughter duo here from Montreal and they don´t speak a lot of english but they really entertain me. The mother was drinking a lot and the daughter informed me that she wants to go over to San Marco (a town even more hippie than San Pedro - I avoided it) to do mushrooms! And the daughter is like, my mom is SO much crazier than I am. The owner sang a song about Dutch girls and a song about the chicken busses. The local litle boys in town were peering into our party, then a few of the braver ones came in and I wish you could have seen the looks on their faces. They were maybe 8, 9 years old and they were completely enthralled yet terrified of our party. So I grabbed one of them to dance and his friend danced with another girl. I don´t know whether that made them total studs or the butt of jokes forever in the village of Santa Cruz, but it was really funny.
Today I laid in the hammock and listened to my hangover cure-all, Cafe del mar number 5. It always works! I evesdropped on all the different accents and watched all the beautiful people from all over the world on the deck. I just took a swim in the lake with the Americans, the British couple and some other people. It was cold but now I feel great.
There is this kid here that cracks me up. He works at a little portable water-potato chip-pop stand outside the Iguana. He is ALL business. He´s like a little mafia kid, and greases back his hair in a 1950s style. He acts like he´s been running that stand for 50 years.now. I really like the Guatemalan kids. They are always eager to talk (well, except for the dead serious kid at he pop stand) and they all have giant brown eyes. Did you ever see that movie a Bronx Tale? One of my favorites. anyhow, the pop stand kid reminds me of one of those little mobsters in training.
I leave tomorrow to go back to Antigua. An hour ago, I was sure that I was going to Nica next but now I´m changing my mind again. It´s either the corn islands in Nicaragua which are MUCH harder to get to, it would certainly be an adventure, or I go to Roatan in Honduras, which is easier to get to but more touristy. What to do, what to do... what do you think? Nicaragua might mean spending a night in El Salvador, which could be bad yet interetsting and dodgy. There is no ATM on the corn islands and probably little or no internet so you might not hear from me much after tomorrow. Corn islands look like paradise and Roatan doesn´t look to shabby either. I´m not afraid, per se, just might be a little inconvenienced by the money situation, and might have to stay in a crap hotel one night on the way.
Oh, and in my room of straw, I think there is some bug in there biting me. I have a lot of red scabs and bites. Just adding to my lovely appearance!