Nicaragua (Summer 2007)

Iglesia de la Merced
Granada, Nicaragua was the second oldest city built on the American mainland (after Cumaná, Venezuela). The name William Walker, an American filibuster from the mid-19th c., is still on everyone’s lips centuries later. He was famous for attempting to burn down the city after failing to gain monarchal status (President of Nicaragua 1856-1857) and left scrawled “Granada was here”. This is one remnant of Walker’s pyromania.

Calle la Calzada torn up & awaiting repair. Molly & I took language classes down this street: 4 hours a day of conversation, vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation with one-on-one tutors revolving on the hour. Mine: Michael, Olga, Eric & Jahira.

Whoever tried to tell me that Nicaragua’s principal form of transportation was not a Blue Bird bus can reap what they’ve sown: maybe I’ve won another bet! (By the way, when did an + other merge & why is “an other” now improper instead of discretionary?)

Iglesia de la Merced

One-on-one language school, for a creepy picture of Roger Menor.

So few Nicaraguan girls in these tiny trappings/vestiditos.

Central Park in Granda, Nicaragua.

Iglesia San Francisco in striking, laundry blue.

“El Mueble” camioneta.

Aviaries can lodge people, too (and sometimes more appropriately than houses).

The most lonesome isleta of all.
There are 365 (a more conservative guess would be 352) tiny isletas scattered around the base of Volcán Mombacho in Lago Cocibolca, formed after an eruption some 20,000 years ago & now housing reaaaal casas feas & Calvin Klein models.

Rosita’s house, where Molly and I stayed for our first week.
You walk in and the house is set up like several pieces of “that kinda cereal” that comes in square, ring shapes with lush vegetation filling the open center. The second verdant center is stippled with family parrots that scream “Franco” in Rosita’s voice; the name of her 7-year-old grandson.
By the way, a ring is not, by necessity, a circular shape. You need to unlearn that, among other things.

The bus driver’s little girl (see: the vision in the rearview mirror or in the graduation cap).

Mercado de Artesanías in Masaya.
These are masks worn on the annual Los Agüizotes for traditional dancing & fesitivities.

Chris, Molly & Hannah.

Excuse me, this isn’t Oregon Trail. Take the carts off the horses you sadists.

¡una quinceañera!

At least a dozen vehicles bursting with 15-or-sos, their balloons, pom-poms, flowers, streaming ribbons, etc in this procession.

After Hannah, Molly & my dance lessons (Bachata, Merengue & Salsa) one night in Granada.

“Goodnight room. Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon. Goodnight light, and the red balloon…”

On our way to Fortaleza de la Pólvora.

Cementerio de Granada

This is a very dramatic cemetery with all headstones, mausoleums, sculptures, dedicatory benches, and gates whitewashed. This also includes the trunks of all the palm trees and thus gives the effect of looming, desiccated bones. I felt a bit like Aschenbach in the opening of Death in Venice.

Shrunken flowers for the departed (whoever decided that drying flowers would be a heartening sight to those survived?).

Mercado in Granada, Nicaragua.

Un Nicaragüense y su juego de ajedrez.

There is a clothesline strung with miniature, plastic animals that, when struck by the setting sun, gleams.

My favorite picture of Molly in la Laguna de Apoyo.
I always thought lagoons were strictly swampy, marshy places of standing water and cicadas that never stopped talking, but this lagoon (as seems to be the definition of “laguna” as far as Nicaragua is concerned) is a body of water formed in the crater of a volcano! This particular one is a sulfuric, fresh-water pool that measures 6km in diameter and the cone is deepest at 600 M. I swam about 1 or 2 km out into the lagoon and it was frighteningly dark, but I kept myself assured by the fact that there is very little life in the lagoon, only tiny fish that you never catch a glimpse of. Then a tiny bubble floated up from the endless cavity & brushed my leg.

Here are some of the friends we made over the course of our unreal day floating in a lagoon. Kenny, a man from Glasgow that travels on his own but makes the juvenile decision (daily) to take Vicodin, pass out, and expect newly-made friends to cart him around (including expectations that strangers won’t leave him to sleep on a Saturday night; they will, instead, carry him to a discotheque or otherwise where he can find new people to depend on). Better: the sweetest, most energetic sound engineer from Antwerp.

See also: “PINCH ME.”

León, Nicaragua: “the intellectual capital of Nicaragua”.
The first city was destroyed by a volcanic eruption, and the new city is 20 miles east of the new one, moved around 1610.

