The Rundown - May 2016
I never made it out of Nicaragua but I feel like I saw and did SO much new stuff!
Rainy season is here! Not only does this mean that the daily average temperature in Managua has dropped from 40+ degrees celsius to about 30-35 degrees (so much more manageable and I'm not even joking) but that the streets and countryside are in full bloom. I first arrived to Nicaragua at the tail end of rainy season and I remember telling everyone I met that I didn't know there were so many different colours of green. Plus, everywhere you turn there are flowers in bright yellow, bold orange, and neon pinks and purples. It's a tropical paradise hard to match. Rainy season in Nicaragua is the BOMB.
Managua's annual Carnival! A few of us went and I, naturally, took the opportunity to go a little crazy. Turns out, very few of the non-participating Nicaraguans dress up at all and I was one of the only ones (aside from some adorable small children). Oh well! I had a great time with the theme and spent a solid 40 minutes doing crazy makeup. Schools, groups, and even neighbourhoods from across the country came out to B participate. They had marching bands, dancing troupes, and elaborate costumes. It was awesome. Visually, it was just a really stunning evening. Unfortunately my camera wasn't really up to the challenge of great after-dark photos, so I took a bunch of short videos instead. You'll get a better sense of the event with video anyways! I spliced them together for this quick visual: [embed]https://youtu.be/J3ZQgwUpqxE[/embed]
I spent an awesome weekend on the Isla de Ometepe, which I already wrote a full post about so you'll have to read it there! But to reiterate, I climbed a freaking volcano (!) and had a great time with friends.
I watchedB lava bubble and boil inside of the active Masaya volcano, while hanging on the side of same volcano and taking selfies. Because life is amazing that way. And seriously, in what other place in the world would you be allowed that close to an open crater, no less one that is currently broiling with middle-of-the-earth-hot lava?! Nowhere but Nicaragua, baby, and that's why I love it so. Full disclosure: there is a waist high stone wall along the edge to subtly suggest you don't cross that point unless your aim is to fall to an untimely and very hot death. Nicas are big on letting you do you, though, so it's still short enough to stand/sit on and see over!
What with all that seismic activity happening, itB4s no surprise that we got a few serious tremors in the south part of the country. They were 4.4 at their epicentre, about an hour or so from Managua and we definitely felt them here. It not-so-subtly reminded me to get my emergency bag in order and it is now ready and sitting in an easy to grab place. Honestly, itB4s kind of a good idea to have one wherever you live! Right? Or am I just getting old and nervous?
I took a friend up to see Jinotega and used the opportunity to catch up with my foreigner friends and my friends from the countryside. It was fantastic to get a break in terms of climate and scenery, as well as just be around people that make me feel like I have family. An hour of hugs and kisses from these two fills up my heart for a good long while <3 We passed around apples and were gifted some coffee to take back with us, along with many hugs and kisses and general love. Plus it was fun hanging and having loads of girl talk and getting to "show off" how I spent my first year in Nicaragua!
It was the Dia de la Madre (Mother's Day) here in Nicaragua on Monday and we got the afternoon off work to visit our mamas, so I took a quick bus to San Marcos to visit my Nicaraguan mamas and the rest of the family. I feel so lucky to have been brought into such a warm and loving family and that they always include me, but beyond that to have some expectations for my presence on important days, as they do the other kids. It is expectation, after all, that lets us know we have familyB ;-) We had dinner together and the youngest kids even performed a dance and some poetry!
I tallied the number of times I got catcalled in a month and itB4s...a lot. Guesses...?
*drum roll please*
Yes, that is how many times I got catcalled in a one month period. I included only verbal assaults - things that reached my ears and came from another's mouth. Nothing visual, made by a vehicle, or with the potential to be misunderstood, was included. To really illuminate things for you, I'd like to clarify that:
- It did not include long, awkward stares from men in the streets
- It did not include the continued harassing emails from the man that prompted this post
- It did not include inappropriate conversations or questions from taxi drivers
- It did not include being asked to dance or anything else I register as normal "flirting" behaviour
- It counted a group of men catcalling me at once as only one instance of catcalling and not several
- It did not count men waving at me from vehicles or honking to get my attention
- It did not include the old men who say "adios, mama" because I think truly (or hope with all my heart) that they are just being kind and sweet old men
- It did not include anytime that I was mostly sure it was happening but couldn't make out the words and therefore could not beB certain of the context
If you were to take into account all of these items that number would have easily tripled. As it stands, it averages out to 6.5 times a day. On the worst day, I received 15 verbal calls and on the best days (of which there were two), I received none. Two days in one month where I was not harassed in the street. And I took note of these days and you know what happened those days? I left the house only to walk the dog and broughtB the boy along on the walks. Are you surprised? How do you think you would handle that much verbal attention being thrown at you all of the time? I must say, it's been one of the biggest changes I've had moving from Jinotega to Managua and it's certainly my least favourite!
I finally got a transit pass, or as they're known around these parts, a TUC! Now I'm not only riding the rutas like a local, but I'm riding them for 2.5 cordobas a ride (that's 9 US cents).
