Current location: Rental casa, Granada, Nicaragua
Price of beer in a bar: US$0.68 for 12 ounces of local beer
Song currently stuck in my head: Sex and Candy (Marcy Playground)
In Peru you ride for hours and see nothing but desert (I assume it’s desert, I didn’t check the precipitation records but all I saw was sand and dust) until a town appears for no apparent reason with new, filthy 2 story buildings wall to wall for blocks at a time. These towns are dusty and chaotic and if a midget in leather chaps wandered into the street shouting “WHO RUN BARTER TOWN?” you wouldn’t bat an eye.
I’m not in Peru, but occasionally the architecture in the poorer neighborhood here reminds me of it. There’s a house near our place and the second story appears to be made entirely of steel. The average high this month is over 93 degrees (34 C). I don’t even want to imagine the kind of kiln like environment that gets cooking up there. High ceilings seem to be the local weapon of choice in the battle against the oft-inhuman climate. The ceiling in our place is probably just shy of 20′ and it makes a big difference. Our ceiling is “exposed”, though many people install office-like drop ceilings which do a great job of creating an insulating chamber of air between the roof (which is getting pounded by sun all day) and ceiling. Our place has a lot of powerful ceiling fans, 5 in all, though I’d trade them for some floor fans in a minute. I’m not sure I understand the logic of recirculating the hot air, I’m sure there’s something to it, but so far I prefer a normal fan pointed right at me.
A lot of people ask what I do all day, or express confusion without asking, or point out that they would need more structure than they assume is available. Personally, I have a lot of “indoor pursuits.” I read a lot, I spend quite a few hours every week listening to The Economist as well as a handful of free podcasts. I spend a lot of time online. So when the heat is up and going outside seems like a terrible idea, at least until dusk, I seldom have trouble filling the hours. When I’m able to go outside I try to make a regular of myself at the local gym.
This trip has been as much about minimalism as travel, stripping away nearly everything and see which longings fade away and which persist. Enduringly I’ve wished I had some:
Cotton (or cotton textured) T shirts. They don’t fare well in some of the towns where we stay, what with the hand washing of clothes against concrete or large rocks and the complete lack of dryers. But with no clients to interact with and no office managers to placate, a nice, soft stack of cotton Ts would do me well.
A nice, big insulated set of headphones; maybe something with surround sound. I’ve never tried noise cancelling cans, maybe they’re a godsend, but in the fog of my ignorance I’d be happy for something that blocked (rather than drowned, which is my only current option, via increased volume) out the street noise. I’d queue up Futureworld (Trans Am) and put the Tron sequel up on the screen.
Speaking of the screen, I really miss using a decently sized monitor. I’m getting by with 12.1″ of display, which I use for everything from movies to word processing. I miss my 24″ monitor almost every day.
All of these are things I’m going without because of travel, not location. There’s nothing stopping me from buying a less embarrassing monitor at the local Radio Shack (actually, I wouldn’t have to go that far, LCD screens abound in this town and Radio Shack is a cab ride away) here in Granada. But I’d hate to carry it around every month.
As I type this we’re on the second to the last day of our 30 in Granada. We’ll probably bring in the month at US$900 or just slightly less. US$875 was within reach, but we splurged on breakfast yesterday. Kathy’s Waffle House makes a gringo feel like he’s back in a stateside Golden Nugget (the diner chain, not the Vegas Hotel/Casino) and I was willing to turn a blind eye to the soft goal of 875 if it meant a fluffy 3 egg omelet with bacon and roasted potatoes.
In a few days we grab a ticabus to Panama City by way of San Jose, Costa Rica. It will take about 30 hours, which seems like a lot, but that’s mostly because it’s a lot.