10:56 AM 6/23/2013 - I arrived in Managua ... two nights ago (?).
On my last Belize City morning, I ate like a king, found a US$2 haircut (buzz cut w/#3 clippers. Hard to justify charging/spending too much money) .
Caught my 11am airport shuttle to Philip Goldson (I'm sure he matters, but have NO idea who he is/was) International Airport, where I had about 6hrs to ... do nothing -- on the short list of what I do best.
Beers with the couple from N'Oleans ? Heck, no. They were hammered. I was out of my league. A Snickers bar, on the other hand, was just my speed !
I just hung around.
Flew to San Salvador, El Salvador, where ... our flight was delayed by HOURS due to torrential downpours.
Boarded. Things went well. Arrived Managua, Nicaragua a few hours late. Our driver for La Mariposa School was there, enthusiastic, and only slightly miffed to have waited an extra two hours.
But he drove like a brave, stereotypical, Latin American madman, and dumped me off at something like midnight. I crawled under my mosquito netting, gobbled a couple of Benadryl, and conked out.
Awoke early, got coffee, got breakfast, and was summoned to class. First = conversation; second = grammar. Monday through Friday. Mornings. That's the drill.
Edwin was my conversation teacher, and -- not surprisingly -- we yakked for a couple of hours.
Break. Switch over. Jenni taught grammar, and rode me hard :-)
I THINK I'm not advanced as they think I am, but it's all one-on-one, so I can put the brakes on, if/when/as needed.
What IS the "Subjunctive Case," anyway, and ... why would/should I care ??
Four hours of class. Head spinning. Take a break. Eat. Eating's a big thing, here. Works for me.
The afternoons are 'punctuated' with scheduled activities. At 1pm, I listened to Danillo give a talk about current events -- the helicopter crash that left eight army colonels and a couple of civilians dead; the Social Security debate/debacle; cultural traditions that affect the SS debate.
He's an older man, and doesn't speak particularly clearly, so Sage -- an intern from Vail, Colorado -- helped translate. I like her, but she's really good in Spanish, so ... I force myself to resent her, simultaneously ;-)
The next activity was a trip to Emma's Bar/Restaurant, from 5p to 7p. I drank more than my fair share of ... whatever the local hooch is called. I also ate an order of carne asada, which made me re-think the vegetarian thing -- it was that bad.
Power tools would have helped with the cutting. THIS ... is primarily why I stopped eating meat. It fights back, in the worst case ;-)
Got home at about 8:30pm, tired. Showered up, was wearing a towel and brushing my teeth when the driver knocked on my door.
Uh ... I already ate dinner ... at the bar.
Yeah ... dinner.
No. Remember ? I arranged it with the kitchen that they did NOT have to make me dinner, because I was GOING TO eat at the bar.
Uh-huh. Dinner. Come on.
I followed him. What can I do. He's bigger than me. I ate again. Took one for the team.
What a guy !
Woke the next morning, and had to prepare for a hike, up the Mombacho Volcano. An hour drive to hike in the just sweltering humidity. It was actually a fair hike up a fair pitch ... in sweltering humidity :-)
At the top, it was too cloudy to see _anything_ -- not the incredible (?) view of the lake and the islets; not the hike to the two big craters; not the fumarole (steaming vent hole).
But lunch was good ;-)
The walk back down was a bit treacherous. The clouds had caused a fair bit of condensation on the otherwise just-about-slick stone road surface. Just a bit of skiing involved.
It was about 2-1/2hrs, each way, so ... a legit hike. I forget the altitude gain. Not intense, but really formidable pitches for the last 2/3rds of the ascent. 4WD LO territory, on "pavement."
A coffee plantation/cafe/gift shop about a third of the way up. THINK is was called Cafe los Flores, but ... if anybody's really interested ... it's in Mombacho, Nicaragua, and it was intensely good !
Got our ride back to La Mariposa, ate another wonderful dinner, yakked a while, and headed for bed, mosquito netting tucked up securely around the mattress and frame.
This morning, I caught a bus to San Marcos -- a larger (every town is larger than the one where La Mariposa sits !) town, about 20 minutes away. Bought laundry detergent, and got money from the ATM. Have to start chipping away at my bill.
Caught the bus back, after walking around San Marcos for an hour. There's some kind of moving fair going from town to town, where they carry some sort of statue TO each town, march, have parades, have bands playing, and light off _tons_ of _extremely_ loud fireworks.
Annnnnnd, it carries on through the night !
I'm going to veg for a bit. WiFi is challenging, here. We're off the grid, so it's only by solar power, only for certain daytime hours, and only accessible from a common area very near the office.
I'll have to copy-and-paste e-mails to respond, and do the blog thing via text files, e-mailing those TO the blog for updates. The common area is also exposed when the wind drives the rain, and ... is pretty well in the sun when the weather is good. Nobody else seems to be having trouble with this, but ... I am ;-)
Good people staying/studying, here. A FEW teachers, on summer break. Mostly college students, either studying just to learn Spanish, or -- in many cases -- preparing to do some sort of NGO work, in Latin America. I'm a bit envious of both. My story -- which they DO ask -- doesn't line up with either group. I'm just ... me :-)
Lila and Mary Margaret are from the DC area. William and Christine teach in New Hope, PA. Mike teaches in the Chicago area, but has lived in Michigan (the UP), Arizona, California, Colorado, New York, and Florida. We SHOULD know each other :-)
Ruth is an intern from Holland (Netherlands). She thinks it's cute that I can say, and pronounce well, the Dutch word for "gynecologist."
Yuki is an intern from Japan.
No pictures, yet. Nothing of particular photographic note.
The room is clean and comfortable. Not too hot, but over 90% humidity. A fan keeps the air moving, and CAN be used -- so they tell me -- in the night. Even with this, my nylon shirts are /barely/ dry, come morning. Unique !
And the mosquitos are fierce. Using DEET more than once a day, and have taken to spraying my shirt with it. Mosquitos in Nicaragua, as it turns out, love me, too ;-)
Back to school, tomorrow, where -- hopefully -- I won't feel at all despondent about my Spanish. I trust that, when they have me in an advanced class, that I actually DO speak and understand better than I think I do, but have impressed upon them that I have great difficulty understanding TV shows, and engaging in serious dialogue with locals.
But I have five weeks to work on that ... here ... in Los Clases de Espanol ... al Instituto de la Mariposa ... in ... The Gulag.