When twos become ones and nones
Things are amiss. Items have disappeared. They are no longer in my line of sight. They are not in my possession. I don’t want to use the ‘t’ word but me and some of my things are no longer together. We seem to have parted company. We’ve gone our separate ways. We’ve been split up. It’s a matter or interpretation. A matter of semantics.
Little light fingers
During summer school each day we lost something be it a pencil an eraser or a pencil sharpener. One day we lost an eraser, two pencil sharpeners and several pencils. It didn’t matter if we counted things out and counted them back in again, we always seemed to be down an item or two. I even lost a clump of orange plasticine. One minute it was on the desk when we were packing away, the next it was gone, vanished, no more. I couldn’t blame the little culprits, after all these little things are little luxuries. I tried to get across the concept of sharing but things still vanished. When clearing out my rucksack at the end of summer school I found three pencils!!
Chopping board, chopping board wherefore art thou?
There were two green rectangle chopping boards. I say were because then there was one. I spoke to the charity director who explained that the cleaners didn’t have these things in their homes and sometimes threw them out with the rubbish! Or sometimes, she said, they simply just packed them away in a different place. I searched high and low – including under my bed several times just in case I had taken to sleepwalking and stowed it there. Some days later while standing on a chair looking for something else (as you do) I spotted the green chopping board. Hurrah. When I came back from Jamaica the green chopping board was gone for good. The new girls in the house denied ever having seen two green chopping boards. You know something, I still look for that green chopping board from time-to-time.
A sharp’s tale
There are many knives in La Casita. The problem is most of them don’t chop, cut or do very much for that matter. There are two meat cleavers that talk a good job but are in effect useless. So, it was quite understandable that a shuttle-launching rage struck me when I discovered that the only working knife in the house had vanished. If you look closely at the chopping board picture you’ll see that knife. The charity director said it had probably been thrown away. Thrown away? She gave us three new knives which are extra sharp and I nearly removed my thumb with one. Before I went to Jamaica I took a picture of the three new knives in the cupboard.
Teresa left. Amelie left. Ana left. They left behind food items that I decided to pass on to people in some of the other volunteer houses. I put the items on the kitchen table. I was practising yoga and heard the cleaner come and go. I may even have heard somebody else come and go. I’m not sure, I was involved in a 90-minute open-eye meditation. When I’d finished I went into the kitchen – the items had gone. Next time I saw Amerie, the cleaner, she said she’d seen the items, described them in detail and said she’d left them where they were. Chicago Jim, who has since retired due to ill health, was also questioned. He said he brought lightbulbs but did not take anything from La Casita. So, we are looking for a light-fingered baker who likes chicken noodle soup and is currently cutting up items with my favourite knife on my favourite green chopping board. Grrrrr.
The Hetty Daffodil Mysteries – supersized
I’m prone to treating myself. It’s my middle name. However, at Christmas my dear friend Hetty thought she’d treat me to some cava, chocolates and a few other items including sweets and pencils for the children in Pantanal. It was a wonderful thought and I cherish it. However, we did not account for Nicaragua’s interpretation of the postal system a dim-witted person at Parcel Force/FedEx in the UK or Nicaragua’s customs service. Hetty ‘Marple’ Daffodil kept tabs on the parcel via the FedEx/Parcel Force/Passus Velox tracking system. Meanwhile, I quite literally lost track of who was actually delivering the parcel. The parcel was over the ocean. I was in Granada, Nicaragua. The parcel was in Miami. I was in Miami. The parcel was in Colombia or was it Panama? Or did it go to both these countries? I was in Jamaica. The parcel was in Managua. The parcel had been collected by Frank, one of my colleagues at La Esperanza. So, Lyndaloo Marple Poirot came to town and began her own investigations. Frank was no longer in Nicaragua. Frank had not collected the parcel. Frank had been handed some kind of docket which he tucked away in one of the volunteer houses. Frank was in San Jose preparing for his big trip to South America. Lyndaloo Marple Poirot went to the volunteer house – La Libertad. I searched for the docket. I found mouse droppings and dirt and fretted about leptospirosis. Somebody else found the docket. I went home and washed my hands with antibacterial soap.