Iglesia de la Recollecion

León, Nicaragua’s “Twin Cities” are all great ones:
Hamburg, Germany
Lund, Sweden
Oxford, England
Utrecht, Netherlands
& Alicante, Spain

The theme of this series is “Molly unawares”.

(Augusto César) Sandino & the FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front).
The Sandinista flag is split through the center with the upper section red and the bottom black. In several instances, Nicaraguans made the innocent error of sporting Anarchist flags with red and black pennants sitting into each other (or, cut diagonally instead of two rectangular sections). I then made the honest mistake of thinking this flag was chosen with intention.



Some more León. Let me know if you recognize some of these fools! Especially the dextral-most one with the mustachioed-face.

Mario & some sorority.

Molly, Tristan (& Iseult), and I went to the central park of León for the dia de San Cristóbal.

Molly at las Peñitas, about to get blown over by a wave.

Un cochinillo en las Peñitas.

Some of the surviving murals from the 1979 Sandinista Revolution / the overthrow of Somoza.

Molly unawares # such-and-such.

Have you ever seen such a dainty woman?

The color of this wall.

la Isla de Ometepe, deriving from Nahuatl words ome = two & tepetl = mountain as it is formed by two volcanoes: Volcán Concepción & Volcán Maderas (1600 M & 1390 M respectively).

Stopping at Lago Cocibolca in the middle of a bike ride.

Soccer game in Altagracia.
By the way, béisbol is far more popular among Nicaraguans.

Molly around 6 pm.

Molly around 6 am.

la Finca Magdelena, Isla de Ometepe.
From the site: “Ubicados en las faldas del Volcán Maderas, Finca Magdalena es una finca orgánica que tiene una propiedad de 350 hectáreas en la Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua. Dirigido por un colectivo de 24 familias la finca produce café orgánico, plátanos, leche, miel de avejas, maíz, frijoles, arroz, vegetales y contribuimos a la protección del medio ambiente. ¡Quedese con nosotros cuando visite la isla! Tenemos hospedaje, restaurante, servicios de camping y tours con guía por los volcánes Maderas y Concepción.”
Essentially, it is a cooperative farm owned by about 24 families, with coffee farms, plantains, milk & honey, corn, beans, rice, vegetables & probably “fostering environmental protection”. It sits at the base of Volcán Maderas and overlooks Volcán Concepción & is a 15 minute walk from Balgües on Isla de Ometepe.

I mean, it is inconceivably gorgeous up there.

A huge moth.
“Memento mori”

Un caballero passing us by in the jungle!

Molly twisting her toe.

This sunset was worth putting up with New Jersey guy.

Some of you will get pieces of mail from Nicaragua. Others of you should still give me your address because I have a lot of letter-writing energy and enthusiasm.

“Images from the Revolution”

Molly arrayed in some smelly mosquito net. She’s reading In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in Mobutu’s Congo by Michela Wrong.
I finished:
Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
Vol. 5 of Anaïs Nin’s Diary (1947-1955) by my spiritual mother.
Watt by Samuel Beckett (to page 80, I am giving up) which is no sequel to Murphy and doesn’t hold a candle to it, sadly.
& about 100 pages of Myths of Gender: Biological Theories About Women and Men by Anne Fauto-Sterling. Undecided whether I will finish. Now: The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco.

San Juan del Sur is a big secret.

This hotel we stayed at (by the way, we never paid more than 6USD/night for any place) has resident crabs & at night you need to listen carefully for nearby scuttling if you’re trying to make your way in one piece to the bathroom.

San Juan del Sur

Lemme know what tinyanimal traced these veins into the sand.

Yes: intertidal zones. My favorite.
And I met some math teachers from Cornwall (summer surfing holiday) who were finally able to explain tides to me (why some of the world has only two tides a day while others have four).

We were on a bus from San Juan del Sur to Rivas, Nicaragua when the bus broke down. For about 45 minutes various things were tried, resulting in 1. the bus rolling backwards down a mountain while in neutral 2. awaiting the delivery of a gas tank 3. the siphoning of the gas (I don’t understand why, please explain this to me if possible).

TRIP ON THIS: While we were waiting for the bus to get fixed, I met a couple from Ireland (she from Cork, he from Wicklow) and they told me they were both at NCAD. So I tell them I was actually at this year’s annual graduate student/masters student thesis-project exhibition, and he says, “Deadly, I had an exhibit this year because it was my last year.” When he started describing his invention-piece (a portable projector guy) I started describing his own project back to him!!!

& now my wanderlust has finally abated a bit – good timing because I have no choice. I can barely afford the gas needed to move back to Raleigh!!!!


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