Bus trips, ferry, taxis, and Bambi

Trip Start Feb 03, 2006
Trip End Jun 20, 2006

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Where I stayed
Hostel La Clinical

Flag of Nicaragua  ,
Saturday, March 4, 2006

So, we left Finca Magdalena via not one but TWO bone-crusher busses along with this disgruntled traveller from Ohio, Mark. Waiting for the busses to arrive might have been more peaceful, but Markīs attention span seems limited to about 30 seconds, hence the oft-repeated "where the hellīs the bus, we should just hitch". 10 minutes and 20 repetitions later, the bus came. The first bus dropped us at the crossroads, and we endured much of the same waiting for the next bus. 10 minutes and 20 repetitions later, the 2nd bus came.

We finally arrived in Moyogalpa about 2.5 hours after leaving the Finca. Keep in mind, the distance travelled could not have exceeded 20 miles. Probably more like 12 miles. We had about an hour to kill before the ferry came, so we decided to get some breakfast (having skipped the bad Finca food before we left). As we walked up to the restaurant, we were...stunned....to see a very small deer being chased by a very small girl. We had an excellent meal there, albeit with Bambi (yes, that was the deerīs name) licking at our legs and mooching for food and affection. Evidently, some tourons had "found" the "poor abandoned baby" up on the face of the volcano, and had "rescued" it. It seemed to be doing fine, I guess, though we were surprised that they seemed to be feeding it a steady diet of white rice.

After breakfast, we headed down to the ferry. Mark was distracted by some tourist baubles hanging in front of a store, while Andrew and I walked on. We made the ferry just as they were untying the ropes (miracle of miracles, something was happening early in Central America). For what we suspect was not the first time in his life, Mark missed the boat. We waved sadly to him as the boat pulled away and he scurried futilely down the dock.

The ferry was only about an hour long, and much smoother than the trip from Granada. The only real problem was that the money-collector tried to get double fares from both of us, and my Spanish was too poor to get across that I had already paid, so I just said no (we were sitting on different decks because I was afraid of the top deck with no railing of any sort. Andrew spent the trip scrambling to keep in one spot while watching the bags up on top).

From the ferry, it was a long bus ride to Managua, a long taxi across Managua, and a decent bus ride to Leon. The only good thing about the busses was that each one was a slight improvement on the previous, and the last bus, to Leon, was almost comfortable. Some guy was selling a thick sort of cashew brittle on the bus, which was super tasty, not too sweet, and made the ride more bearable.

We have spent the last two nights in Leon at the Hostal La Clinica. At first, it seemed quite friendly and appealing. As time has gone on, it seems more and more hard to be friendly and bright and happy.....all the bloody time. I have been chided by the women of the house on more than one occasion for being sullen. I seem to have failed to explain that I am perfectly friendly, I just donīt really speak Spanish. Blanca, the "headmistress" keeps harassing Andrew for chocolate after she found that he had bought some on our first night here. The house dog and cat, Lassie and Estewart (usually pronounced essssttttoooooooaaaarrrrr) are fairly friendly and seem to be cleaner than street animals. Lassie keeps harassing Andrew when he steps outside the room.

We will be moving to the Bigfoot hostel tomorrow, to get away from the overwhelming chattiness and cheerfulness, to get a little anonymity (it gets old when EVERY time you walk out of your room you hear AAAAANNNNNDREEEEE, RAQUELITO! CHOCOLATE!), to have access to a kitchen, and hopefully to get a room that doesnīt quite feel so much like an oven. Last night I woke up and thought I was feverish, but it turns out it was only an 85 degree room and a sweaty hot foam mattress.

We have signed up for a week of language classes beginning Monday, so we will be in Leon awhile. It is a nice town, full of people, not so full of tourists. It is the liberal center of Nicaragua, and so far we have seen on murals: a CIA serpent being beheaded, Uncle Sam being crushed by the outline of Sandino, and graffiti that reads "Bush genocido". Will put pictures of all up later.

We have also eaten many interesting regional foods here. Andrew had chancho con yucca, which is basically highly seasoned roast pork served over steamed yucca and topped with coleslaw. It is similar to vigoron, except that the roast pork takes the place of the chicharrones (pork rinds), and the dish is served warm. We also had some sort of strange drink made with "semilla de jicaro", which tasted grainy like horchata, but with a sort of chocolate-bubble gum-sweet flavor. Not really something to have every day. Today we had sopa de res con ponche, a Saturday special around here, which is beef soup with crab and a strange assortment of unidentifiable, starchy root vegetables, along with squash, plantains, and at least one banana. Stewed bananas are really nasty. The soup had the coloration of dirty dishwater, and the "meat bits" were sort of gray, and hanging on bits of bone. If you didnīt think about it too much, the broth was sort of okay. Anyway, it was a huge amount of edible and probably safe food (although we may have to report back on that one tomorrow), and the total price for 2 soups and 2 sodas was under $1.75. So, no real complaints.

Leon is a bit strange in that it is the only place where we have stayed that it can be difficult to find a place open for breakfast. We have discovered the only good bet is the Via Via hostel restaurant. Nothing else seems to open until 10 am, which is strange because people are definitely up and at em earlier than that. Maybe they are grabbing street snacks only...

Nicaraguan women, and Leonese women in particular, seem to be far more brave and brazen than women in the other Latin American countries we have visited. Normally, women wonīt even look at Andrew. However, here he has been shoved all around the market, harassed by our hostel owners, and a couple of women routinely come up to him trying to sell bits of homemade food. When he says no gracias, they tend to then stick the food under his nose, saying how good it is. They donīt really like to take no for an answer.

Andrew met a friendly Israeli at a sandwich stand yesterday around lunch while I was napping. They were quietly eating their sandwiches and chatting, when they were accosted by five fifteen year old girls in school uniforms, who surrounded them and grilled them with questions, relayed through their English-speaking leader. They only left when Andrew and the Israeli made it clear they had girlfriends.

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