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Current Location: Home with rented room, Esteli, Nicaragua

10.18.10

Price of beer in a bar: US$1.76 per liter (C$2 (~US$0.10) less than I’d previously seen it in town).
Song currently stuck in my head: Show Biz Kids (Steely Dan)

Spanish class may or may not be difficult; I really don’t understand what’s going on enough to pass judgment. Paying someone to speak very slowly to me for 4 horus a day is paying dividends though; my Spanish is either better or at least more ambitious. I originally started traveling down here years ago with a scribbled translation for “could I have a rum and coke, please” in my pocket that represented the sum total of my Spanish. I couldn’t even pronounce what was written there coherently; usually I had to show the bartender the note. Bus rides were sources of extreme anxiety as I never knew if I was on the right bus, and, if I was, I never knew if I would have to change buses to get to my destination and, most irritatingly, I never knew how to recognize my destination when I got there, often in the dark and at an predictable point hours into the ride. Because, you see, I didn’t speak Spanish. You mostly just look for other white people, hope they’re going to the same place you are and keep a close eye on their actions. If they get up and get their bags, you get up and casually ask “is this [butchered pronunciation of [spanish town]]”. But there aren’t always white people, and when there are they aren’t always going your way, and when they are they don’t always speak English so you wouldn’t know it anyway. You deal.

I have a lot of friends who fell asleep at one point or another on Chicago’s CTA system and woke up in a dark train yard at 3am. It kind of sucks. It’s Central American equivalent would likely suck a whole lot more.

In 2007 I got pretty good at navigating a bus station, restaurant, and, to a lesser extent, hotel. I took one week of Spanish early on in my trip and told them “teach me what I need to know to travel”. This covered menus, navigation, services like laundry and hospitality and got me about as far as Bolivia. At that point it was back to square one; I couldn’t understand the Bolivarianos and they couldn’t understand a single word of mine. Time to get me some white people.

These days (read: as of this week) I occasionally make a coherent comment that isn’t absolutely necessary; hell, I can almost joke with people. That’s a pretty big step for me.

Esteli continues to impress; the weather’s been great, the people even moreso. We hopped a few bars this past Friday and found a local Metal dive; AVP on the TV and death metal on PC/jukebox. We tried to get a seat at a livelier locals joint, but the stares while we waited made The Girlfriend uncomfortable (By now I’ve been oblivious/ambivalent to it for a long time) and we never got a table. Maybe this weekend we’ll go earlier. I’m nowhere near tired of the food yet; good produce and grilled meat abound. The water seems to a be more dependably available for the last few days, which is a good harbinger of things to come.

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2 Responses to “Current Location: Home with rented room, Esteli, Nicaragua”

  1. c. devine Says:

    How much is a room renting for that is close to the water? Do you feel safe walking around by yourself?

  2. cgearhart Says:

    In Esteli you’re about 2 hours from the coast, so not at all. But Esteli was very safe; Gringa volunteers who knew the area didn’t hesitate to walk home alone after midnight.


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