Monday, September 1, 2008

In Which Our Heroine Sets The Stage A Little Bit

Well, my friends, it seems I spoke entirely too soon. Nicaragua, I had been told, was a country of contrasts, and that turns out to be very much true. I´m not backing away from my earlier conviction that this place is entirely pleasant and that the people are wonderful, but today my general happiness and contentment is mixed with a little frustration.

First, the good stuff. I´ve moved into a wonderful little house on a pretty leafy street in a wealthier neighborhood in Managua. No AC or hot water, but you know, down here it´s ok without it. Perhaps a little hot at times, but for the most part putting on a fan makes it perfectly pleasant, and the cool water showers actually feel really good on account of the humidity. The homes aren´t all closed off like we´re used to. One entire wall of the house is just wide open, with a barred gate you can close or open over it as you will, no screens on the windows, etc. I like it! Also there´s a wonderful dog here named Blackie, and a cute little kitty named... er, Kitty.

The best thing so far is that the food is shockingly good here at the house I´m staying at. No more worries of eating only beans and rice for 4 months. In fact, I kind of wish we´d eat more of it! The señora de la casa is very nice, relaxed, patient, and organized. Her husband on the other hand, a Swiss German, is hands-down THE most impatient human being I´ve ever met. He talks so fast in three different languages intermixed so sometimes i only get 2/3 of his question cause i miss the German parts and while i´m trying to answer his first question he´s talking right over me saying something else or answering his question himself, or asking me another one. it´s occasionally funny, but often becomes outright rude when he interrupts a conversation with somebody else, or talks over somebody who´s talking to me to ask me a question or tell me something. But so rude that it´s funny again, you know? I went with him to a big celebration (Kermesse, which is something I see all over Latin America, but I still have no idea what it is, but boy do they party down for it.) over at the german school here in town and he kept walking right to the front of the line, cutting in front of 20 or 30 Nicas, and speaking extremely brusquely at the attendants until they just caved and let him cut just to get him to go away. Que verguenza! I wanted the earth to swallow me up a few times.

I live also with 2 Spanish girls, very nice, and one Dutch girl who looks a little overwhelmed by the whole experience, but also very cheerful and pleasant. At any rate, it´s nice to be around other girls who are also working here, but have their weekends free to explore.

So the frustrating parts...

1. Mosquitoes. I hate them so much.

2. I´m sitting around today waiting for the internet guy to come to the house to fix the wireless connection that supposedly works just fine. I´ve never seen such an oddity. That part you click to see what network you´re on says I´m connected to this network, the signal strength monitor says the signal is strong, but it won´t open a single web page, saying that it´s because I´m not connected to the internet. I´ve been on the phone with these guys forever and finally convinced them to send somebody out this afternoon. they said sure, at 1:00. Now it is what, 3 or 4. Still waiting!

3. While I stand by my statement about how comparatively cool it is here, especially considering the 100 degree temps in Austin, oh my sweet Jesus, the humidity is an atrocity. My hair - curses on you frothy curls! - is making me look like The Wild Man of Borneo (Lindsey, I feel your pain!!!), and I am considering taking drastic measures. The plus side, however, is that the rain never feels cold which is good, because i still haven´t found a place that sells umbrellas. I will never understand. I mean, for God´s sake, it´s the freaking rainy season.

4. I went to the bank today to see about opening a checking account. This is something multiple people have assured me should be no problem, and even while talking to the woman at the bank this morning she started reading off the requirements to me and then I asked a question that she didn´t know how to answer (BAD MOVE DOWN HERE), so off she trotted to chat with the manager. Back she trotted to tell me that they´d abruptly changed course, and I could not open a bank account. Shocker. I know enough at this point to realize that this doesn´t mean I can´t open one, it just means I´m going to have to inconvenience several wealthy Nicaraguan men to take time out of their day to come down and vouch for me. Arrrrrgh. Is it worth it to avoid the ATM and credit card fees?

5. Note to self: next time remember to pack yoga mat, long pajama bottoms, sarong as mosquito cover for legs. Leave the blow dryer. What was I thinking.


Evan Ross said...

Cheasty- I so hate mosquitos I can't begin to tell you. Thing is, mosquitos love me. Once in a jam way north Canada I happily sprayed my entire body with Raid, just to be free of the bitches for a time. It worked. I turned out ok. I think. Just a thought. Rainer is the man of the house here, Brazilian-German, and I feel your pain again. At least your not Jewish like me and therefore don't have to take on that whole other heap of trash. (That must make you feel good, right?)

Cheasty said...

Raid, Evan? Sweet Jesus, those must have been some bad mosquitoes! Sorry about Rainer, man. I don't even know what to say.

moxita said...

dear cheastilicious!

i am glad that you love the food!!

what are the drastic measures you're proposing for your hair????

i am sorry about the rude german / swiss fellow. hope he is on vacation when i get there ;)

want me to bring an umbrella and a yoga mat?


Jen said...

What bank do you have back home? You should see if they're teamed up with any of the banks in the area. Here in BsAs, Bank of America is buddies with BNP Paribas and Santander. That means I pay the currency conversion fee ($1-2), but not the non-BoA ATM fee ($6). It isn't perfect, but it's easy enough.

Anonymous said...

You're right, some of it sounds fun and some of it sounds awful. I have a friend like your Swiss-German, and she routinely makes waitresses cry. It's mortifying.

Re: hair. You can always buy a red squeaky nose and go cheer up sick kids. That's what I do in Florida since my head looks like a Little Orphan Annie wig sneezed really hard.

Judy said...

Does the market have umbrellas? If not, I think you could make one by peeling a bunch of plantains and using twine to stitch them together... = )

Perhaps you know a better way to make an umbrella.

Cheasty said...

Wow, what a plethora of suggestions and helpful tips! I'm overwhelmed... let's see...

drastic measures = shaving head. never done it before. probably won't do it now. but i'm tempted.

umbrella: mission accomplished. it's shitty, but it'll work better than nothing. although i am tempted by judy's plantain-skin idea...

bank account: when I called the B of America in TX the guy there said that Nicaragua didn't have any ATMs. Wow. I took this to mean that BofA had no business relationship with any banks down here. That has proven to be true. But I withdrew money yesterday and it turns out nobody charged me anything on either end! I'm only going to use that ATM for the duration of my stay here.

yoga mat: can you fit it, moxita? tat would totally rock, but it's probably not worth it for the short time i'll be here after you arrive. i'll keep you posted, though.