Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Nobel Prize in Making Me Feel Like A Princess

Dear Jim and Doc,

I am just a random grad student and blogger, and have very little clout in this world. Nobody knows my name, and even those who know it rarely manage to pronounce it properly. I have no money, no assets, no fame, and no political power, and I tell you what: that is a crying shame. Because you know what I'd do if I had any of that money and power and fame? I'd give you both a Nobel Prize. Not for peace, not for amazing and important scientific contributions to the world, not for any of those things that people with money and fame and power routinely award people prizes for. No, instead I'd award you a Nobel Prize for Making Me Feel Like a Princess. I'd arrange an award ceremony in which Salma Hayek, Sophia Loren, and Marilyn Monroe all magically appear in the prime of their youth and voluptuous bounty to hand you each a golden statue of indeterminate design. Photographers would take your picture and crowds would ooh and ahh, everyone wishing they were your friend too, so they could just stand near you and absorb some of the hallucinogenic glow of your dazzling personalities. And when reporters asked you just exactly what you had done do deserve such glory, such acclaim, such fanfare, you would simply smile modestly and tell a story that goes like this.

"Well," you'd begin, "there's this girl named Cheasty." Reporters would scribble madly in their notebooks, and ask each other how to spell Cheasty. "Somehow during our time in Nicaragua, the three of us became good buddies, you see, and when we realized that Cheasty was about to leave us, we decided to throw her a little special shindig, a last hurrah to send her off properly."

At that point the reporters would be distracted because a door would suddenly gust open, almost by magic, as if invisible fairies had swung them wide. The air would begin to shimmer and sparkle, and a collective gasp would arise from the gathered throng as none other than I, the dazzling and gorgeous diamond-studded Amazing Cheastypants, waltzed into the room, followed closely by my acres and acres of shiny beautiful bouncy hair. "Oh, Amazing Cheastypants!" my adoring public would clamor. "Tell us the story in your own words. How did Doc and Jim make you feel like a princess?" I would laugh, an intoxicating sound, by all accounts, and fill them in on what was one of the most wonderful days of my life.

"Well," I began in a breathy and sexy voice, "it was simply marvelous. And the best part was that I had no idea it was coming! I'd phoned Doc and Jim to let them know I was coming to León, and I'd made plans to stay at La Perla, my favorite hotel in the whole wide world, and I'd mentioned that it might be fun to go to the beach, but whatever, maybe just we could have dinner together before I left Nicaragua forever? Well, they went so far beyond themselves that I am still practically speechless. First of all, when I arrived at the hotel there was an enormous bouquet of flowers waiting for me with a sweet note from Jim and Doc, telling me how much they'd miss me. The first flowers any man, or in this case men, have ever given me, if you can believe that. And when I checked in to my hotel room I found that Jim had booked me not just in any old little room, but in the Presidential Suite with private balcony! Gasps, shivers, oh how wonderful it was! I could go into poetic turns about how lovely, how elegant, how completely delicious this room is, but that's boring to read. Treat yourself to a weekend at the Perla and go check it out yourself.

"So I'm not really sure that words can capture the wonderfulness of the rest of that day, honestly," I'd say to the assembled paparazzi, while you two guys stood modestly by. "It wasn't just what they arranged for us to do, but the special touches they put on everything. We went to the beach, but not just to the beach, to the private beach house of a friend of Jim's, with a swimming pool and sea kayaks, and the most comfortable and amazing lounging chairs in the history of the universe. Doc and I braved the wild blue Pacific surf to paddle out on the ocean in the kayaks and spent lovely hours under the sun, riding the swell, dangling our feet in the water, and surfing the waves on our way back in. We had roasted chicken and rum and coke, and swam in the pool and played a hotly contested game of Trivial Pursuit, which I was lucky enough to win due to the sheer accident of having read an article the week before about knife making. What's the common name for a ferrous alloy with a minimum of 10% chromium content by mass? Stainless steel, thank you very much. Hooray! We laughed, we cried, it was better than Cats. And as the sun started to set we packed stuff up and headed back to town, where I soaked in a hot bath (ooooooh, shivers of delight), napped like a pasha, and generally wallowed in the voluminous folds of my super-awesome complimentary terrycloth bathrobe in the air conditioning. There was room service dinner on my private balcony, good conversation, and the generally warm feeling of being among people who care for you and will miss you when you're gone. In short, I felt like a princess."

