Monday, March 16, 2009

Our Angel Gabriel and Sand-filled Papayas

So after another great day in Monteverde where we just hung out for the day and then took this great night hike where the guide told us all about all sorts of cool things and we saw tarantulas and the like, we left out at the butt-crack of dawn the next morning to go to Nicaragua. We were leaving at the same time as this other guy and had already decided to share a cab for part of the way, and it turned out to be a great decision because his name was Gabriel and he was from Brazil and fluent in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. That guy was a life saver because he´s really personable and he would go up to everyone we saw, make friends in like 5 seconds, negotiate all our rates, weave us through whatever scams were going on, everything. Crossing the border to Nicaragua was crazy because as soon as we were near it we were surrounded by Ticos and Nicas offering to exchange money for us (for I´m sure the same rates the bank offers) or sell us all sorts of things, and cab drivers saying we have to come with them because the buses weren´t running, and just swarming around like flies. So we made it through all that, it took ten hours total and we finally arrived in San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua. We had this great little hostel to stay in with a private room and a bathroom with actual hot water AND water pressure (usually if they have hot water at all you have to choose one or the other) for $6 per person. We crashed that night really early, but the next day were all excited about going to the beach. It was not as great as we´d hoped because the water in the Pacific was freezing and the waves knocked you down so hard. We´d also been travelling with these 2 Danish girls who were traveling before going ot volunteer in a Mexican Orphanage, and a wave took off one of the girls´bathing suit bottom completely, and she never found it, so her friend had to go run and get a towel so she could get out of the water. We were expecting that, but we´d gone to the grocery store that morning and bought a papaya the size of a newborn baby, and were all excited aobut eating it on the beach, but the wind blew the sand so much that as soon as we cut it open it was filled with sand. We ate it anyway, of course, but it just sort of takes away from the whole experience. We hung in there for a few hours though, and I came away brown as a berry and with sand in every nook and cranny. We left the next day, Sunday, with the Danish girls, Anasofia and Sedsil, and we went to Ometepe, which is an island formed by 2 volcanoes in the middle of a huge lake that at one time had lake sharks but are probably extinct now. It´s actually trying to become one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, and it should because it´s absolutely unbelievable. There is a great view everywhere you look. The lake is only 30 meters deep at the deepest, and that means it´s really affected by weather, which was bad because it was windy the day we came across on the ferry and I was so seasick, but I was better as soon as we´d stopped. We were again assaulted by taxi drivers and this one lady was particularly persistent. I´m pretty sure she regretted it afterwards because we got her to take us to this organic coffee plantation/hostel and it was for much cheaper and much further away than I think she wanted to go (I learned a bit from Gabriel about negotiating and my spanish is getting pretty good),
so no we´re here for $2.50 per person and it´s awesome and the people are really cool, and today we´re going to go swimming with the sharks and tomorrow do an 8 hr hike up the volcano and hang out at the lagoon in the crater that wasn´t known to white people at all until the 1930´s.

1 comment:

  1. Great adventure Angelic!! Thanks for keeping this journal going.

    Travel safe and looking forward to reading more!




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.