The Mysterious Maria Jose
Eventually, myself and the docket came together. I had to go online to find a contact number for the parcel depot. I was transferred to lots of people. I was grateful that there was a real receptionist and no voicemail or queuing system. I got a name. Maria Jose. Maria Jose was not answering her phone. Hetty Daffodil suggested that perhaps Maria Jose was busy having a long luxurious bath with my shower gel and perhaps munching my chocolates while writing a long letter with the pencils. I finally spoke to Maria Jose who said I would have to pay $140 in taxes to collect the package. Mysteriously the package which left the UK weighing 5.6kg now weighed 4.5kg. Where was my cava? Anyone who knows me knows you do not come between me and my cava. There was an incident on my birthday which involved tears and a restaurant manager running to the shops to buy champagne. I’d have to go to Managua to investigate.
The Rumble in Managua
I was ready. When it comes to discontent my Spanish does not fail me. It seems quite easy to argue in this language. The trouble is you don’t mess with Managua. The Nica’s here say “oooh, it’s dangerous … oooooh, you don’t want to go there on your own.”
I took Agreeable Chest (to be mentioned in a forthcoming blog, perhaps). We took the express bus from Managua, then a taxi costing an extortionate 40 pesos per person to get to the depot (it’s five pesos for two people on the bus). We got to the customs office just before 1130am. The office was closed and there was a queue of people hoping they’d reopen the gates and let them in. We left. Clearly, arriving at Managua’s main parcel depot mid morning is more than foolish. Next time we’d camp out overnight.
Rage in Managua
Now here’s the thing – the other day someone said: “Perhaps it’s best if you don’t call me if you haven’t practised yoga.” I may have been a little testy that day. So, on the day I went to collect my package for a second time I got up at 0510 without practising yoga. Things did not bode well for the poor man at FedEx in Managua’s parcel depot. Maybe I should have practised pranayama breathing in the very long queue as I’d contemplated during the two-hour wait. This time we took the bus. I needed the loo but decided I’d best wait. When we arrived at the depot at around 7am there was already a queue of about a hundred people. I was wondering how long I’d have to wait to get to the loo. I wondered if it was possible for the urine in my bladder to evaporate under the heat of the morning sun. At about 730am the queue started to advance. A man came along and said only people with documents could go inside. Agreeable Chest found some discarded sports pages from La Prensa. Apparently, Jamaica and Nicaragua are going to be going head-to-head in the beach volleyball championships. Jamaica is Nicaragua’s toughest challenge to date. People were being let inside the depot. At about 8am I got inside the building and joined another queue. We were given numbered tickets. I was number 57, for what it was worth. I started to practise yoga – in my head. I did contemplate getting onto the floor and doing the whole 90-minute routine but decided against it. I’m not sure they could have coped with the spectacle. A depot woman appeared and explained something but I couldn’t hear. Everyone around me was asking “What did she say, what’s she saying?” No idea.
The next thing we are advancing and there is a rugby scrum as people started hurling themselves through the door to the barks of “stay in a line!” from the depot staff. I then joined another queue and realised I was in the wrong one. Eventually I found the FedEx depot section. No. My parcel was not there. I had to go to customs at gate 2. First exit on the right. I have no sense of direction but somehow it all came together. When I got to customs the man said “Go to FedEx.” “I’ve just been there,” I said, my voice raising an octave or two, “and the guy there told me to come here.” “Nope, got to FedEx,” he insisted. So, I went back to FedEx. The man at FedEx said – yes, you’ve guessed it: “Go to customs.” Straight out of a scene from Laurel and Hardy. I explained what had happened and the FedEx guy came with me to customs. Then the man at customs looked something up on his computer and said something about $100 dollars and pointed to a direction where I needed to go to pay. Cue: shuttle launch. The FedEx man said “because we’ve had your parcel for more than 20 days there is a $100 charge plus $5 for every subsequent day.”
Cue: space craft approaching Mars. By the time I tracked down the docket which they failed to tell me anything about it had already been more than 20 days. I told the FedEx man the contents were not worth the amount I had to pay. He shrugged his shoulders. I also muttered about missing contents. Remember, don’t come between me and my cava. I then snatched the docket from the FedEx guy. Cue: shuttle shooting past Neptune. I’ll never forget the look of horror on his face. I think he thought I was going to hit him. I then flounced out of the building and back onto the streets. “Did you go to the loo?” Asked Agreeable Chest. Shuttle launching rage x degree of anger = reduced bladder necessity.
Open Unsolved Crimes
After some rather un-Marple-Poirot-esque behaviour the case of the mssing package has been closed, or rather, moved to the Open Unsolved Crimes Unit. The investigator is lying down in a darkened room muttering newly-acquired Nicaraguan expletives. Someone at Customs, perhaps Marie Jose, is having a high time with chocolates, cava, shower gel, E45 cream, pencils and antibacterial wipes.
To be continued…