Tag Archives: Nicaragua

Back in the States

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It’s been a week of travel and adventure making my way back to the US.  Flights out of Nicaragua were less expensive, and more convenient than flying out of Costa Rica, so I set about traveling north, this time twith some people.

The thing about traveling with others is that we’re a bit slower together, and there are more opportunities for frazzled nerves.  There is a quote about that:

If you want to walk fast, walk alone.  

If you want to walk far, walk together.

~Unknown

And so true, we did travel further together, albeit a bit slower, than we would have alone.  The highlight of the bumpy bus rides and dirty hostel rooms located over noisy bus stations (read: no sleep!), was the car rental.  My friend and I decided to splurge on a car rental since they are so inexpensive in the low season.  We had many mochillas and maletas, backpacks and suitcases with us, and the ride north to our final destination promised 3 crowded chicken buses and seven hours, versus a cool 3 hour ride in a rental car.

And cool it was.  Our little Corolla, which only costs us $40 for the day, came with air conditioning, a smooth steering wheel, and a radio with a spot to plug in a memory stick.  “Music!  We get to pick our own music!?!”  One half hour of instruction booklet reading later, and we were jamming to reggae and latin and world music as the beautiful green mountains of Nicaragua rolled by.

Mountaintop Trikonasana in the hills of Esteli

Mountaintop Trikonasana in the hills of Esteli

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Family Living

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I’ve recently moved in with a new family, a special way to spend my final month in Nicaragua. I’m enjoying getting to know the generations of family who share the home. The strength of familial relationships is, for me, one of the most appealing things about Latin culture. In my new home reside: grandma and grandpa, two sons – one of whom also lives with his pregnant wife and three children, and one daughter with her husband and young daughter. Visiting daily are other members of the family who live on the same street or close by. El abuelo, the grandpa, is an accomplished poet who shared some of his writing with me this morning. Read the rest of this entry

Health and Wealth in the New Year

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Feliz Ano Nuevo!  The bombas exploded at midnight, lighting the night sky and filling the barrios with even more explosions than have been heard during the whole month of December.  Nicaraguense set afire both fireworks that exploded individually and effigies of the old year — scarecrow men stuffed with firecrackers, newspapers, and messages of a happy new year.  When the explosions quieted, the visiting began – house to house as neighbors visited neighbors and friends and families mingled.  After 1 am, the crowds dispersed – either early to bed or out for late night fiestas celebrating until dawn broke the sky.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you the Nicas don’t know how to party.

My 2013 in Nicaragua finds me working in a hotel mornings and teaching yoga afternoons and evenings. Read the rest of this entry

Working with an Inward Focus

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Mercury went into Retrograde for the third time this year at the beginning of the month.  I felt the effects early enough in the forms of difficulties in communication with friends and family that sometimes led to hurt feelings or a breakdown of plans.  In case you’re not familiar with Mercury in Retrograde, it’s characterized by difficulties communicating, breakdowns of electronics used in communicating – phones, computers, fax machines, and a general ‘not working out’ of plans made.  It’s a poor time to make any big decisions such as changing jobs, buying a house or a car, or for signing contracts.

This does not bode well for the job search which I started in earnest in October and continues through this month with growing intensity as I see the ‘green energy’ in my bank account dwindle.  Read the rest of this entry

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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Life in Nica

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A friend was sharing a story about getting into the wrong taxi at the airport.  He was in Managua, and chose the taxi that was a fancy car, with a driver who was dressed in nice clothes and wore a good watch.  My friend said he chose this driver because he felt he had less of a chance of getting robbed.  At the time, he was traveling with some friends from North America.  He said the taxi drive was long, going over a dark road through the middle of Nicaragua on a dark night, with nobody around.  Somewhere in the middle of this road, the taxi driver pulled the car over, pulled his gun out, and took everything from the boys in the backseat.  My friend and his companions were left standing in a dark road in the Nicaraguan night,  minus all their belongings.

“How awful,” I gasped at this point in the story.  “So, how did you get back with no money and no passports?”

“Oh,” said my friend, “they always leave you with your passports and some bus money.”

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