Sunday, December 6, 2015

I Have A Past But I Dont Live There Anymore

I was raised Roman Catholic. I went to Catholic schools and as a child attended church regularly and reluctantly. However, I am not a religious man. I do not believe in the forced religious dogmas that have caused most of the agony and suffering in human history. I am developing a bit more of a spiritual out look the more I discover the world. So spirituality if we have to give it a label, but religious. No, not my thing.

With that out of the way, I did find the greatest vanity license plate ever on the back of a local chicken bus here in Leon. "Yo Jesus". How awesome is it that the chicken bus I am taking to the beach today, on a Sunday no less has Yo Jesus vanity plates Yo Jesus,Take the wheel. Get me to Las Peñitas where the Pacific Ocean, cold beer, cool breezes and warm sunshine awaits.

Here it is. What I can assume is the typical beach shot that everyone has taken. This is not intended to be an "in your face suckers" picture. Not by any means. What I am showing you is what you probably do not expect to see when you think of Nicaragua. The rainy season is now over and it is a beautiful sunny day. Temperature is 33 Celsius, there is not a cloud in the sky and a slight breeze is coming off the ocean. I have a cold Victoria and a book in front of me and its 11:00 am.

I am not much on fiction but I pulled The Black Book by Ian Rankin from the book swap shelf at the hostel. Its a detective mystery and the reviews plastered all over it say the standard things that reviews plastered all over books usually do. "Spellbinding", " A page turner", "Rankin joins the elite of British crime writing". What a load of egotistical crud. Anyways, started plowing through it and it just may be OK.

I think I may have posted a pic like this before during my TEFL graduation beach weekend but alas here it is again. My Sunday home away from home away from home Playa Roca. Decent food, cold beer and a great view of the ocean.

So you see where I spend my Sundays, now the questions is how do I get there? This brings us back to Yo Jesus. There are an number of chicken buses that leave from Sutiava Market, also known as “El Mercandito”, located in the Sutiava neighborhood in the western part of town. (I am looking at new digs in that area this week.) As it was Sunday I grogged out of bed around 830, grabbed my book and filled my pockets with Cordobas and off I went. Anyone who knows me can attest to my love of walking. From my place to Sutiava Market was about 40 minutes. Easy stroll by Canadian standards. A "you are crazy get cab or bus" by Nica standards. The walk was peaceful although everyone is gearing up for La Purísima. This celebration to the Virgin Mary is to be a bit of controlled insanity one night then the next people open their homes to whomever want to enter. There you can view personal alters dedicated to the Virgin Mary and give you food, drink and candy. I am down for that celebration.

Nice Chicken Buses
So back to the bus. I found the chicken bus easy enough and after giggling at the vanity plate and hopped aboard. The bus only leaves when full and we were not even close so it was chill time if its possible to "chill" in a sauna. What is a chicken bus. Well the original chicken buses are in Guatemala but the name carries throughout Central America. They are old and well past their prime American school buses. Some are painted with elaborate schemes, have intense sound systems and are really quite beautiful.

My Chicken Bus
Mine, well not so much. (photos are from google images but are pretty consistent with my day). As for the chicken part, you bet your ass that if you ride them long enough livestock will appear. Hell there is no reason they can not enjoy the ride to the slaughter shed.

We are about 20 minutes into our wait and with each minute the temperature both inside and outside the bus climbs about 1 degree. I am actually getting used to sweating all day long so it's not bothering me to much. Girls and ladies are climbing on and off selling water, pepsi, cookies and I am pretty sure Amway. The seat next to me is vacant as a family of about 8 start boarding. They are not little people and have 2 infants. I am suddenly surrounded on all sides by the happiest group of Nica's. They are laughing as they pass the babies around like bags of tomatoes. The largest lady sits next to me, smiles and I give hear a smile and a hola, buenos dia. BOOM goes the dynamite and the Spanish is flowing. Each member of the family takes turns talking to me in rapid shot Spanish. "Where are you from"? "Do you like Leon"?, Do you like Nicaragua"?, "How old are you"?, "Do you like the heat"?, "Is Canada cold"?. It was friendly and fun and I held my own. The woman next to me was named Virginia and she was taking her family to Poneloya, which is the beach next to Las Penitas. Her and I chatted quite a bit and she told me she could understand my Spanish but "I needed to keep practicing" I took that for the compliment that it was.

