Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Field Trip to Nicaragua


Wednesday April 14th 2010
I’m currently sitting on my newest bed in Central America in my newest house of my newest family.  Seems my bad luck has finally run out because they are so far very nice, very friendly, and there’s actually children and other family members.  We just finished eating our first lunch with them, Susie and I, where we talked about health care and education systems in Nicaragua and the US.  Health care is free here, just like Costa Rica, and school is too, even the universities.  Our host mom said she pays more for transportation for her kids than for the actual school.  Then she asked why people in the US don’t like the new health care systems and I said because a lot of people think it seems like socialism and she just started to laugh. 

So far, I’m really excited about being here for the next couple days.  Nicaragua is a really cultural place with lots of history and history with the US as well, which is something that Costa Rica doesn’t really have. 

On Monday morning we left San Josecito and spent our first night in Guanacaste, which is in Costa Rica but near the border with Nicaragua.  We drove down to a beach there and we were basically the only people there besides a little family and some fishermen.  Then we went to dinner and relaxed at the hostel where we had the most beautiful view of the ocean.

Then yesterday we left at 5:30 am for the border, went through migration quickly, but then had to wait for an hour or more at customs.  Finally, we left and made our way to San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, a small, beachy, toursity town.  Our hostel was awesome – a pool, air conditioning, and CABLE TV!  I got to watch CNN and reruns of America’s Next Top Model.  I don’t even really like that show, but it was like heaven.  Later that night, we went out to a bar close to our hostel.  I called it a night after one of the girls drank a little too much and needed help getting back to the hostel. 

Thursday April 15th

So last night we met up and went out to explore the nightlife in Granada.  We first went to a little bar where mojitos were 2/$1, daquiris 2/$2, and a liter of beer for $1.  Everything is cheeeeaaaap here.  So cheap.  Almost unbelievable when I talk to Kelsey in CA and she tells me drinks at a bar run for $9 and here I could get good and drunk for $9.  Anyway, all the seating at the bars is outside here.  So that was nice, we just sat and relaxed for a while.  Lots of children came up to our table asking for money or trying to sell us things.  A boy about 11 years old asked us for money but Holly and Kinsey told him they would just buy him food if he wanted.  So Kinsey ordered a chicken sandwich but then he kept saying he needed it in a bag and our waiter kept telling him to leave and told us that he just wanted to sell it.  So when the sandwich finally came, Kinsey took a bite out of it before she gave it to him so that maybe he couldn’t sell it.  I watched him walk away- He gave the bun and lettuce to another boy on the street and the chicken to another and hid the fries behind his back as he immediately went up to two gringo guys and started asking them for money.

Then later, the skinniest woman I have ever seen appeared by our table.  She honestly looked like she had just stepped out of a concentration camp and she was holding a one year old baby boy.  She lingered around our table obviously wanting money.  When she came near me I asked her if she needed food for her son, who was crying, and she said yes.  So after we paid our bill, Holly and I walked with her to another restaurant to buy her a hamburger and fries.  While walking, she was talking to me telling me that she was homeless, but that’s about all I caught because she was mumbling so terribly I could barely understand her.  That’s when I decided she wasn’t a starving woman, just a drug addict.  I was holding my money in my hand because I hadn’t put it back in my purse yet, and her son, who had stopped crying, saw it in my hand and started crying again and reaching towards my money.  A one year old.  Already knows what money is and that he wants and/or needs it.  We still bought the food for them just because of the baby.  Before we left I asked her if she was going to buy milk in the morning for him and she said that she didn’t have any money, which was a lie because Ana gave her money when we were still at the table for her to go away.  I felt so bad afterwards for that poor baby.  We went to a dance club afterwards but I just really wanted to go because I felt so depressed.  Already, only one year old, that baby has no future.  It reminded me of my last program with PDE last semester where the group of students kept claiming that anyone can be successful, it just depends on what they do with the “hand they are dealt”.  What chance does that child have to ever make it anywhere?  Where in the “hand he was dealt” does he have any cards that could turn in his favor?  He’s growing up on the street, being raised by a mother who uses him to get money so that she can buy drugs and who knows if maybe he was born addicted to something as well.  He will probably never go to school or learn how to write or read.  Anyway, it was a fairly depressing evening after that.

