A Summing Up

A few more words about Nicaragua before it starts to slip away.  Granada, where we spent so many hours wandering, deserves a bit more explanation.

A block or two from the tourist restaurants and cathedrals, life seems to slow to a languid pace all at once.  Locals open the front of their homes and sit on the sidewalks or in their open courtyards in full view of the streets.

In some places the sidewalks crumble into gravel, in others they struggle to cling to form.  In most cases, they are maintained with dignity, a constant stream of water flowing in the gutters as people wash and sweep their fronts. The brightly colored facades flicker in and out as paint jobs fade.  Occasionally, you’ll find a man lain across his stoop but, more likely, a barber shop or young bucks riding bikes and calling to the girls or old women fanning themselves as they watch you pass.  The smells of cooking fires and grease from street stalls fall away leaving only the mingling of car exhaust mixed intermittently with tropical flowers, sometimes, urine, always heat.

Local foot traffic picks up considerably around the marketplace.  Change makers flapping thick wads of Cordobas, offering you fair rates and smaller bills. Guys in sunglasses under tent umbrellas selling phone cards, blasting reggaeton from 15 year-old boom box speakers.  Makeshift stalls pushing Aeropostale and Hollister shirts next to sponges and dishwashing detergent and bootleg CDs.

The market itself is dark and thick with hot, raw poultry and pig’s heads.  Not mention begging dogs and sleeping children and sweatshirts and women getting pedicures.

Back out on the streets, tourists are politely encouraged to purchase cashews.  This gentleman opted for our preferred style of many different sized bags stacked neatly on top of one another and balanced on his palm.  Others stacked the bags on their heads.  Not as good.  If you didn’t want cashews you could always buy candy, single cigarettes, knock-off Ray Bans, cigars, whistles, or hammocks.  Evidently, Nicaraguans make a damn fine hammock.  The following hammock would be appropriate for a baby or a cat.

Nicaraguan cuisine revolves around beans, rice, plaintains, eggs, cheese, chicken, beef, pork, some fish from the lake, pineapples, mangoes, papayas, watermelon, bananas, ice cream bars, Coca-cola, light beer, and rum. A lot of it requires a good dose of Costa Rican hot sauce.  If you’d like to try it, please visit David Weinman in Bloomington, Indiana as he is in possession of a dozen or so bottles.

Because our first few days in Granada fell during the Easter Week (Semana Santa) we were treated to a full day’s worth of super slow-moving brass band processionals.  The music was good and sad, the umbrellas were open, and Jesus and Mary got very lit up at night.

As promised, here’s the bat that started dying inside our house.  First it just sat there.  Then there was blood. Then there was bat poop. It flopped around a lot.  It was a rough way to go for the little guy.  We eventually had to throw a towel over him.  And a laundry hamper. Then scoot him along the floor to the street where he died.  Vaya con dios.

And it goes without saying that every house and restaurant has a central courtyard and that now we want a central courtyard in Philadelphia even though it would quickly fill up with Fishtown cats and opossums and litter and drunk dudes in Flyers jerseys. We still want one.

Jon would also like to remind you that he got to fulfill his lifelong dream of touching a wild monkey in a boat.

Ometepe certainly bears another mention, as well.  It was a place we’d never heard of a few months ago.  More than that, its remoteness made it the kind of place we probably would’ve been too squeamish to visit in the past. But we loved it.  And we’re ready to see more of life, on and slightly more off the grid.

Here’s a kayaking pic.  Thanks to Dave for balancing his oar in his lap and somehow managing to get his camera out of the ziploc bag long enough to take it without crashing into a cow or an egret.

All our love to Kelly Craig, Dave, and Hyndi for making the trip with us. It was beautiful to share this time with you.  Thanks to everyone who followed along on the blog. A special thanks to JC and Viv for taking care of Jammers.  She’s so old and easy to break but you managed to keep her alive another week.  We’d kiss each one of you near a fountain if we could. – The Goffbergs

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