Wednesday, March 18, 2009

El Lodo!!

It´s a good thing Im sitting down for this...since I can hardly move my legs. Ok, here´s what has happened the last few days. We got to Ometepe (this island) on Sunday and couldn´t get to a bank, so on Monday, we figured we´d jaunt over to bank and the market and go swimming and stuff, no big deal. So, the bus to the bank takes two hours, not because it´s so far, because it´s only about 25 kilometers, but half the roads here are made of dirt and rocks and look like a model of the Alps. Also, it´s Nica tradition that the bus drivers have to stop for EVERYONE they pass on the road to ask if they want a ride, and the buses (and all vehicles) are on their last leg, but I have a feeling the last leg has been for at least a decade so far and still going, so there´s usually a problem. That doesn´t even include all the animals. Just that day we saw in the road horses, cows, pigs, chickens, a buffalo, dogs, cats, and more I can´t remember. Christian, Anne Sofie, Sidsel and I all got on the 11:00 bus and didn´t get back to the hostel until about 7:30. At one point the bus stopped and filled with smoke because the driver opened this hatch in the front and the engine was overheated. They poured in some water and we were again on our way. It took about 45 minutes at the bank (no discernible reason) and then lunch, an attempt to find the beach (given up because the island ended at a dock), going to the market, which just has terrible packaged food strewn in all the aisles, a drink with an ex-pat from the US who seems to be a bit bitter about the stupidity of everyone else but himself (it reminded me of someone I know but I cant place my finger on it), and we almost missed the last bus out of town. We caught it on the road (because it stopped for us), but was packed so full there was no room, so with some halted negotiations (us asking ¿arriba? and pointing to the roof, we got to ride on top in the luggage rack. It was Great! we saw the whole island (Christian saw a naked guy hanging out in his back yard). The roads were paved at that point so we were going nice and fast with a good breeze going. All the Nicas waving Hi (people are so nice here and everyone says Adio as they pass each other). We eventually had to get down after about an hour because there was room inside and they needed the luggage space, but it was fun while it lasted. The bus only came within a few kilometers of the hostel, but it turned out the guy next to me worked there (I`m speaking Spanish up a storm, here, you should see me. And everyone is so patient with my terrible grammar and accent and they try to talk to us all the time. Great!) and he was so super nice and walked us back since it´s tough on the roads after dark (like I said, it`s the Alps), and we had made it. Whew! It was actually a really great day and I like it here a lot better than Costa Rica because it´s more real. Then the next day was Anne Sofie´s birthday and we went to this awesome beach to the lake, which has waves like an ocean, but horses standing in the water to drink because of course it´s fresh water. You can stand until way far out and the water was great, so we swam and laid out and ate lunch at a little soda and then went home and stayed up late talking to some awesome people and drinking and eating pineapples and mangoes.
Then TODAY, the reason I am sitting here now is because we got up early and met our guide at 7:30 to climb the volcano. It was ridiculous (in a good way). There is a path in a very Nica sense of the word, meaning we walked up a muddy, rocky steam. We walked 6 kilometers, past petroglyphs, up very steep and rocky and SUPER muddy slopes, through a tropical rainforest (in the morning it was cloudy and we couldn´t see any views, but it was cool and misty, and we saw the whole island on the way down). Half way up, Christian starts laughing and says, ¨What´s the difference between Costa Rica and Nicaragua?¨ because Costa Rica is like Disney Central America and very accomodating to tourists, and this was basically like, ¨If you want to see this badly enough, youĺl climb it,¨ and then down an even steeper slope into the crater of the volcano where there was this perfect lagoon, with the slopes around all misty and covered with trees and the lagoon just absolutely beautiful. We ate lunch there and then it was back down, which is actually harder because the mud (lodo in spanish) is so slippery, but 8 hours later we were back, very accomplished, absolutely filthy (I am not sure my shoes are salvagable), and exhausted, but it is so ridiculously great here. Till next time...

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Chuchi - this is probably my new most popular word. It means snobby or fancy, but is used in the Peace Corps as anything nicer than dirt roads and shacks, or for a person, anyone who showers with hot water. Living in the city, I am super chuchi for here.

Fuerte - literally means strong, but because the culture is based on talking around everything, it´s when a person says anything they want in a direct way - it means asshole

Puede ser and otro dia - literally means "could be" or "another day", but because noone will directly blow someone off, both of them mean "never" and are the answer to a question of when something will happen

Deseas, en tus sueños, Que Arriba Perra/o and Es lo qué es - these are the terrible translations of American sayings that are not used here and don´t really translate, but we say them anyway. Literally they mean "you wish", "in your dreams", "What´s up bitch/dog?" and "it is what it is"

Qué guapa - this means "what a hard worker" and is used by Paraguayans every time I do ANYTHING manual, including carrying a dish to the sink or sweeping out my room. I don´t think they have high expectations for Americans and work.

Saludos - sending saludos by way of a mutual friend is how people tell each other they have a crush on them. The most serious kinds are given with a pinch on the arm and they mean business.

Thumbs up - this is done everywhere here and is a simple answer to pretty much any question. I will probably have carpal tunel in my thumbs when I leave here because I do this so much.

No se como comer esta - this is how one refuses food in Paraguay. Literally, it´s "I don´t know how to eat this" which creates an internal struggle for me each time it´s said because I want to be a smartass and explain that, just like any other food, you put in in your mouth and chew, but I don´t think that´s acceptable here.

No Más and Un poco - this is said after almost every phrase for no real reason other than to make everything sound like it´s not a big deal, even when it really is. Literally, it´s "No More" and "A Little", so the translations are something like "Sit down no more", "Come here a little", and "Do you want dinner no more?"

Cocido - this is a hot drink mixed by carmellizing sugar with a little yerba, adding just enough water to wet it, and then adding more sugar. It´s served by the thermos-full just before bed.

Mosto - this is to sugar what crack is to cocaine. It´s a "tradional" drink capable of putting even the sweetest tooth into a diabetic coma, and is served continuously at fun gatherings like funerals.

Ch-ch-ch-ch - this is the sound Paraguayans make to get each others´attention - like "Psst" . It´s especially used for catcalling, and they have nothing to follow it with - they just want you to look.