I have a ticket to return to Canada on December 19th but might want to remain here longer. That means I have to leave Costa Rica for three days before that date. I really wasn’t ready to travel out of country alone in December so when Jan and Sabine planned their three day trip to Nicaragua I jumped on board.
Nicaragua is a poor country. I know nothing about it except for what I saw on our way from Atenas, Costa Rica to Granada and back. It’s the rainy season so I saw lots of green growth and interesting trees from the bus window. Of course the first thing I really started to notice as we entered Nicaragua was the increase in horses along the road sides. They were tied, with a loose loop around their heads to a stake. I was thrilled. I’ve been really wanting a horse experience.
The homes however became more and more like little shacks in bad repair. I stayed in a tree house in B.C. this year that looks like a dream home in comparison. I saw families sitting outside their homes and something beyond words settled inside of me. This was their life. They probably accepted it.
We arrived at Casa del Agua after getting charged three times the going taxi rate. A young Australian woman forgot it was check out day and left on a tour with the keys to “our” room so we were quickly shuffled into another room. It hadn’t been cleaned thoroughly and the moldy smell was strong but there was a promise to move upstairs to a brand new room in the morning. The reduction in cost was appreciated.
Our host Gerry, who owns the “motel,” is from Ireland. This was Jan’s fourth stay there so it was like meeting her friend. He was a great host and pointed out the birds overhead and the geckos eating bugs on the walls. He also gave me a couple of left over sections of chocolate bar. I almost planted a big kiss on his lips for that!! One was delicious. The second was the typical chocolate I find here… very chalky and lacking flavor. Thankfully Jan makes me a delicious chocolate treat at Eden so I wasn’t too ‘desperate.’ To tie up the story on Gerry, he also drove us to the bus on Thursday morning at 6:20 a.m.
One thing fascinated me with so many of the places in Granada. They have open courtyards. At Gerry’s I sat and watched the rain splash in the small pool in the middle of the main floor. Every restaurant has tropical gardens, open to the sky in their centre courts. They must take pride in their gardens because they were all very impressive. Even Gerry is attempting to grow flowers at his place. I think Jan has helped influence this over the past year or so!
Day 2 was my highlight of the trip. I woke up to the chocolate bar in the fridge. We then found a nice restaurant for breakfast. After eating, Jan and Sabine waited while I went for a bathroom run. Little did I know that I’d have my heart stolen in the process. No, not a lovely Nicaraguan man; I met a parrot in a cage outside the bathroom!! He flirted with me, doing loops up and down the side of his cage. I recognized this lovely mode of communication as the same I’d watched from a parrot I met when I was 16! This fellow talked to me, in Spanish. He made special courting sounds and looked deep into my eyes. I knew I had to go but couldn’t leave. Jan finally came looking for me as I was saying a long and sad adios.
Horses and carts line up in the big square offering tourists rides. A few horses are in good shape. Most of them are extremely skinny. It’s upsetting but Gerry told me it used to be worse before tourists started refusing rides with the really unkept horses. Some were decorated with gaudy big bows but they thought they were making their carriage and horses beautiful. They did stand out. The horses at cart #26 made the biggest heart connection with me. These two horses started snuffing their nostrils at me. I blew softly back, communicating in ‘horse language.’ I laid my hand on their faces. The one seemed to connect so deeply with me for a moment. My touch felt so appreciated. I never did get a buggy ride. My two companions would have done so but they’re not horse people. I didn’t push it. Somehow loading a cart with three more humans almost seemed mean. At the same time though, we would have helped pay for their hay. It’s a tough call. I did feel a bit saddened that I’d given that young man my word twice that I would be back and never returned. Such is life when others are involved.
I can’t leave out another HUGE highlight. We went shopping for some clothes as I needed shorts badly. In one store a man sang latino love songs in Spanish. After buying something the sales girl saw me dancing a bit in the aisle and encouraged me to dance with the singer! I said, “No,” while everything else about me yelled, “Yes please.” She helped make it happen and there I was, in an open wide doorway to the main market street, swaying in his arms, to the music of a love song. He gazed into my eyes and I gazed back as if I understood every word. I milked every sensation through that long, dreamy song. Who cared about the people looking in from the street? Not I!
On the streets of Granada there are many endearing and some times very rude street children who beg for money via something they make. Many boys wander around making delightful grasshoppers and flowers from the long reeds of plants. It fascinated me to watch them deftly make the items. Every block we walked we had someone trying to sale us something: They carried big cardboard sheets of sunglasses, duffle bags of beautiful pottery and brightly woven hammocks. We spoke the words, “No Gracias” non stop. Jan knew how to say, “Good luck” and felt they appreciated it.
That evening we ate supper on the street under a big umbrella while it rained. I was served a large plate of fish and rice and immediately decided to save a small portion for one of the street dogs. Although none had approached us yet, they were everywhere. Not even five minutes passed when I looked down to see sitting beside me at the table, a meek, polite dog. She had a sore eye and was sad I think. She just stared at me as if to say, “You called?” I don’t usually feed a dog from the table; I could hear my son’s voice preventing me from feeding a sea gall earlier last summer at a restaurant. That night I happily placed bits of my supper on the pavement. She wouldn’t eat from my hand.
During supper we were serenaded by a three men street band. After supper there was an artist who came by on crutches and recited in perfect, passionate English a beautiful poem. He talked a bit and I watched him later painting, propped up along the sidewalk. Two adorable young girls, selling a tray full of trinkets, gave him some change. I went to talk to him further. He’d lost half a leg to a bullet at some point. He shared how these little girls had very little for themselves yet gave to him. This touched my heart big times.
I spent Day 3 walking around shopping with Sabine. She had a list of things, as prices are much lower in Nicaragua than Costa Rica. The streets are narrow and many store fronts down town are painted in bright pastel colours. Single lanes of traffic drive down the same roads we sauntered along. They have shoe stores everywhere. The market itself was full of them. It was quite an experience, one that I didn’t have my camera with me to capture.
That evening I found a place to dance that was only a few blocks from our room. Sabine and Jan sat while I danced. They kept bringing us white rum shooters as it was Ladies’ Night. They couldn’t have been very strong or I was dancing really hard because I felt little effect. I do know that it wasn’t my favorite music but I danced my heart out amongst the locals and a couple from California. Jan called it, “Supporting Nancee night.”
Some how the people of Granada and their care for their inner city made an impression with me. It was loud, but it was filled with many smiles from friendly people who were willing to put up with broken Spanish and lots of hand signals.