Friday, November 28, 2008

The Continued Adventures of Umulu and Cheastypants

Editors note: The following series of updates from Nicaragua were co-authored by Amazing Cheastypants and her beloved sister Umulu. The story of our week-long vacation will be serialized over the next few days, but here is the first installation, written a few days ago. First, a little background...

Travel Divas Strike Again

For those of you new to this travelogue series, Travel Divas began back in 2003 when Umulu and Cheasty, sisters and friends, took off for the wilds of South America with only a leaky tent, a sense of adventure, their backpacks, and, who are we kidding, several carry-on bags for company. Adventures, discoveries, near-death experiences, and handsome Australian fire-fighters ensued. We would expect no less of Travel Divas.

“But what is a Travel Diva?” we hear you ask. Why that’s an excellent question! Let’s see. Ideally, Travel Divas are laid-back, open-minded, economical, compassionate, and above all, competent travelers. For example, a Travel Diva would never leave her map on the plane (Cheasty). She would never fail to bring water on a bike trip in a desert so dry the houses do not have roofs (Umulu). And she would NEVER trust a travel agent with a walrus moustache, no matter how paternal and trustworthy he appears. (Damn you, Mr. Danannaman!) On the other hand, Travel Divas would take off on bikes with a hand-drawn map instead of signing up for the 15-person guided tour of the salt flats. She would carry her sister’s backpack out of the wilderness when that sister is injured, or lend an encouraging hand when her sister is afraid of heights. She knows when it’s worth it to chuck the Ramen noodles and order a steak and a fine Cabernet, and she knows how to smile gamely and keep chewing when whatever it is you’ve got to eat isn’t really what you’d like to eat. To be a Travel Diva, in other words, is to seize the moment, to maximize the opportunity, all while preserving life and limb for future forays into The Great Unknown.
As independent travelers, neither one of us really lives up to the dream that is Travel Divascocity. Cheasty’s a little too cheap and a little too laissez-faire, while Umulu routinely makes a bee-line for the nearest walrus moustache or Four Seasons Hotel, whichever is closest. Together, however, we are greater than the sum of our parts. As a team, we are Travel Divas, and oh, the adventures we’ve had together.

Which explains how now, in 2008, Emily found herself boarding a plane for Nicaragua, a country that appeared to be on the brink of civil war, with four bikinis, ten romance novels, five U.S. dollars in cash, and a tiny bottle of hand sanitizer. The plan was for Cheasty to pick up Ums at the Managua airport at 9pm sharp, but having learned from The Terrifying Incident of Lost in the Desert, not to mention The Astonishingly Frightful Episode of Where is My Scuba Diving Buddy, we had a five-fold contingency plan that involved both the U.S. Embassy, the world-famous Intercontinental Hotel, and 25 different phone numbers. Astonishingly, the one time we were actually prepared for disaster, it turned out to be completely unnecessary, and the next morning we set off for what turned out to be the relative comfort of a slightly sketchy Nicaraguan beach resort.

Turn in tomorrow to see what happens as our Travel Divas take on Nicaragua...

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