Three days until New Years Eve and the fireworks are filling the air. At least is isn’t gunfire.
Canadians seem to flock to Granada for reasons no one has been able to spell out very clearly. Yes, 88 degrees is certainly more pleasant than any winter day in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan, but there are lots of warm places that seem to be easier to get to. But I am glad they are here, friendly and easy to talk to…even the ones in Vancouver who rioted when the Bruins beat them for the Cup in 2011.
There was the gal from Ontario who played college hockey and still looked like she could hip check you into next week. There will be no fooling with her in a dark alley after a night of drinking unless you want a mouthful of elbow. Her uncle played for the Red Wings among several other teams and even scored 52 goals in his best year.
Jen, the bartender from Montreal, was 18 when she took off from Montreal to travel alone through Indonesia. Now a seasoned veteran at 28 she is meandering through Central America while keeping her nervous parents up to date with her travels through the internet.
With their backpacks and the ever present bottle of water twenty somethings are all around me with not a safe space filled with dolls, crayons and playdoh in sight. A brave and adventurous lot and I admire them.
There is actually a treehouse hostel somewhere around here that is popular among the backpackers. I would love to see a passel of them try to get up to their rooms after a night on the town.
Meanwhile, I wander about town looking for a good cup of coffee and conversation and after three months have not been disappointed in either.
This little cafe, about two blocks east of the Parque Central, is owned by and American guy and Nica gal. I love whiling away the morning here. The coffee is good Nica coffee, pretty girls file in and out, old ex-pats chew the fat and travelers marvel at the huge origami mobile that dominates the front room of the cafe.
Heard a metal on metal wham…this morning and saw the outcome. A motorbike and sedan clashed at the intersection and the bike lost. An old man was sprawled on the road next to his banged up ride. He was ok but I advised him to get a new helmet as I helped him up. The deep split in the crown of the skid lid signaled the end of life for the helmet as it expired saving it’s owner. The cafe waiter simply said…every day, every day, people crazy.
I don’t know if either driver was crazy but I do know that if you are not on your toes around here on a motorbike you’ll end up on your ass.
Said William Least Heat Moon in his story “Blue Highways”. So that is what I will do. Much time has passed since I moved to Nicaragua. The sights and sounds and smells that overwhelmed me at first have faded into my senses, only to be awakened in my early morning walks when the faint orders of rot, cooking, sweating humans and car exhaust lay faint on the city.
It is called a city but it is a more a large town. A large, poor town with a history more exciting than today. Today it waits for the high season when travelers from all over the world touch down in Managua and take the 45 minute cab ride to what is billed as one of the most beautiful examples of colonial architecture in the new world. The travelers pour money into the hotels, the restaurants and the local peddlers and artisans and everyone is happy.
Actually in the low season, without the tourist money, everyone appears to be happy anyway. They may appear to be grim walking down the street, if they are alone, but I chalk that up to the stolid Indian ancestry in almost everyone in Granada to one degree or another. In groups they are always laughing and shouting out to acquaintances as they pass by as if everyone got to sleep late that morning and enjoyed a sumptuous breakfast prepared by the household gringo maid. As it is this country is desperately poor and the good humor appears to be one way of completely ignoring that tonights rice and beans dinner was the same as last night and the night before.
There is a lesson here that I am slowly learning. Be happy with what you have. If life is tough it’s a lot tougher if you are miserable.
I am learning to love Nicaragua and the people that color this beautiful steamy country.Gioconda Belli, a Nicaraguan writer and poet titled one of her books…The Country under my Skin. Well Nicaragua is getting under my skin and it feels pretty good. I might have come here to run away from a failure in my life but my own little problems pale when compared to a people who hustle to make two dollars a day. And at least I could run away…Nicaraguans have to make it work right here and they do with hustle, spirit and good humor. Once you accept that it really is a good life you’re more than halfway home.