And then the paparazzi, sated with news and pushed to make their deadlines, would disperse into the night and the three of us would be standing there, and I'd give you both the biggest hug a girl can give, and I'd say, "Thank you, Jim. Thank you, Doc. You gave me a day to remember, a day that for the rest of my life will make me feel special and cared for and loved, and I'll never forget it. You are princes among men, and even as I sit here in the States in a cool and climate controlled room with a glass of lovely red wine at my side, I am nostalgic for the good times we had. I will miss you so much, and anxiously await the day when our paths cross again."

Be well and stay safe, my friends. You are ever in my thoughts.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Brief Update

I'm home, extremely exhausted, and I'm going on a camping trip tomorrow. I'll write more when i get back next week. Lots to talk about. Too much, really, which makes it hard to decide on a topic. I'll talk to you all soon.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

I'm Meeellllllttttiiiiinnnnnggggg...

Oh sweet lord, it's so hot you could fry an egg on my forehead. In fact, you could fry an egg on my forehead while I'm standing up, that's how hot it is, cause if you threw a handful of raw egg at my face it would just sort of flash-cook and stick to the surface, like, POW! Cooked egg. I spent most of yesterday in a small room with a tin roof and limited ventilation. By the time it was over I'd sweated so much that I think I lost 50% of my body weight and, oh, more or less 90% of my soul in water weight. Thankfully, once the sun set, a light breeze picked up, and I spent the rest of the evening under the mango tree in a rocking chair, dodging falling fruit, fanning myself madly with a newspaper, and trying to rehydrate.

I know once I'm back in the States I'll probably bitch about how people over air condition buildings and gah, I shouldn't have to bring a sweater to work in the summer, but right now I'd kill for a little air conditioning. As it is, I'm practically glued to the fan in my room. If I get any closer I'll risk losing fingers, or worse, my whole face.

Other than the heat, which I know I'll get used to, life is good. I found some great information in the archive I worked in yesterday, and guess what, I have one more, count it, ONE MORE interview to do this afternoon, and then wa-la! I'll be done with my work in Nicaragua, having accumulated thousands of pages of documents and 76 interviews. Whew! I'm heading out to Leon tomorrow to pick up some stuff I left there, mail a painting I bought for my mom, and to stay at my favorite hotel for one night of pampering and bliss. Ooh, AC, hot water, and a bathtub!! Cable TV and rum and coke! Ooh la la! I'm looking forward to a nice dinner with Jim and the Doc, and then it'll be back here, throw some stuff in my suitcase, and head out to el aeropuerto to catch the 1 a.m. flight back to the Yooosa.

I'll post an update Tuesday or Wednesday, but until then, hasta luego. Smoochies!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Things I Will Miss About Nicaragua

In my ever-growing frenzy of anticipation for getting home and being done with this siberian death-march of a research trip, I feel that I might be doing a disservice to the very wonderful country that has been my home court since last August. So while the next few days might be dominated with thoughts of RED WINE!! HOT SHOWERS!!! WASHING MACHINE!! DRYER!! CAR!!!!! MY OWN HOME!!!!! FAMILY!!! FRIENDS!!!!! MY BIKE!!!, I would like to pause for a moment to talk about the things I will miss in Nicaragua. Well, to be more specific, the things I will miss in Matagalpa, for, having arrived here yesterday, I find my distaste for Managua unchanged, though I do like the family I stay with here, and having wireless internet at home. But that doesn't make me love the city any more, especially when the headlines of yesterday's paper read: "Violent crime in Managua up 47% in 2008." Sheesh. Glad I was here to witness most of that historic year.

The rest of Nicaragua, however, really is something special, so today I'm writing about the things I will remember fondly when I'm back home and settled in in Texas.

1. The number one thing I'll miss, without a doubt, will be the fruit and vegetable vendors. In most towns in Nicaragua the fruit sellers set up on street corners, where they hawk tables full of oranges, papaya, watermelon, mango, jocote, cantaloupe, and bananas. The vegetable vendors, on the other hand, walk the streets with little wooden push wagons, pausing every few meters to sing out the produce they've got on hand. Potatoes, tomatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, peppers! And oh my goodness it's all so fresh and delicious and CHEAP! I made a huge vegetable curry the other day. I filled a big bag full of veggies, and I mean it was FULL, and the whole kit and caboodle cost me $2.50. Genius!

