Oh, my God, will it please please PLEASE stop raining? Please? It's raining so hard today that I haven't even tried to leave the house yet. Instead, I've finished my article for the U.S. Catholic Historian (look for it this winter at a really obscure specialty bookseller near you!) and sent it off to the editor. I uploaded, organized, and edited about 150 pictures I've taken of public health education pamphlets, which are really awesome, and frequently hilarious. You want to see the best illustration I've seen so far?
This is from a pamphlet on workplace health and safety, and this is an illustration of what can happen to a pregnant woman who works around exposed toxic chemicals. While I in no way minimize the dangers involved, this drawing is pretty funny (click to enlarge, as the expression on the doctor's face is truly priceless):
Aside from all this work, which I truly do enjoy, I've spent many minutes staring out the open door at the rain, feeling homesick. I don't often feel this way, as between skype and the marvels of the internet, I feel pretty connected. But today I wish I were home. I'm grumpy. I want my own bed, and my grocery store, and my car, and my friends, and my sister, and my swimming pool, and a bottle of good wine, and my clothes. There are decided advantages to traveling light, but right now I feel like if I have to put on that stupid dress or that goddamn skirt or that freaking tshirt one more time I'm going to scream. And no, I'm not going shopping here. I hate clothes shopping. I only go shopping with my brother The Fairy King, or my sisters Umulu and Crasey cause they know what I should buy, and even then I say no 50 percent of the time. Oh, cripes, I'm such a whiner. Like my life sucks or something? Get over it, Cheastypants.
I think I feel kind of blue right now because I had such a weird weekend. Alta and I went off to San Juan del Sur, which is supposed to be this cool little beach town on the Pacific Coast. It's a bit of a long drive, which I knew heading out, but I failed to consider that 3 or 4 hours in car is not the same thing at all as 3 or 4 hours on a public bus on bad roads in Nicaragua, as public buses in Nicaragua are old American school buses with bad shocks and a tenuous grasp on the concept of automotive integrity. Nonetheless, I was optimistic as we set out in the sunshine from Managua. We drove promptly into a rainstorm of somewhat epic proportions, and it continued to scatter showers for the rest of the weekend. Again, I shouldn't bitch. Saturday was really fun, in spite of the inclement weather. We got a nice room with a private bath and a covered balcony at a small hotel for only $10 a night, and met two guys from Norway who were an absolute blast to hang out with. We walked along the beach, ate good food, and drank what in retrospect was probably inappropriately copious amounts of rum until the wee hours of the morning. God, those guys were fun, and holy shit were we drunk. I'm fairly certain that we watched part of the Cubs/Dodgers game, where I dutifully rooted for the Cubs, one of my professor's favorite teams. I'm also vaguely aware of doing a really bad job of explaining why baseball was a sport to a bar full of European tourists determined to prove me wrong. I may have erred when I listed as one of it's finer features the fact that you can eat a hotdog and play outfield at the same time. The Norwegians promptly began impersonating obnoxious LA Dogders fans, a task they performed with admirable skill, even to the point of throwing rum and coke in each others' faces, high-fiving each other with alarming frequency, screaming "GO DODGERS!!!!" very very loudly, and, at one point, coming very close to starting a bar brawl over an incident in which a crushed plastic cup was thrown, for no apparent reason, at a guy about to sink the 8 ball at a near-by pool game. Luckily, it all ended up with high-fives, manly hugs, and cries of "Go, Dodgers!" Normally, I would be horrified by such behavior, but for some reason all I could do was laugh hysterically like this was the funniest shit I had ever seen. And you know what? It kind of was. I'm not proud, but it was fun.
The weird part of the weekend was the next day, when I woke up at 5am (that would be three hours of sleep, thank you very much) having been savaged in the night by steroidal mosquitos and various other carnivorous insects. We went and got breakfast, nursed our hangovers for a little while, tried not to scratch our multitude of itchy bites and then decided that damn it, rainy day or not, we were going to swim in the ocean. Only I think with all the rain lately, that water, which is in a small bay, must have been pretty contaminated because I had a full-body rash within 5 minutes of getting in the water. I've always had sensitive skin, which usually I view as something of a curse, but at times like that, I'm kind of glad for it. I view it as an early warning sign that if I don't avoid whatever it is that is giving me the rash (in this case I'm certain it was bubonic plague), I might end up in front of a doctor who looks like the one in that illustration I just showed you. So yes, my sensitive skin is a blessing. I mean, aside from the early warning of potentially harmful substances, is there anything more attractive in this world than a girl in a bikini with a violent outbreak of red hives all over her body? I think not. I, my friends, am a mankiller. They flock to my side from miles around, unable to resist the allure of my rash-covered beauty.
So, in sum, weird. Of all the places I've been to in Nicaragua, the "hip beach town" was my least favorite, crawling with tourists and ex-pat American middle-aged men with 17 year old Nicaraguan girlfriends. The people there aren't terribly friendly (and who can blame them, with all the tourists), the bus ride home was long long LONG, over terrible roads, I felt like I'd just laid down in a pile of fire ants and let them bite me all over. By the time I got home all I wanted in this whole wide world was a cool dry sunny autumn day, a bathtub full of lovely warm water, and a big soft bed with crisp white sheets. And Benadryl, which luckily, I have in my little med kit, which I'd conveniently left at home. Every other trip I've taken here, I've felt a little regretful to be back in Managua, but yesterday, for once, I felt a little relieved.