 Here are some observations I made on my 45 minute bus ride. Nica's dress nice, even when going to the beach. The men are in slacks and collared shirts with nice shoes. The woman are in slacks or jeans and light blouses. There are no beach bags loaded with stuff. They know that it is hot and cramped and do not like it (as expressed by my new friends) but "complaining does not get us there faster" I was astutely reminded. They are friendly and helpful with each other and the tourists that are on the bus. I just do not get the jeans in the heat. But I am on Nica time and it's their house. I am just visiting.

Now let me tell you about the average tourist on a hot and steamy chicken bus going to the beach.  Wide eyed and entering with a mixture of fear and confusion their overstuffed day packs still slung tightly to their backs. Little wonder they get people pissed when they try and maneuver about the bus and their ignorant packs smashing heads and shoulders along the way. This inability to take them off and carry them confounds me. I use to see it on the busiest of street cars in Toronto as well. If they find a seat they site erect like a tin soldier staring straight ahead like nobody would notice them. If standing, they are holding on for dear life. Virginia pointed this out and giggled, "He must be new". Funny shit. Now as with any bus there are stops along the way. Our foreign tourist leans forward to try and look under, around and through anyone in front of him I guess expecting to see the beach repeating his neck craning at every stop. This of course is a generalization of new and young backpackers testing their mettle. I love that they are out in the world trying. It actually makes me smile not this my blessing is their gold medal standard. Most others I saw were polite, gregarious and casual. This was not their first rodeo to the beach.

First beach stop, Poneloya. The bus starts emptying including my friends who all take the time to say good bye, have a fun day. The two foreigners (funny me calling someone a foreigner) stare at me with "what do we" do glances. I turn and look out the window. When I turn back, the are gone. I giggle knowingly. They got off at the wrong beach. Well they have to learn. I had to along the way.

Well we get to the beach and I get dropped off in front of Playa Roca, grab a cold beer and sit. My journey is done until sunset. A hour or so goes by and I hear a "Hey dude". There is Brenda from my hostel and her boyfriend Matt. A real nice couple from Toronto. They ordered a small bottle of rum, I order a beer and we while away the afternoon with a few others who arrive.  A late arrival is Fran, a local who is an aspiring tour guide. "Keeeen" he says "Teleeeka, Dec 22, you go?

Even A Beach Bar Is Tired Of Wifi
It was a nice afternoon. We ran across the street for burgers and the shop had this sign out front. I think we have all seen it at one time or another. For me it struck a chord that even at the beach on a beautiful day staring into mobile devices is alive and well.

The young owners, who were of cell phone appendage age, gladly explained to me that they get confused by people coming to the beach with their phones. They had wifi when they opened but people would not talk, just state at their phones while they ate lunch together. "So we turned off the Wifi, maybe to make couples happier", Anna said in broken English. Turning off the Wifi hoping to make couples happier. Simple in it's logical beauty.

 To no surprise my young bus pals who got off at Poneloya show up. They sit near us, see me and are perplexed in their observations. The day crawled along slowly and methodically while the sunset was fast and furious. With a full belly and a bit of a wobble it was time to Chicken bus it home. Oh forgot to mention that it cost me 12 Cordobas or C.60 to take the bus to the beach. Standing on the side of the road, waiting and we hear "who needs a ride to Leon". It was Kat Derning who also use to live at our hostel but has since moved out. Get in the back and lets go! She was piling into the back of a small pickup truck and without hesitation (or clear though) we jumped in, 10 of us! We had a 30 minute drive down a busy highway and we were packed into the back of a small pickup that was and in definite need of immediate repair. What could possibly go wrong?

The ride was soul cleansing. Cold air that I have not felt in 2 months cleaning and drying me. A silhouetted view of Telica and the surrounding mountains. Nervous but positive chatter with new short term friends. I had no idea who 6 of them were. Half way home the truck slowed down and pulled over on the side of the dimly lit highway. I casually blurt out. "I guess this is where we all get whacked"...dead silence and saucer eyes stare at me. "Piss break" come a shout from the driver breaking the silence. No long term friendships to develop with this crew that's for sure.

We get to Leon easy enough but the traffic is pretty bad for Leon.  The party of La Purisma is ramping up so there will be fireworks galore and no sleep for the next two night because of the ongoing obsession with fireworks. I am ready for your celebration Virgin Mary....said Ken never.

Thankfully there is Wifi at the beach
I snuck a picture of these two staring into their phones with life happening all around them. Two hours later they had not moved nor looked up.

Judgmental? You bet. Confused?  Quite a bit more.

Rave on John Dunne, Rave on.

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