2. Baseball. Well I've already told you how much I love the baseball games here, but since that recent post I've gone again, this time to a Matagalpa v. Rivas game. This was big time, Nicaragua's version of the major leagues, and while I didn't think it was possible, this game was even more entertaining. You want to know why? It was awesome: the Rivas team brought brujos (witches) with them! The Rivas region has some towns that are pretty famous for brujería, so I guess for good luck, some of them travel with the team. There were about three or four of them, and they walked around the stadium waving mango leaves, rattling shells, chanting incantations and whoa, Nelly, did the Matagalpinos get steaming mad! "Hey, egg-sucker," one of them screamed, "aquí nos cortamos café, no mangos!", which literally means, "here we harvest coffee, not mangoes," which only makes sense in light of the fact that the Matagalpan region is an economic powerhouse (coffee) while Rivas is traditionally much poorer. Thus, "cutting mangos" was code for "we've got money, and you don't." Well the crowd picked that up, chanting it, and needless to say, there were fights. Altogether, it was one of the more entertaining games I've ever seen.

3. I'll miss the way people sit around in their doorways, just checking out the action. It's a small city, everybody knows everybody else, and in the evening folks just hang out. I love it, especially in contrast to the way we all live in our closed-up little boxes in the States. I mean for God's sake, I lived in Austin for 3 years in two different houses, and in neither case did I even know my next-door neighbors' names. In two months in Matagalpa I knew not just their names, but also their life histories, medical maladies, and the whereabouts of all their children.

4. The efficient (if grotesquely uncomfortable) bus system. True, it has caused me much pain and aggravation, but honestly? For a poor country, it is ridiculously easy to move around in Nicaragua. Sure the buses are crappy, uncomfortable, hot, and usually overcrowded, but when it comes right down to it, if I needed to go to some distant city, I could get there that same day. Without a car, that's just impossible in the States.

5. Telenovelas. Latino soap operas are an art form. Let me be clear: they are painfully melodramatic, unrelieved by bursts of humor to alleviate the strain of watching lovers torn asunder, families split by jealousy, murder, deception, and intrigue. I can only watch them in small doses, really, but oh, those small doses are wonderful. My favorite novela right now is called "Sin Senos No Hay Paraíso," ("Without Breasts There Is No Paradise") a Colombian soap about women who get breast implants, but they are deceived by wicked men who don't give them silicone implants, but implants of COCAINE!! Then the women are sent to Mexico for some bizarre drug exchange, etc, etc. Basically, it's a lot of greasy looking guys and dumb broads with huge breasts bouncing around the television screen being alternately stupid and creepy in nice cars, mansions, and at the beach. My favorite parts are where the creepy looking guys make the dumb broads with huge breasts frolic in the water while they sit and ogle them, mostly because, without intending to, it ends up looking like an intentional parody of a basic porn motif. But it is neither intentional, nor a parody. It's just bad acting, bad script-writing, and I love it! In Matagalpa I always watched it with the grandmother in my house. She loved it too, but for a very different reason: whereas I thought of it as just a horrid form of poorly-done titillation, she sees the whole thing as a cautionary moral tale. "See," she explained to me, "This show teaches young women that they can't trust strange men!"

6. Random church processions in the street. Not much more to say, I just like them.

7. Piropos. I hate to admit it, but part of me thinks I might miss it when nobody calls out to me how beautiful I am, or what lovely eyes I have, or whatever other little compliment men toss off to women passing by on the street. I know they can get annoying, and sometimes they can be crass or rude, but honestly. What's wrong with having somebody tell you they think you're the cat's meow every now and then? Yes, I might miss that.

Ok, I could go on, but I think that's a good summary of my favorite things about Nicaragua. I'm off to the Cuban embassy now, to see if I can look at their archives from the 1980s. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Father of My Future Children

Ladies and gentlemen, today I have a special present for you. I know that normally I try to keep my love life private, but today I am just too happy to keep this to myself. You want to know why, don´t you. Well okay, then, I´ll tell you. Today, after waiting and searching and dreaming for 31 years for the man of my dreams to appear and sweep me off my feet, it is done. My heart, once mine to give freely, has been permanantly taken off the market. It now belongs to this guy: the father of my future children. Check out this video and tell me you aren´t going to fight me for him. He drives me crrrrrrrrraaaaazzzzyyyyyy!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

¡A Mi Me Gusta el Beisbol!

