The Rundown - April 2016
So I decided to start something new on ye ol' blog, and that is a monthly rundown of what I got up to, posted, where I travelled and what I saw, and even read. Why? Because a lot of life happens in the smaller moments and those moments, though not "big" enough for their own post, still come together to create a pretty great life. And that deserves remembering, writing down and, yes, sharing.I would love to hear your thoughts, friends, and more about what each of you gets up to on the regular!
I went to hear Stephen Kinzer, author of Blood of Brothers, speak. His book is an incredible real life account of Kinzer's journalistic experiences through the Sandinista Revolution and the Contra War and all around great book for learning about how Nicaragua got to where it is. He writes with awareness that he is not Nicaraguan, but with an obvious love and appreciation for Nicaragua. I also found him to be quite unbiased in his writing, owing to his journalism career, I am sure. He was an eloquent and fun speaker and elaborated upon a few of the stories from the book and opened up about his perceptions of what has been going on in Nicaragua since then. And afterward he took the time to share a word, sign books, and take a photo with all of the attendees! He seemed a really nice, thoughtful, and interesting man, and as a book lover and fellow lover of Nicaragua, it was a real treat to meet him.
Nicaragua hosted their first Ladyfest, a free concert featuring local female talents as well as local artisans selling their wares (or services). A few of us girls went and had our hands henna'd, listened to awesome female rap, and just chilled in the presence of a really diverse group of female-friendly guests. These are the kinds of things I wanted out of Managua! So thank you, Managua, for delivering :)
I splashed out for a facial that was advertised on a discount site and was so excited about it. Managua is dusty and humid, meaning my pores have taken on a life of their own and are growing at an ever-increasing pace. It's alarming (sorry for the TMI). So I was stoked. But as you can imagine, things did not turn out exactly as I had hoped... How theyB did turn out was thatB I paid $10 for a 10 minute "facial" in which my face was nicely cleaned and lightly scrubbed before I was metaphorically patted on the back side and sent on my way. IB actually went home after my "facial" and did an at-home face mask. It was hilarious, honestly. Disappointing, but hilarious. However, lo and behold, when I woke up the next morning IB did feel as though my skin was improved. Could it be the quickie facial or is it the $2 mask I bought from Walmart? We'll never know...
I started taking the rutas, Managua's city buses. They are SUPER crowded with people literally hanging out the doors and off the steps. Dangerous. I don't do that. I squish in or wait for the next one if necessary. Don't fret! But ya, they are crowded and crazy, making them the perfect spot for pickpockets and generally just kind of gross (many sweating bodies touching you), but a necessary and essential part of the Managuan experience. Overpriced taxis are for suckas!B ;-) I sawB my first Nicaraguan ballet, a re-enactment of Snow White. It was a different take on a ballet that I'm used to, in that it was more like a really top-notch dance recital. Different age groups all featured (the youngest were dancing flowers, then there were butterflies and deer, and the oldest were the stars of the show), the music came from a sound system in place of a live orchestra, and the main background in many of the scenes was a computer projected image. But you know, it was still enjoyable though I'll admit I am unlikely to run out and see the very next one. The lead dancers were quite good and since it was touted as "fun for the whole family" they added in a little slapstick humour for the kids. And ya, I laughed right along with them. It was a memorable girls night out and a welcome excuse to throw on a little lippy.
I went to the dentist! I have not been to the dentist in two years and I was SO excited to get a cleaning. And then so very pleasantly surprised by the pricing! It'sB seriously basement bargain cheap for dental work here in Nicaragua! You guys, I'm not even joking, if you need work done it is worth the plane ticket. Get at me if you want more details. And honestly, the dentist's office was clean and nice, if not to quite the same level of a Canadian office. But hey man. We're talking $15 versus $150 or more for a cleaning, so I am OK with that.
Owing to the propensity of Catholicism in the country,B each town and city of Nicaragua has a patron saint. And on a designated day each year, each of these towns celebrates their saints with a Tope, which is the name of the celebration. It's a big party and this month I was lucky enough to go and join in onB the Tope of San Marcos. It starts early and carries on all day, with people following the saint relics down the highway. There's dancing, marching bands and music, crazy costumes and tons of men in drag. It's a party. A few of us followed along and joined in a bit, but mostly took the chance to snap photos and have a beer in the street amidst the chaos. Some people get super messy, as you can imagine. But more enjoyably for the rest of us is feeling like you're at a carnival right there on the street. There's cotton candy, Nicaragua's version of a snow cone, drinks and snacks, people with tailgate BBQs, and more. It's unique to Nicaragua and I feel fortunate to have had the experience.
