Still alive and well....

Trip Start Mar 14, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Nicaragua  , León,
Thursday, September 16, 2004

Hello from the magnetic city of Leon. Magnetic in that I am stuck to it for good, but not really of course. I wanted to keep the web sight alive since I am still alive and kicking ... except when I take a nap in the afternoon heat in a hammock while I am well aware that you are all working. Enough said on that! I thought I would take an opportunity to post some pictures of what life is like where I am and mention some of the things Iīve been up to but havenīt written about here. I am long overdue for this update as one avid, but slightly annoyed reader has pointed out in an e-mail. He knows who he is and that he is in the "dung-beetle" club back in Pennsylvania. Sorry for not living up to your New York Times reporter expectations.

Although guiding hikes has almost come to a standstill, I am quite active each day. I think all the younger European, Canadian, and American travelers are back at school and the vacation season for the northern hemisphere in general has slowed down. The result ... no hiking for the last 2 weeks. The last hike we did, however, was the best ever and something we had not done before. On August 29, we organized a Full Moon Hike to Volcán Telica and had great success. 16 hikers signed up! It was quite an international crowd with folks from New Zealand, Australia, Israel, France, Germany, Switzerland, USA, Holland, Belgium, and Canada. The weather was perfect with the trail fully lit by the light of the moon. We left Leon around 10 pm and arrived at the crater around 2:30 or 3am to await the 5:15am sunrise and breakfast. Pretty damn cool!

I have also taken time out to go to a music festival in Achuapa(music sucked), the Flor de Caņa rum factory in Chichigalpa(their rum is the best!), a beach along the Pacific Ocean in a small village called Poneloya(very pleasant), and the police station(not pleasant). My wallet got pick-pocketed in a large festival crowd and I wanted to report it so I could show the bank the paperwork for missing ATM cards. Plus, I just wanted the souvenir. I wish I had photos of the police station but I didnīt take my camera. In a way, it was a fun adventure in itself. There are no computers and the report was made on a typewriter older than me in an office cubicle with beat up, old wooden chairs and stacks of papers everywhere, a boom-box radio bigger than anything Iīve ever owned, and a stereotypical, donut eating police woman that had the hots for me...I later learned. Fortunately, I had a native spanish speaker with me from the hospedaje I stay at to do most of the talking. No one spoke english so I followed along the best I could.
Although I had canceled my cards immediately, we told them they were still active until the next day because my banks were closed due to the Independence Day holiday ... but it was their Independence Day, not ours, but this made perfect sense to them. This got them into action! The lead investigator took off on his motorcycle to go to all the bars, restaurants, or other places where someone might try to abuse the cards(there were 2) to give them notice. I was pleased with that. What I really needed, however, was a photocopy of the report. They actually had to give me the original, I took a bus into town to a copy center, copied it and had to return it. Great fun looking back on it all. Now, itīs just a paperwork and waiting game to get my new cards here to Nicaragua and the stolen funds returned ... they had time to use each card once.
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