We woke to rain. We breakfasted in a little rain, this time with our housekeeper Sonja making fruit and a really big pancake for us. Afterwards while I sat enjoying a little coffee I got chatting with her. Chatting is a bit of an overstatement as it implies two way dialogue and assumes we can communicate. It was more active listening on my part while she chatted up a storm. Between the parrot squawking next door and other conversations around…it was a definite challenge to understand even a little.
I found out that she likes Canadians. Much more easy going than Italians or Germans. Spanish tourists are some of the worst as they are always demanding more coffee and eggs…and complain to her boss when things are not perfect. At least…that is what I think she was getting at. She also has a son in Montreal and he is encouraging her to come to Canada, however she has very little English and no French… and when you add to that no skills other than cooking and cleaning there wouldn’t be much for her to do in a very expensive country like ours. She also has a couple 8 year old daughters, or her son does…i missed that detail. She chatted for a while more, I listened. It was good…then our Seattle cohabitants arrived for breakfast.
Ian and Sarah, slept in after a long day of hiking, surfing and eating and today they were heading all the way up to Leon by multiple chicken buses, via Managua. I chatted quickly with them, and made a little space for more guests venturing out of their rooms for that first meal of the day.
The rain let up a little and we ventured out for a hike out to the lighthouse nearby. Apparently there is an old fortress out next to this lighthouse which could be really interesting. We made our way down to the end of the boardwalk and there in a very non touristy part of town was a little washed out path that lead into the bushes next to some very shacky looking homes. Looming rain clouds and unfamiliarity with the area turned us back for an early lunch…plus to get more information. The hostess at our place didnt even know there was a lighthouse here, and she had been here a couple years. At one of the hostels in town we asked at the cash counter where the guides were. They also looked a bit dumbfounded when asking about el faro. The strangeness of the situation had us just turn back for a pool day after lunch. No sense getting ourselves in a sticky situation where no one would know where to look for us…especially if nobody goes out there.
Lunch was an overpriced Korean chicken burrito. The garlic, onion and spice is going to wreak a little havoc on my guts in the morning. It is good Melanie and I ate the same thing, otherwise one of us would need to sleep in the bunk bed next door. We sat there in the window of the place, enjoying spicy burritos and drinking hibiscus ginger iced tea…watching this part of the world go by. Vendors peddling sunglasses, pottery, massive avocados and hammocks. Gringo girls would walk by in their bikini tops and short shorts distracting cab drivers and really everybody. Local women wear pants and shirts. These young travellers did not really do any research on customarily acceptable levels of skin exposure…but this is now a partying beach town and the gringo dollar comes along with all its distractions.
We made it back to our room. We only have a couple more nights here and feel like it is time to figure out how to move on. Costa Rica is next. We now have it figured that we can catch an expensive shuttle all the way too Liberia which will get us to the border, guide us through the simple customs process, and put us on an air conditioned bus with wifi for the Costa Rican end of this journey. We would then need to catch a bus from Liberia to our endpoint of Playa del Coco. Another option is to cab to the border. Walk ourselves through and catch a bus on the other side to Liberia…then another to Coco. We are stuck with buses one way or another, so it now comes down to how much we want to spend. Time will be essentially the same.
We keep looking into car rental, however the insurance required in Costa Rica is high on very cheap rentals. I read something about vehicle costs being elevated, and a lack of insurance regulation which means extra dollars being made by many. Considering we would be looking at 30 days of coverage that would make for a very expensive rental. We can revisit the rental situation when we are in CR, but for now it looks like we will stick with buses and pricey shuttles. Maybe the occasional cab ride.
So, a pool day. We jumped in and Melanie struck up a conversation with one of the guests here. A 65 year old public defender from North Carolina. She says she wants to retire, but she still likes her criminals. After 20 years as a federal judge, she has taken a smaller role on a part time basis to keep herself interested and helping out. That part time role still ends up being a full time job though and for her efforts she is rewarded with only occasional payments totalling around 1000 per month. A lot of detail for such a short conversation, but plied with wine the discussion seemed to move very fluidly through politics, gun ownership and career goals. Nice work Melanie on some careful maneuvering.
We dried off and headed out to see the sunset. After being rained on in the pool as well, the sky was breaking up a little and I held our hope there might be a little red on the horizon. We made it down to the water and tonight…no sunset. Just thick, dark clouds way out there on the water shrouding even the tiniest bit of sunlight. We thought we might stop in for happy hour at the little broken down place we ate at last night, but the kitchen was closed. We did see that they had made good progress on reinstalling rails around the patio and were getting close to replacing the floor. Maybe tomorrow. Instead, we wandered back a few blocks. We checked out the lonely Canadian bar, offering poutine and ceasars. We walked by the Asian stirfry place we already had two times. Tonight we saw happy hour at a place called the Barrio Cafe. We weren’t impressed by the menu the last couple times walking by, and the prices seemed high. The Seattle couple mentioned this morning that the place was amazing. They ate there 3 times in the two days they were here, and normally they never go back to the same spot.
We decided to give it a shot. Happy hour was watermelon lemonade with a shot of rum. Delicious! For a meal, Melanie ordered a Creole shrimp dish and I the Nica Adoba grilled chicken. Outstanding…scrumptious…wow. We ate until our plates were clean with zero room for ice cream. Everyone knows there is always room for ice cream, but not tonight. A fantastic meal which we wrapped up with a couple more of those watermelon lemonades.
As we sat there, satiated, an older guy parked his shiny new pickup across the street. This was a very slow park job and was mildly entertaining. After a few minutes, the vehicle was parked and he exited only to walk in and sit a seat down from Melanie. He looked up and greeted us. Conversation then ensued. Today must be a day of chatting…and there is no shortage of it.
This guy opens the discussion by asking if Melanie was a teacher. He apparently has a knack for pegging people and their professions. Me, he figured i had to be a technician. Close enough. He also figured that we must have 2 kids. He might have been a little high on that estimate. Melanie was quick to point out that maybe those days are long past for baby growing, but this guy disagreed. He figured that as long as I was ‘active’ then he had procedures that could keep a woman menstruating past 60. He figured it is never too late to start a family, since he started at 70. Where does this discussion go next?
Meet Dr. Julius Hellenthal. German, or Austrian, doctor that was involved in many different experimental therapies over the years. He was involved back in ‘42 with stem cell research and he continues today. His wife, whom he has this now 5 year old son with was a patient of his. She apparently was what we might call a ‘black widow’. Her first three husbands died, we dont know why, and the last of those gave her HIV. For some reason the HIV paralyzed her from the waist down at which point Dr. J figured he could help with his years of wartime medical research and experimental eye treatments. After 6 day, she started to walk. We really needed to sit down with this guy for a week to get all the little details cleared up, like how that resulted in this pretty Nica lady marrying an old German guy. And why was it OK to leave the 5 year old boy asleep in the back of the truck while he enjoyed both a tea and coffee simultaneously. The whole story was so outrageous, including his rants about free energy machines and curing skin cancer with electricity due to different electrical resistance between healthy and cancerous cells…we really didnt know what to believe. Plus, we are in Nicaragua.
We had to separate ourselves from this conversation before his angry wife came back. She did pop in, ask where the boy was, she then went over to the truck and grabbed the kid and stormed off. We didnt know what to expect next. We came back to the room and did some googling. His whole story checks out.
You never know who you might meet when on the road. This is way better than television.