So despite Latin America's well-deserved reputation as a land of soccer fanatics, Nicaragua is a whole other ball of wax. Here, while soccer is understandably popular, the King of Sports is none other than good old-fashioned American Baseball, thanks to an early-20th century invasion by the U.S. Marines. While Nicaraguans aggressively opposed the American occupation of their nation, they fell in love with baseball and never stopped loving it. Yesterday was a lazy Sunday, and for once, I didn't have a whole lot going on. I suppose I could have sequestered myself in my room and spent many painstaking hours transcribing interviews, but frankly, I'm sick of it, and I needed a break. So I walked out on the street and asked around. Anything cool going on today in town? Why, yes, exclaimed a chatty vegetable salesman. Over at the stadium they're having the Departmental playoffs for the Liga Campesina ("Peasant League") and today Matagalpa is playing San Ramon. Lovely! I thought. I always enjoy a good baseball game, so I trotted over to the stadium, bought my ticket, and plopped myself down on the worn wooden bleachers.

Oh, my goodness. I love Nicaraguan baseball. First of all, let's get the idea of a Peasant League straight. These guys might live in poor little houses, have only basic levels of education, but holy shit do they take their baseball seriously. Their uniforms are spiffy and gleaming and ironed fresh, and out on the field they play with all the intensity of major leaguers. Nothing breaks their focus, and that in and of itself is astonishing, considering the absolute anarchy that rules outside the baselines. I've seen some crazy crowds in my life, and that baseball stadium outstripped them all. First of all, I was the only, I repeat THE ONLY woman in the whole place, though I doubt that was normal, really. And second of all, those guys were crazy. The announcer was seriously annoying, so a bunch of guys started shouting him down with wisecracks and insults, which he naturally had to respond to, and it all degenerated into a commentary that went kind of like this:

Announcer: "Cabrera, the left-handed pitcher, just swung and missed. Now he'll try again."
Wiseguys: "No, shit, you idiot, we have eyes too. Why don't you put your mother on the microphone!"
Announcer: "Special alert for the assholes along the third-base line, Cabrera swings again, and another strike, your mothers told my mother that you have small penises."
Wiseguys: "That's not what your wife said last night!"
Announcer: "My wife, a hit! Cabrera got a hit, it's a single, he'll stay at first, my wife, you little pubic hairs, knows better than to trade a stud like me for a little pubic hair like yourself."

You'd think that the announcers and the crowd might get tired of all this, but no. It went on for innings, getting progressively more ridiculous, the whole stadium laughing along. To add to the mayhem, a bunch of small boys loitering outside the stadium had rigged a rudimentary catapult out in the streets, and every time a foul ball landed outside the stadium (quite frequently) just a few minutes later it'd come hurtling back onto the field with frightening force, once nearly clocking the pitcher upside the head.

The game, which had been stalled for a while at 6-2 got more exciting when San Ramon scored 4 runs in the sixth inning, tying it up at 6, and then the whole place was on its feet. All the energy the crowd had previously devoted to cheerful insults was now focused so hard on the field their eyes bugged out of their heads. "No, not the lefty, you idiot coach! Run, run, run! Stop, stop, stop! Replace the umpire, he's a drooling moron!" They were on their feet, veins bulging in their foreheads, standing at the fence and gripping the chicken-wire for all they were worth. Matagalpa finally pulled it out in the 9th inning and took it away from San Ramon 7-6. All was well with the world, and men who only moments before had looked dangerously close to apoplexy clapped each other on the shoulders and moseyed their way on home.

It was, for me, a wonderful day. A baseball game, a melty ice cream cone, a bright sun, a cool breeze, and a scene like the one in that stadium. It just doesn't get much better than that.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dial... Up.... So..... Slow....

Hey folks, just a brief note from the campo of Nicaragua, where the internet is painfully slow, the people are friendly as heck, and the views go on for miles. I don´t have much time, as the day is packed with interviews (including one with a chocolatier who looks like a melting hershey´s kiss, no joke. where´s my camera when I need it?!).

So here´s a fun snapshot of my day. I was on the bus this morning, bouncing through the countryside and I noticed a woman standing in the aisle next to me, heavily pregnant. Here in Nicaragua it´s pretty common to see people wearing t-shirts with unintentionally ironic messages and pictures printed on them, but this might be the funniest one yet. She must have been 8 or 9 months pregnant, potentially with triplets. Or a cow. She was huge. And her t-shirt, stretched tiiiiiight across her belly, read, ¨Population Control.¨ I almost died laughing on the inside.