I feel pretty lame about admitting this, but I honestly spent more time watching tv than reading this month. Like, WAYB more. SO MUCH TIME. I had grand plans to read four books from a friend before she left Nicaragua and took them with her, but I didn't get so very far. I did, however, really enjoy the one I managed to read! Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - The friend who recommended this book to me swore it was un-put-down-able and I can see why, though in all honesty, it was not so for me. That could just have been my frame of mind (heat exhaustion and laziness), because it was a really good read. The story follows several generations of a Greek immigrant family through Detroit in the 1900s and that part alone is really interesting. But the story is actually about a young hermaphrodite and his journey through life, raised first as a girl and then around puberty realizing something was amiss. The author handled the subject matterB perfectly in my opinion. It all came together in a way that was interesting, subtle, and beautifully delivered. Recommended reading.
MOVIES AND TV
How I Met Your Mother - I re-watched, ahem, nearly the entire series this month. Ya, that's a lot of TV. But it was a fun way to shut off at the end of the day and I have no regrets, I tell you! You know what I didn't enjoy, though? A lot of the humour is out of date and offensive...but the show's only a couple of years old. It kinda goes to show that when we see things in smaller tidbits, the things we are ingesting may not sink in as much. Watch a few episodes back to back and you will realize that they make A LOTB of fat girl jokes, there's a ton of slut shaming (but only towards women), and I think I saw fiveB persons of colour on the entire show, always in tiny, bit pieces. That's NINE SEASONS without any diversity at all. So that sucked. The one thing I do think the show gets kinda awesome, is showcasing different kinds of relationship neurosis in a lighthearted and still lovable way, and having a super successful relationship at the heart of the show; one that doesn't rely on the fairy-tale trope so much as regular life ups and downsB (Lily and Marshall forever!). But dudes: DIVERSITY. It's a thing. The Little Prince A classic that, admittedly, I have never fully read. I KNOW, right? Who even am I? I started it in English and got about half way through...twice. Then I started it in Spanish and got about a third of the way. Which is ridiculous in both instances because the book can't be more than 150 pages! Anyways, so I watched the movie and it's adorable and dreamy and beautiful and well worth your time. Give it a go! And I will get on reading the book once and for all...
There's a small pub right in my very own neighbourhood that offers craft beer and poutines (or something similar enough, anyways). Win! It's called La Estacion, and while the beer was quite a bit pricier than normal, they also made the best mojito I've had in the country at a very reasonable price. Worth it!
- A friend turned me on to a small hotel with pool near my house called Hotelito Kelly, where they only charge 100 cordobas (less than $4) to use the pool for the day. It's small and nothing special, but it's a fraction of the price of the bigger hotels so I'll take it! I spent one afternoon there with friends when the oppressive heat was getting to be too much.
- Managua is less safe than other parts of the country. I learned this vicariously through other friends who learned this the hard (bad) way. Which is all a roundabout way of telling you that two of my friends were robbed at gunpoint outside of my very house. Well, two doors down. So we all learned that safety is NOT a joke, to leave in groups of three or more whenever possible, to call taxis to the house at night (never walk to flag them), and to leave your valuables at home. I will miss bringing my iPhone out with me, but that's just big city life I guess.
MOST LIKED INSTAGRAM
I finally got on Snapchat! I'm admittedly still working out how and when to use it, but I'm getting there. Find me atB postcardpolkas for too many filters and snippets of daily life in Nicaragua.
Welp, I think that's that. All in all, I'd say I had a pretty good and somewhat full month. I got out and explored my new city as well as some of the neighbouring areas and still found lots of time to relax. Emotionally I will say that the month was more full of ups and downs than the previous month. I fell out of love with Nicaragua HARD for a couple of weeks and then kind of fell back in love again towards the end of the month. Turns out culture shock may decrease in severity but it may never go away completely. Or will it? Somebody tell me, please!
Coming up next month
I've been tracking how many catcalls I get a day and you may not believe it when you see the numbers...