It's October What?!
Trip Start Sep 28, 2012
11Trip End Apr 09, 2013
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Muchas gracias por todo el apoyo. Mi viaje no habiera sucedido sin él! (¿Ver eso? Presente y pasado español: P) poco a poco estoy aprendiendo.
Although I am sure there were many, I'd like to correct a spelling mistake I made in a past entry. I incorrectly wrote "muy deficil" when it is actually "muy dificul". Okidoke, I'll be able to sleep better at night now!
HIGHLIGHTS: Lounging in a hammock on the ocean, Bergman's choice if tunes, dessert (can chocolate covered bananas be beat?!...
FACTOID OF THE WEEK: Ever wonder what the significance behind the flag of Nicaragua is? Well you've come to the right place!
A) The two blue stripes represent the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea that border Nicaragua.
B) The white centre stripe represents peace.
C) In the middle of the flag is the coat of arms within an equilateral triangle symbolizing, yup you guessed it, equality :)
D) The 5 volcanoes in the triangle represent the 5 countries in the United Provinces of Central America who all gained independence from Spain together on September 15, 1821 (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala).
E) The red Cap of Liberty indicates freedom while the rainbow indicates peace and hope Nicaragua's future.
We now all know the significance of the Nicaraguan flag! Yippee!
ADVICE TO BANK ON:
I don't know how they do it, but some people seem to always know exactly what to say and when to say it. Traveling can bring out the great, the good, and the ugly in a person, and this week I found myself facing some struggles and believe it or not, fears. For this reason I was so so thankful to find an email waiting in my mailbox from Ms. Anonymous: "Remember to smile at the simple things in life... Reflect.... Experience the sadness .... Its ok to feel frustration and confusion.... Witness the essence of humanity..." These are key points that I found staring back at me from an email that couldn't have come at a better time. Good reminders. For the guided wisdom, I am grateful :)
~ "Barriga llena, corazon contento."~
Full belly, happy heart.
Food! A lot of life here seems to centered around it, and I now understand why... Es deliciosa!
Fresh fruit is abundant (especially tasty are pineapple, pitaya, and bananas galore). But the staple for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Beans! Gallo pinto is a mix of red beans and rice cooked with oil and salt that is consumed during virtually every meal. Overall, the diet here is mostly vegetarian as meat and fish are more expensive. However, when it's available, the locals chow down on it! Other common (and awfully yummy) foods include: maduro (sweet plantain fried in their own sugar), nacatamales (meat or veggie-filled corn tamale wrapped & boiled in banana leaves), tortilla (made of white corn), pinol (toasted milled corn), baho (plantain and sometimes beef stew), tostones/tajadas (crunchy plantain strips), and much much more!
The folks here also seem to have a very technical cooking theory. When in doubt.... Deep fry it!!!!
TRAVELERS BOND OVER RELIGION?
I found this truly incredible and an inspiration for how the world is changing.
I observed a conversation the other night, here at La Mariposa. It was a discussion about religion, seems simple right? But the amazing thing is that the four contributors each believed in a different religion: Muslim, Catholicism, Judaism, and Atheism. It was amazing as they compared and contrasted their beliefs against one another in a way that was non discriminatory, and courteous of differences. Anyways, it is challenging to describe such a conversation, but needless to say I sat in admiration of these travelers coming from completely different corners if the globe, ending up in the same location because of a similar interest in Spanish. It may sound silly, but the diversity and respect that attributed to the discussion gave me chills!
QUE PASA? (WHAT'S HAPPENING?):
Life is B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. Man! I can't believe I'm already two weeks in!
Been seeing people and places, all that Nicaragua has to offer! Visited local maraca makers (they can hand carve a beautiful gourd in 30 seconds... craziness!!), toy truck maker (any make or model and its yours - out of wood though, sorry!), walked through El Chocoyero natural reserve and waterfall (800 parakeets live on the side of the cliff), Italian Pizzaria (yes I'm ashamed to say it... I cheated. But it was darn good pizza!), practiced Spanish with three super cute little girls at a basketball game, learned how to make tortillas and delicious soup with the local cooks at La Mariposa, played in the waves of the Pacific Ocean at La Boquita, y mas! (& more!)
Daniel spontaneously arrived on the weekend from Calgary which was fantastic! Catching up on news and life has been great! It's crazy to think I have known him for over a decade! WOWZA!
I also managed to get through my first Spanish class speaking absolutely ZERO English. Okay, no, that's a lie. I accidentally spoke 8 words, but subtract the two words my teacher said in english and you have 6. We had a friendly competition going on and at the end of the class, I had to come up with 6 examples of spanish verb conjugations :P I found out that speaking for two hours in a language you barely know is unexpectedly difficult but certainly advantageous!
ONE IN A MILLION:
One day this week, I found myself a passenger in a beat up van, plastered in butterfly decals and La Mariposa advertising, coming back from El Chocoyero. It was pitch dark out at this point (sun sets around 6-6:30 here) and the driver adjusts the knob for the radio. The next thing I knew, we were flying down some deserted (and outrageously bumpy!) dirt road, windows down, blasting (and of course singing along) to crazy American 80's music! I hadn't had that much fun and been that happy in a long time!
Ever heard the saying, "It's the people you meet along the way that make the trip?" Or variations of that? I'm slowly discovering that this is true, as I could see the worlds most extraordinary landmarks or landscapes, but if I am not in and amongst people who care deeply about what they are doing or believe in, the memory doesn't last.
Well, the driver of the 80's playing van was a guy by the name of Bergman. Without knowing it he is teaching me how to have fun. As this whole trip for me is kind of a voyage of self discovery, I take great interest in people from whom I can learn life lessons. I've found this in Bergman, a local Nicaraguan who is a father figure to many. What I admire is his passion for life and all factors good and bad within it. Although his profession is a veterinarian, he is also: father of five, husband, neighbor, friend, handyman, driver, Spanish teacher, English teacher, tour-guide, and all-around go-to guy for just about everything at La Mariposa. He's the kind of person you can't help but feel happy around as he carries his contagious smile with him everywhere. He has a wealth of knowledge about Nicaragua past, present and future as well as in languages: fluent in Spanish and English (from a six-month trip to London), and also learned sign language and can now communicate with his deaf and mute neighbor. Bergman also may as well be mayor of the town as he ensures to stop and say hello to every passerby, REGARDLESS of whether he is in hurry to get somewhere or not!
So why am I telling you all this? I like to think that Bergman is the kind of person we can all learn something from. Taking time out of our day to greet a neighbor, to bring positive energy to the world, to know that it's ok to have fun, but to know that sometimes life's circumstances are out of our control but that's ok. Knowing him for the little time that have, I believe the world needs more Bergmans :) I know this is a total cliche, but he genuinely makes me want to be a better human being - I know, I know, it's cheesy but true! More lessons learned from another wonderful human being. Definitely one in a million.
EL VOLCAN MASAYA:
Amidst volcanic fumes and smoke, you could see for miles atop the Masaya Volcano! As a group we had hiked through farmers fields and up the side of the volcano to take in the view, and boy was it worth it. The volcano is currently actively erupting gases, however the most recent ash eruption was back in 2008. Don't worry, we weren't in danger!
What do you think about an entirely Spanish blog post next time? Google translate anybody? Jkjk :-)