It should be noted for fellow foreigners that if you don't have a residency card they may be dis-inclined to give you one. However, if you have a Nicaraguan friend who has one they are allowed to get a secondary card in your name and you can recharge it and use it completely independent of them. At least there's always a workaround!B
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz - This is the second book I've read of his and I enjoyed it equally, if not more than the other (This is How You Lose Her). Diaz writes about his home country of the Dominican Republic and the complicated status of being a US immigrant in both books, however Oscar Wao was more heavily based in the Dominican than the other and held a ton of history about the country - a history I knew nothing of before reading this book but which served, interlaced seamlessly with the story, to make me interested in knowing much more. The story is ultimately about lust, love, and the things we do in the name of chasing our dreams, or on a slightly more cynical note, the things we do in the name of chasing who we want to be despite who we already are. He writes in a fluid, almost casual way, without concern for polite words or pure thoughts, making his characters wholly real and if not relate-able (depending on who you are, of course), at least very raw and complex and whole. Born to RunB by Christopher McDougall - Read this book immediately. Not only is it extremely well written and interesting, but it'sB so informative. Really. I loved it. It manages to be a great story, incredibly enlightening about the human body and evolution, inspiring, and a history lesson, all at the same time. HereB are a fewB of my favourite quotes: "Putting your feet in shoes in similar to putting them in a plaster cast...Feet live for a fight and thrive under pressure." "...the more Scott researched traditional endurance athletes, the more vegetarians he found...By basing his diet on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, Scott is deriving maximum nutrition from the lowest possible number of calories, so his body isn't forced to carry or process any useless bulk. And because carbohydrates clear the stomach faster than protein, it's easier to jam a lot of workout time into his day, since he doesn't have to sit around waiting for a meatball sub to settle." "There's something really weird about us humans; we're not only really good at endurance running, we're really good at it for a remarkably long time. We're a machine built to run - and the machine never wears out." "Women have really been underrated...They've been evolutionarily shortchanged. We perpetuate this notion that they were sitting around waiting for the men to come back with food, but there's no reason why women couldn't be part of the hunting party." And that's just for a start. Add all those juicy studies and bits of information entwined with a story of a hidden tribe of a running Indigenous group (we're talking 60+ miles at a time) in Mexico and you have all you need for a great read.
AROUND THE INTERWEBS
I spend a TON of time on the internet, but I'm trying to get away from sharing every link I find interesting. Instead, I might add them here! As someone who has struggled with this from a very young age, this article was absolutely great. Well written, great angle, and actually helpful for the target audience. Depression Busting Exercise Tips for People Too Depressed to Exercise. And while we're on the topic, I have a huge crush on Kristen Bell for speaking up and speaking out about her own struggles with depression, and the way in which she is doing it. It's also time to open up a much bigger conversation about unlikeable women, gender norms, and fighting (or at least acknowledging) our gut reactions when responding to female characters across all forms of media. Read this article titled In Defense of Unlikable Women for a start. Now after all that heavy reading, I highly suggest you indulge in Ross Geller laying down sick rap lyrics and then both him and Corden getting obliterated by Rebel Wilson. Throwing shade via rap lyrics is my favourite kind of shade to throw.
MOST LIKED INSTAGRAM
Turns out I was in a bit less of a writing mood this month. Well that, and I was busy running around doing exciting things! Most read: TBT: 10 Things to Love About Venice (Just Try to Resist Its' Charms) The other: Ometepe Island: Third Time's the Charm!
BAD NEWS BEAR
Sadly this week I found out that my puggy has an ulcer in one eye and is nearly blind in the other. I knew this was a risk (the blindness) at some point but thought we'd have more time. Also upsetting is that the vet supposes there is a technology that exists in Canada (and elsewhere) but that doesn't exist in Central America that could alleviate some of the problem and potentially give her more years of sight. Alas, going to Canada and getting her an expensive procedure are not an option right now. I hope that will still be an option when it's time to go home for however long we do. In the meantime, they opted to sew closed the eye with the ulcer so that it has a proper chance to heal. Managua is very dusty and any and all dirt and pollen can negatively affect the healing process, I am told. I am desperately hoping this (very expensive, well respected, and foreign-trained) vet knows what he's talking about, since the two we went to before this about Daisy's eye just told us there was no real problem. I KNOW. Health care is a bad scene in Nicaragua for everyone. In the meantime, she is nearly blind, sad as all get out, and wandering around in a cone. I am so fortunate to have a job that's allowing me the week to work at home and care for her, something I do not take lightly. Here's hoping that when we go back in a few days to remove the stitches and open her eyes, the ulcer has had a chance to heal. Thanks for the love and encouragement during this stressful time. Coming next month...it's my birthday! And I'm spending the entire month of June speaking, reading, listening, and watching everything in Spanish.B The only exceptions to my Spanish-only month will be speaking to people back home and writing this here blog. Wish me luck! And fluency :)