Nicaragua, like it’s most famous dish Gallo Pinto, grows on you.
Vietnam was overwhelming from the moment you stepped off the plane. It remained that way until you were, well, overwhelmed
Nicaragua is different. While my relationship with it may be less romantic – it is more mature. Less whirlwind more solid. My standard of living has gone down but my quality of life has gone up. The further I get away from "civilisation" the more that happens.
Today I sit here, somewhat stinkily, typing. The water is off again. It went yesterday afternoon too, for four hours. It was off when I awoke this morning and as we pass lunchtime there is still no sign of it. The rainy season still hasn’t arrived.
It appears water is growing scarce.
We’re not talking Africa-level drought here. For me, in my privileged expat pad, it means little more than occasionally whiffy armpits. Out in the countryside it must be causing sporadically sleepless nights rather than thirst. But the rains are needed.
Sometimes It’s impossible not to warm to this country. That mountain ride was in the usual clapped
Inside, surrounding us, were a mix of stately old dears, charmingly enigmatic cowboys and insufferably cute kids while surreally disco tunes played on the cracked speakers.
Having woken at 5am and caught the bus at six, a two hour bus trip saw us arrive in time for breakfast. Hostess Corinna duly delivered the rice and beans, eggs, avocado and tortillas. She was followed as, we soon realised she often was, by a line of ducks and chickens.
“Miraflor as an entity is totally unique even if, as an entity, it’s a little vague. There’s no town, per se, or even a real center. Rather, the 5,000 Miraflorians live dispersed throughout the 206 square kilometers of the reserve.
“…(it) is privately owned, cooperatively managed in many parts and almost entirely self funded by the associations of small scale producers”
“…UCA (its largest association) is primarily an agricultural credit and loan institution, but has also tackled issues and begun programs such as community health and education, organic agriculture and diversification of crops, cooperative coffee production, gender and youth groups and conflict resolution”
How can you not get inspired by that? It may come as no surprise to hear that this is a Sandinista stronghold. But doesn’t this sound like development utopia, whatever your politics?
Volunteering there you would learn way more than you could ever teach. But again, maybe that should always be the case.
In addition, since I last catalogued my meanderings, I have visited Mombacho and Pochomil. There is so much to see in this beautiful country and even using the clanky old buses, they're easy to get to.
I want to see it all.
In the meantime I am learning Spanish. I’m making comparatively slow progress by the standards of anyone with normal language ability and lightningly fast progress compared to my past Vietnamese comprehension.
Already I know more Spanish than I ever did Vietnamese. Then again, in
Elsewhere there are some similarities. Shops in
But what I do love is the sheer "tropicalness" of Nicaragua. Even amongst the parched trees there are huge arcing leaves and
splashes of bright green. In our old house, bats hung from the top of our window and would twitch warily as we
looked straight out at them. Photographing them from behind the mosquito mesh proved impossible. When I tried again outside they eventually got too irritated and buzzed me, flapping loudly while circling around my head.
In my new home I’ve been told to expect to be periodically woken by an iguana as it walks on the tin roof of our bedroom. Sometimes in the park there are a swarm of parakeets chattering in the trees. This is me living like this. I still can't quite believe it.
Now I just need a little cool. The rains may not bring much more than half a
hour’s freshness after a downpour but it would be a start. In the meantime I’m paying a membership to
use a local hotel pool and that helps. Submerging myself in its gorgeous aqua-coloured, bougainvilleas-fringed
pool, I briefly feel like a big shot. Like a early-retired, Hawaiian-shirt-left-on-the-lounger, Cuban-cigar-smoking dude. Cool in every sense.
Back in the house I am the proud owner of three industrial-sized fans
which blast warm air at me while I am awake and when I sleep.
Nicargua is going to be fun. It’s an acquired taste. Like it’s coffee, it’s rice and beans and it’s Tona beer, which is so light that I give in to it’s insipidness and further weaken it with ice and lime.
From initially being lukewarm about them all I now crave each of them