All right, no posting until Sunday or Monday. This dial-up is painful, so I´ll update again once I´m back in Matagalpa. Adios, mis petunias!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Nineteen days. NINETEEN DAYS?!?!!

BEWARE: With apologies to those readers who prefer jolly stories, this post is about my research process. Read on forewarned!

Oh, lordy, how in the world did this happen? I've only got 19 days left until I leave Nicaragua. Now don't get me wrong. I'm desperately happy to go back home, to have a hot water shower, to eat sushi, hug my sister, drink wine with my friends, sit in a comfortable easy chair, and dance to the rollicking tunes of a Texas honky-tonk band. But I'm also not ready to be done here yet. I know it's good to go home. I have somewhere between 50 and 60 interviews to re-listen to, a mountain of books and documents to read over, and this is a necessary stop in the dissertation process. Pausing to think and process and discuss with advisors and colleagues is something I need desperately, but still... Argh! I've finally broken through that big uh-oh moment I had a few weeks ago, and I'm on a roll here!

I've been cruising along with this research project, meeting people, interviewing people, asking questions, reading background information, and things have been going well. I'm working hard, collecting anywhere from 5 to 10 interviews a week, which is a pretty healthy clip, especially considering the legwork a girl's got to do in order to get even one interview lined up. I do laps of this city on foot, I phone people I've never met, who've never heard of me, and introduce myself, explain my project. I knock on doors, I smile big and friendly, I give out business cards like they're candy on Halloween. I sit around and wait for people to show up. I visit reluctant interviewees five or six time, trying to make friends. I buy people cups of coffee and lunch. I climb up into the slums on the city outskirts and pick my way around piles of donkey poo and through scurrying herds of chickens, giving the slightly feral dogs a wide berth. Yet for all this work, it never feels enough.

I panic that I haven't interviewed enough people, that I don't have enough interviews with nurses. (Shit. Note to self. Find more nurses.) Damn, it's hard to find anti-Sandinista doctors who will speak from any place but a deeply entrenched distaste for any and all FSLN social programs. I toy with different ways to ask the same question. I probe deeper to find the root of whatever resistance I encounter, often encountering only stiffer resistance. I listen to horrific stories of death and suffering in one interview, and in another the person I'm interviewing will flatly balk at giving me any personal anecdotes whatsoever. My mind is whirl of potential theoretical and interpretive frameworks. I long for my library at home, currently packed into boxes in a storage unit. When a people's memory of a period in time is scarred by trauma (terror, starvation, upheaval, loss, frustrated hopes and desires) how in the world can my questions about the health care program be answered in any sense outside of a post-traumatic reflex? What does this mean, in a larger sense, for my project?

Ok, deep breaths. The good news is that I'm once again truly engaged with this project. It is a new way for me to think about health care, but it's also fascinating glimpse into the murky world of historical memory, and I can't wait to dig a little deeper. So okay. Nineteen days. I've got some good interviews lined up, some short side-trips to nearby towns in the municipality to collect a few more interviews, and then home. And it will be enough, at least for now.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Night of Drag Queens: Pictures!! Also, More Things.

Ok, for those who requested them, here they are: pictures from the 2009 Miss Gay Matagalpa Beauty Pageant. Apologies for the fuzziness, but it's awful hard to take pictures in the dark. Sadly, some of the best moments didn't come out at all, nor could I get close-ups of some of the more egregious examples of boy-that-looks-hotter-than-angelina-jolie, or boy-that-looks-like-linebacker-in-a-dress, etc. And trust me, not being able to see pictures of those chicks is just about the worst thing that's going to happen to you today.

M'er F'er, I can't get any other pictures to load of the beauty pageant.

In other random news, a German tourist wearing a fanny pack, a mosquito-repelling-hat-with-net, quick-dry pants, and black socks under Teva sandals just walked into the bar I'm at right now. Oh, goodness, this is too funny for words. I heart stereotypes.

