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Garden Cafe

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.

When memory is too much, turn to the eye…

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.

Skinny, brown and healthy

Sunday, my cooking day. Going to slow cook some beans and boil up some rice. I also want to buy some yuca at the mercado four blocks south of my apartment and try my hand at those as well. In between the slow cooking I managed three long walks. Walking in the morning is easy. It’s cooler and if there is a slight cloud cover almost pleasant.

I set the beans up over low heat and went out again at noon. An hour later I limped home, tired and sweaty. Noon walks here in the tropics I am not ready for yet. But after three in the afternoon when it cools a bit a nice brisk walk around the Parque and the surrounding neighborhoods is refreshing.

Now the Mercado is something else. It’s a couple blocks of sheer madness. If you have ever seen those open air bazaars they show in the movies sometimes you can imagine this. The narrow streets are jammed with all kinds of ramshackle booths and carts with everything from baby shirts to toothpaste and soap. But most people come here for the fruits and vegetables. It would shock most Americans at first because everything is so haphazhard, dirty and crowded but at the same time if you slow down you can stock up very cheaply on all of the locally grown produce. I bought my yuca’s, about a pound of them for 78 cents.

My goal is just what it says in the title, skinny, brown (as brown as an Irishman can get) and healthy. Give me another two months and that’s what I will be. I miss all my friends and family but I am starting to love my simple life here in Granada, Nicaragua.

Enter the rain

Confined to my room due to a tussle with an intestinal anomaly I have decided to attack my boredom with a bout of writing.

This morning at around 5 AM I was speaking with our very wise night clerk, Russell. In comparing our cultures he told me the Americans are ruled by time and Nicaraguans rule time….then with a smile he added, that’s why we are always late. But happy I might add.

I told Russell that I thought the greatest gift one can have is be able to recognize the moment one has reached the state of happiness.

I had it and let it go. Russell described it to me when he said that all he wants is his kids to remember him as he remembers his dad.

Alea iacta est

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I am leaving the country in four days. I leave with only two regrets…that I was unable to reconcile with my wife, and I will be 3,700 miles from my new family, the Murray’s. C’est la vie.

The jeep is sold. Like an old boxer her skills were fading from the years and the miles. The jabs and crosses were wearing the old girl down. In the right hands (and I think this young fellow has them) new life can be breathed into her. I am hoping she lives as long or longer than I do.

Without Clare and Gordon putting me up and putting up with me these last six months I don’t know what I would have done.

I am packed, paperwork is done, I have several apartments to look at as soon as I get to Granada and I can’t wait until that plane door closes behind me.

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In a way…

its been a very interesting year. And by that I mean the last 12 months. I learned I have a vast tolerance for suffering (the Irish way), I learned I have another family, I learned my capacity for love is almost limitless (don’t know where that came from, maybe the Reilly’s) and I learned that I have one more sister who loves me as much as I love her.

Nicaragua

Our latest attempt to patch things up crashed and Byrned. So it is off to Nica on the 1st of October. Nicaragua is the second poorest country in Latin America but the beauty of people and the country itself is priceless.

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My sister

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They say we look alike…I disagree, she is beautiful, I am disgusting.

Just another day

I don’t know where to begin. This whole year has been very interesting…

A crumbling marriage, a new family, plans to retire to Nicaragua and now a separated wife who may or may not want to give it another shot.

Through the magic of DNA (and a lot of pure homemade luck) I have been (re)united with a family I did not know existed for 65 years. I haven’t met all of them but the ones I did went from total strangers to old friends in the time it takes to say hello brother…hello sister. Getting to know them has been perhaps the most exciting thing I have ever done.

My wife has found out that greener pastures might be chock full of weeds. While she has not asked me back yet it sure sounds like she might. My answer will be yes, a thousand times yes.

In case she doesn’t ask I still have that one way ticket to Nicaragua on the 29th of September.

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