On a lighter note, today we went to la Laguna de Apoyo and hung out at this gorgeous resort/restaurant type of thing called La Abuela (The Grandma) because the woman who owns it insists that everyone call her Abuela.  Laguna de Apoyo is a huge lagoon that was once, thousands of years ago, a giant volcano.  When it erupted, it left a huge crater, which eventually filled with water and became the lagoon.  We spent all day there, jumping off the dock into the water, swimming, and floating on rafts in the water.  Then they served us lunch and at about 2:30 we left for a market to buy souvenirs.  

Again, lots of children there were trying to sell us things.  We started talking to a group of about 4 or 5 of them who were so adorable.  When we had to leave, Ana told them to make a line outside the bus and she would give them each an apple.  But when other kids saw this they all just made a swarm for our bus.  A woman trying to sell DVDs also followed us with her children along side, one of whom had Downs Syndrome and was in a wheel chair.  I gave him my juice and he was so happy, he drank it so fast like he had never tasted juice before. 

April 16th

Last night, we met up to go out, and got a very creepy vibe from the streets.  Of course, it doesn’t help that we meet in this park where all the street people hang out as well as all the taxi drivers who are currently on strike.  So we walked to this bar/club that was supposed to be $2.50 to get in, and then you could drink for free once inside.  Well when we got there they said it was $5.00 so some of us decided not to go because we didn’t want to pay $5.00 and not even drink once inside.  Some people stayed, but most of us decided to leave and go to a bar called O’Shea’s, an Irish pub.  When we got there, my seat was wet, so I went to the nearby table where 2 attractive guys were sitting.  I wasn’t sure if they spoke Spanish so I just said (in Spanish) “Excuse me, Sorry..”  and went to take a few napkins and one guy said (in English) “You can take the whole thing..” and I said “Oh! You speak English” to which he replied “Yeah, very well actually.”  (Turned out later that he was from New York.)  So I laughed a little bit and then went back to my table.  So then Beth and I started talking about how easy on the eyes they were.  Once again, there were a lot of little kids selling baskets of cigarettes, candy, and gum on the streets.  I noticed one of them at the table of guys, and they were talking to them for a little bit longer than normal, but not buying anything.  Then I see the little boy looking at our table and pointing towards Beth and I.  Then he starts running towards me and whispers in my ear in Spanish 
"That guy told me to tell you that you're all really pretty."
"Oh really?" I said "Which guy?"
"The one in the blue and white." (He was by far the cutest).  So then I told the little boy, Jorge, to go and tell them that we thought they were cute too.  Well then Jorge just went nuts.  He started running back and forth between us, and then decided that I was his novia (girlfriend) and was kissing me and hugging me and yelling at the guys "Está celooooso! Está celosooo!" (You're jealous, You're jealous!)  He wrote "Te amo" on a napkin for me and also the names of all his family members.  And for the rest of the night he hung around our table, sometimes left his basket of goodies at my feet and ran around in the street, braided hair.  He was such a character.  I asked him why he was selling things in the street and he said because his mom tells him to.  I asked if she had a job and he said no.  Then I asked if he went to school and he said yes, but smiled when I asked if he went everyday.   Finally we had to leave and he was all quiet and sad.  I gave him a hug and told him to be careful and go to school the next day.  

Saturday April 17th 
We're on our way back now to Costa Rica.  Yesterday afternoon we took a boat ride on Lake Cocibolca to see the small islands that are there.  I think there are about 365 of them (This lake is gigantic) and a lot of the ones we saw were owned by rich foreigners.  There was one tiny island that had a family of monkeys on it.  I think someone just dropped them off there and now that's where they live.  Poor monkeys.  Then we stopped to swim for a few minutes.  I have now swam in a river, the ocean (both coasts), a lagoon, and a lake here.  

After the boat ride, Susie and I went to the top of this old church that is by our house here and got the most amazing view of the city.

Last night we went to a show of cultural dance with traditional Nicaraguan dress.  It was really cool, but really loud, so we only stayed for a half hour or so.  

Then we went to have a few drink at the Irish Pub again and guess who found us?  JORGE!  Oh he was so happy.  It was funny.  But then he got a little annoying after a few hours, and he attracted a ton more little kids who wanted to sell us stuff. 

Then a few of us walked down a little farther on the street where a live band was playing.  We sat there and listened to them until 1 am, played maracas from our table, and one girl, Kim, asked the drummer if she could play the drums during one of their breaks and he said yes.  So she jammed out on the drums and after the drummer bowed to her.  

Now we're on our way back to Costa Rica.  So far, this has been one of my favorite trips. 
Less than 3 weeks are left...It seems like I'm in a dream that I'm not going to wake up from.  But I know I am and I can't even believe it.