Whoohoo! or Whoop! Whoop! (woop-woop where there’s limited space). I believe this occurred when I turned my back on the modern world. I have a mobile phone for Nicaragua. So far I’ve had one international call from a woman in the London 2012 Games Maker office at 630am – the night after the Halloween party that I’d *popped* to. What I mean is, I hadn’t intended to stay very long but once I got my hands on the rum and cola, one drink led to another and I don’t remember what time I got home. But, that I was very loud and woke up my flatmate (oh dear). Anyway, the London 2012 woman rang asking me where Nicaragua was. There seemed to be no mention of the half a dozen emails I’d sent explaining the time difference or my geographical location. Next time I’ll send her a Google map, a Wikipedia link and a calculator: 12-6= too blinkin’ early!
All rise for Her Royal Highness
To say Lady Lynda of Nicaragua is a bit of a celebrity would be an understatement. I’ve adopted a philosophical approach to this: when people look I smile and wave. You should see their faces it’s like the Queen said “Wasssap” or something. It works a treat. I think Nicas really appreciate it because a lot of tourists are a little aggressive or reserved. Since my arrival I think the United Nations has put out some kind of international publicity notice because the number of people my colour this side of Nicaragua has quintupled. Three people – suspected to be from Africa – nearly fell over themselves looking at me recently and
a revolutionary-firewater-drinking Sandinista seemed to take a shine to me (requires a whole new episode of its own). He’ll have to take his place behind Wilson Chilson (carta no. 3) and the waiter who said I was the most beautiful woman to have arrived from Great Britain to be visiting Nicaragua.
I love a good supermarket shop. Even when I was at university I shopped like someone who had a family of 30 hungry children. Nothing has changed. I thought I’d be able to curb this in Nicaragua – that is until I discovered the Nica equivalent of Waitrose and Sainsbury’s side-by-side and a 20-minute walk out of Granada. To say I was palpitating and hyperventilating would only be a minor exaggeration. I believe the excessive air conditioning alleviated the sweating.
People will probably laugh when I say they have things like olive oil, balsamic vinegar and red wine but these items cost an arm and a leg. I felt really bad picking up a 250ml bottle of olive oil for about $4 when a Nicaraguan woman next to me looked longingly and then opted for the standard oil which is a mix of palm oil, soya, ‘perhaps’ sunflower oil and is also refined and goodness knows what else.
The days of the scorpions
As I write this I’ve just killed a tiny scorpion that was climbing up the wall outside my mosquito net (botella‘d). However, it’s best to go back to the very beginning of this tale. It was the night/early hours of the morning when I was just about to publish my first Nica blog and the page went blank and I lost more than 50% of what I’d done because even though I’d been saving the drafts they hadn’t been updating. This probably explained why I didn’t scream when I saw what I thought was a mincing beetle scuttle across the floor. On close inspection I noticed a tail. I took my flip-flop to it. Blam!
It was zapato’d”. The next day when I got out the shower I saw what I thought was a reddish-coloured spider winking at me. Yes, winking. Again I put my beedy eyes closer and noticed it was a scorpion. This time I got out the Baygon and was nearly a gonna myself. The creature was quite literally blown away by the force of the spray whether it died or whether the thing I just killed was said alacrán returning, I’ll never know. What I do know is my flatmates were a little dubious that it was a scorpion until my housemate, Ana, flew from her room after spotting the mother of scorpions in the corner of her roof (she doesn’t really have a ceiling). Several gallons of Baygon later and a mashing with the broom and the beast of alacrán was quite literally in pieces. It seems that what I killed were babies. (As I go to press a scorpion has just crawled across Teresa’s bed – moments after I tried to reinforce the importance of a mosquito net!)
I do ron, ron
One has to improvise. Wine is too expensive. Red wine cost about $17. Therefore, I’m using Flor de Caña (ron) in my cooking. It’s working a treat. So far: ron salsa with enough leftover rum to calm my bug-stressed nerves.
Bull in a china shop
My sign is that of the toro – Taurus. That I weighed so little at birth probably has a lot to do with my obsession with overloading my bag – it’s some kind of reverse psychology. On a visit to Masaya, which is about a 30-minute bus ride from Granada, my bag was full before I even thought about shopping. I’m a just-in-case kind of person: the sudden heatwave, the torrential downpour, the mosquito invasion, something might happen that requires an item in my bag and so I must come prepared for all eventualities – including water should there be a drought (in a country that has had some of the worst torrential rains in the region and has more lakes than you can shake a stick at).
On this particular occasion I was in a market stall shop with what I can only describe as the most hideous pottery when – crash – my rucksack decided that it too disliked the objects of non-art. I had to pay for all the broken items. I asked if I could pay half but they refused so I had to hand over 140 córdobas/pesos. I didn’t have the correct money so gave them 200 pesos. They returned my change in one-peso coins! And to cap it all, they gave me one of the items which hadn’t completely broken and even demonstrated that it still worked as a whistle or flute or something.
Lock and barrel – return of the Mincing Cerrajero
A bit like Chicago Jim, I suspect my flatmates thought the Mincing Cerrajero was a figment of my imagination – that is until the lock broke while I was away for the weekend. That this happened while I was away is probably where things went wrong. When I got back I struggled to lock the door. My flatmate Ana told me I had to be gentle, so a couple of days later I started a new mantra “tranquilo, suavecito” I didn’t even finish saying suavecito when the lock came away in my hand with the key in it.
When Daniel arrived I got carried away and gave him two kisses instead of the Latino single mwah! His entrance was with even more dramatic than the first time I met him. He’d been robbed of his rucksack – fortunately not the faux-Gucci/Louis Vuitton (insert designer handbag name here) in which he keeps his tools (it’s a bit dirty and I didn’t want to stare too much so details of the exact faux-ness are sketchy). He told the story with such flare that a Bafta or an Olivier Award should be the least he should get. A night out with Daniel is on my things-to-do-in-Nica list.
Next time …
A revolutionary election special including: at home in Matagalpa – the bedrock of the Sandinistas, Mr Revolution and … the EU election monitor worried about the welfare of chicken at Nicaragua’s fast-food restaurant chain, Tip-Top.
To be continued…