Also, for your delectation and enjoyment, some pictures of the group that went out this weekend. The two gringos are the medical doctors I met in Mulukuku, the small town I went to last week to collect some interviews. And you know what's really cool and coincidental? That handsome bearded blond fellow, the one that's doing his best to look almost unbearably creepy right there, is none other than my good friend Mutt's brother, Gregorio! What a freakin' teeny tiny little world we live in. About two weeks ago Mutt wrote me: "hey cheasty, guess what, i just learned that my brother is in this little town in Nicaragua called Mulukuku. I don't know if that's anywhere near you, but just in case, I thought I'd let you know." And of course I almost died of surprised and delighted shock, since I was getting to head right to that teensy tinsy little itty bitty town myself in just a few days. When last I'd seen Gregorio we'd been matched up on a bocce ball team that decimated the competition at a family picnic last spring. With such a glorious history between us, who wouldn't want to be reunited in the Nicaraguan campo? He and his colleague Emilia were working at the health cooperative up there, and we had a blast the whole time I was there, and then again when they stopped by Matagalpa on their way out of the country this past weekend.

M'er F'er, I can't get any other pictures to load of the big group of us. Effing internet sucks.

And lastly in my string of random things, oh my goodness, I have caught some kind of parasite or something. Lindsey the Hairwrecker (go read: she's hilarious) is going to be jealous as hell, in the midst of all the exercising and dieting, because, baby, this is the way to lose weight fast. It's not fun, but when everything you put in your mouth races out the other end 19 minutes later, the pounds just melt away. Sadly, you also feel sort of saggy and tired and malnourished all the time, but as my grandmother once said, "Dahling, one must suffer to be beautiful."

All right, I have lost my will to battle spotty internet for the time being. As it is, I'm running dangerously close to getting deleted in another one of the perpetual rolling power outages up here. Adios, hasta luego!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Oh, It Was Fun. Really, Really Fun!

So here in Nicaragua my life is more like that of an old retired lady than I'm generally comfortable with. Most nights I'm in bed by 9, easy. Lights out by 9:30. It's not that I don't go have a drink with friends, eat out, have a nice evening here and there. But honestly? The number of times I've had lights out by even 8:00pm is a little embarrassing. Regardless of how healthy, wealthy and wise that's supposed to make me, I'm frankly just a little too young to be all tucked in by sundown, night after night, with a cup of chamomile tea and a Louisa May Alcott novel. Yet such is my life right now.

Thus, it is with some relish that I report to you, my precious posies, that your Amazing Cheastypants had one hell of a fun time this weekend. Some American medical doctors I met in Mulukuku were in town here in Matagalpa, several of my favorite Nica chicas all happened to be around and eager to go out, and WHOOSH! Off went the old maid's cap. SWAP! Down with the Victorian literature! ZWOOM! On with my one set of cute clothes, and WA-HOOOOOO! Out the door. It's been a while since I've sparkled and bounced and left glittery dust in the air as I walked through a room, but my acres and acres of gorgeous beautiful bouncy hair did not let me down. I was a princess! No, a party animal. No, a princess. A princessy party animal! We dined out and told charming stories and made each other laugh till we cried. We drank wine (WINE!) and burbled over with happiness. We flitted about town on a cloud of glamour and joy, stopping for drinks here, for a little more gracious living over there. And then, as the evening's crowning achievement, one of my friends said, "So, does anybody want to go over to the drag queen show?"

It was one of those moments that makes you shake your head like a wet dog and ask that the person who spoke repeat the question. Drag queen show? Wait a second. Where am I? I'm in Nicaragua, right? A drag queen show in Nicaragua? Oh, holy shit, you couldn't keep me away with heavy chains and handcuffs, even if you cast a magic spell of unbreakability upon them. This, I have GOT to see.

So off we went, and I'll try and update with some pictures once I load them up, but this was one of the more amazing things I've seen here. It turned out to be not just a drag queen show, but an actual beauty pageant. Miss Gay Matagalpa, 2009, and the joint was PACKED. Homosexuality isn't exactly what you'd call accepted here, generally speaking, so to see these queens dressed to the nines, made up like beauty contestants, and to watch them walk the catwalk, to watch Nicaraguan men whistling and catcalling and cheering them on... Well. It was just grand, and the after party wasn't bad either. We danced our little socks off, buoyed up by the general cloud of goodwill that permeated the event, and when at last I collapsed in my bed at the outrageously late hour of ONE-THIRTY A.M. (!!!) I drifted off to sleep with a smile on my face and the thought that this had been a very very good day. Such a good day that it sort of made up for the fact that I'll be in bed by 9:00 again tonight, and that I'm actually kind of anxious to find out what happens with Jo and Laurie. Not to mention Meg and John Booth. Ooh, the drama!