Monthly Archives: August 2012

Viaje al Bosque

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Have I mentioned that it’s rainy season here in Nicaragua?  It was easy to forget while in Granada.

Before coming to Central America, I pictured rainy season here to mirror the punctual thunderstorms of south Florida’s hurricane season – rain that pounds down, obliterating the horizon for 20 minutes a day before clearing up.  In Granada and here in Ometepe, the rain is more infrequent than those daily storms but tends to stick around for longer.

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Bulls!

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Sunday pasado was the running of the bulls in Granada.  In the weeks and months leading up to this event, I heard many stories.  Nicaraguan men speak about the tradition of the event.  Locals assure me that it’s controlled and safe because the bulls have ropes that are used to control their movements.  Extranjeros tell me it’s pure craziness, with bulls being allowed to roam the streets at their will.  Everybody has a story of a friend of a friend who was gored by a bulls’ horn.  They’ll tell this story as they make slashing marks across their abdomen, thigh, or buttocks to explain where the unlucky fellow got too close to the bull.

Listening to these stories had me in a mind to avoid the event altogether.  I am an animal lover, and I have the impression that events of these types usually don’t bode well for the animals involved.  So I planned to spend a quiet Saturday away from the festivities.

The day began well.  I worked the morning at the Finca Market at Hotel La Bocona.  This is a monthly event that features produce from organic farms, local charities, and businesses selling items from bracelets made by prisoners to support their families to imported perfume and incense from India.  It’s a nice opportunity to connect with the extranjero community.  I was there with my friend and fellow yoga teacher to talk to people about Pure Gym and to sell delicious homemade chocolates.  We had some great conversations and I walked away with a luscious bag of organic spinach for less than $1.

On returning to the gym, I sat down to practice my yoga.  I sat in sukhasana and calmed my breath, working to clear my mind and gaze within.  As I sat in stillness, I realized that I did not want to miss the day’s festivities.  This life is about following your heart, so I rolled my mat up and took off for the streets.

On leaving the studio, the energy in the streets was palpable.  Granada is a town that caters to tourists, so the streets are seldom empty.  This weekend though, they were packed.  People were in high spirits mingling on every street throughout the city.  I made my way down towards the Calzada, the main strip of restaurants and artisanias.  I encountered many of my friends there who warned me of the danger of going further.  At this point, though, I was intrigued.  I wandered towards Parque Central, meeting more friends along the way.  One sweet chavallo friend was manning a grill with with whole ears of corn while his mom sold other delicious treat for cheap and tasty sustenance.  The crowd grew thicker as I worked my way towards to park.  I began to hear swells of trumpets and drums and made my way towards the music.

At this point, I began to really relax and take in the good energy surrounding me.  I love being among groups of people in such high energy!  The spirit is contagious.  The park was CROWDED!  People every which way.  I felt as though I saw almost everybody I know in the city – each time I turned around there was another familiar friendly face.  After walking around the perimeter of the park, I began to work my way back through the crowd in the hopes of seeing the bull when it ran by in the street.  Moments after I got into the park, the crowd began to move.  People towards the street started to run and the crowd surged forward.  Having no interest in running, I ducked behind a tree and hung on while the crowd flowed around me.  False alarm.  People soon calmed down and returned to chatting with friends and peering over heads to try and see the toro.

Each time I felt the crowd had calmed and began to move out from behind my safe tree, the crowd would begin to move and run again.  I quickly made my way to another safe spot – stopping to hide behind trees, a parked truck, and vendors’ carts.  Anything that looked like it wasn’t going to start moving along with the crowd.  In this way, I made my way to within spitting distance of the bull.  The Bull.  The bull who was clearly in the park, and not running by safely in the street like I’d expected.  Sopresa!

Bull in the street. Photo by Pip Wildman

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Una Oportunidad para el Silencio

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When we want to dive into a deeper, more meditative practice of yoga and listening to the mind, our modern lives require that we consciously create that space.  That might mean creating an area for meditation in your home – a room or corner dedicated to deep thought or introspection.  It might mean that you find a group of people meeting regularly at your local yoga studio, zen buddha center, or something similar, and show up for class.  Or, it might mean that you take a length of time to retreat, to an organized event like a 10 Vipassana Meditation Center, or simply to the wilderness.  In my life, I have always, always, always found a deep heart connection simply by surrounding myself with trees.  I have sweet memories from my childhood when I would trek off to the small woods behind my elementary school and spend hours taking in the loamy scent of decaying leaves and swampy mud and stare up at the tree tops and the sky beyond, feeling connected to all those trees growing tall over my head with roots intertwining under the earth beneath me.  One of my favorite hiding spots as a young girl was a tremendous pine tree with boughs that spread out wide but a quiet, clear space in the center.  I would soften enter that tree and stay under it’s cool, green protection for hours, and would seek it out specifically when I was upset about something.  I always found that quiet space with the scent of time cooling and calming.  That said, I find myself ready now to move on from Granada and towards the wilderness.  As I prepare to make this change, I”m also finding my practice move away from a strongly physical practice and more towards a yin yoga, Kundalini yoga, pranayama, and meditative practice.

Granada has been the perfect place to transition to life in Central America.  Being the wealthiest city in Nicaragua, it offers many niceties to extranjeros such as opportunities for western food, a lively and active Calzada where the cerveza flows and the conversation raps all night, and opportunities to escape the oppressive heat in cool blue pools.  Read the rest of this entry

Queso Americano

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I’m craving cheese today.  Salty, sharp Wisconsin cheddar cheese.  The closest I could find in the market is a processed, yellow cheese that looks like a sliced Kraft cheese-like-product.  It contains a label of Procesado Typo de Americano Queso, Amarillo.   No bueno!

The cheese I’m craving is actually part of a larger craving — for a refried bean, spinach, and cheese taco.  I stopped in a place advertising tacos and my craving was not on the menu.  I decided instead to hit the market and see what I could find to make my own.

First stop was Pali, the local supermercado that caters to Nicaraguans who want food not provided by the outdoor market.  Read the rest of this entry