Agua In Nicaragua

This blog entry about the events of Saturday, December 29, 2007 was originally posted on January 27, 2008.

DAY 39:  If it is me who has an affinity for puns, it is Elaine who has an affinity for rhymes.  One of her goals on this trip was to have “Agua in Nicaragua,” a fitting sounding pair not only because she doesn’t drink alcohol, but because there was much ado about water in Nicaragua — particularly on the Isla Ometepe surrounded by the fresh water of Lago de Nicaragua.

Most visitors to Isla Ometepe do the usual hike up the Maderas Volcano, which isn’t easy; from the comments we heard of people who’d done it, it wasn’t a cake walk — a long, exhausting all-day up and down hike.  With limited time, Elaine and I opted not to blow an entire day being completely exhausted, and started the morning off with an easier bike-and-hike to the nearby waterfall whose name we never really figured out.  “It’s The Waterfall,” I joked.  “It’s the only waterfall in Central America.”

With us was a new friend we met who I noticed put a phone number with area code “(718)” in the registry.  “Okay, who’s from Brooklyn here?” I called out.  Eventually we met him:  Jonas, a youth counselor from the hood, who pegged me for a fellow New Yorker with the slight New York accent he apparently picked up on.  With a mumbling Jewish schtick, he was good company, and he decided to join Elaine and myself in renting bikes.  The three of us rode them down the main dirt road along the island shore — a road where bikes and cars shared the space with lounging cattle — and eventually we made it not too far to San Ramon, the Florida-esque gated community where the hiking trail head was located in.

It was a hot one out there — “Bring lots of water!” we had been advised — and perhaps it wasn’t just good advice for humans.  At the restaurant near the trailhead we met a couple of Americanized Nicaraguans nursing a sick little kitty named Mittens who was vomitting from dehydration.  “It’s Animal Rescue!” Elaine said.  Mittens was force-fed some medicine, but didn’t take to liking it very much

But cute little kitties weren’t our goal of the day, we were on a quest for Agua in Nicaragua.  We followed the arrows along the trail, which led us up and up the surprisingly challenging incline of the volcano side — it proved to be a little more difficult for Elaine and her flip-flops.  She trekked on like the best of them (she’s a marathon runner after all) and after waiting at every hill for even a glimpse of the waterfall, we eventually made it. 

“What’s his name again?” I whispered to Elaine.  She was as bad with names as I am.

“I forgot,” she admitted.  “Just call him ‘Brooklyn.’  Yeah Brooklyn!”  The two of them posed for photos

While not the most spectacular waterfall I’ve seen — it was no Iguazu or Victoria — it was still pretty enough to validate our efforts — quite tall too, relatively speaking.  We hung out for a breather and then took the long hike back down, discouraging some hikers going up after telling them truthfully how much longer it was.

“YOU KNOW WHAT the most refreshing thing after something like this is?” I brought up to my fellow trekkers, not implying Nicaraguan agua.  “An ice cold Coca-Cola.  It tastes so good.”

“I think it’s different out here,” Brooklyn/Jonas added.  “They use pure sugar cane out here.”

“Oh, is that what it is?”  This wasn’t the first time I’d raved about Coca-Cola; raving about it with Shelle in Zambia comes to mind when thinking about a cross-referencing blog entry to link to.  My influence caught on and back at the restaurant, we all chilled out with ice cold Cokes, which made each of us smile.  A second and a third one for me washed down the yummy tilapia sandwich I had for lunch there. 

CONTINUING THE THEME of “Agua in Nicaragua,” Elaine and I borrowed a two-person kayak to paddle around the lake — using the loophole of “borrowing” from Canadians Tom and Lara, who had rented it for their entire stay (we offered them our full-stay bike rentals in return).  Taking the suggestion of Grace the old hippie, we took the plastic vessel out, farther than we anticipated, towards the other volcano of the island, in search of a river.  “Is that it?” I wondered at every bend.  “Is that it?”  “This has to be it.”  It took over an hour to find the damn thing, but eventually we were in the calm embrace of tranquil waters, reminiscent of the tributaries of the Amazon, sans piranha.  Without being complete bird nerd birdwatchers, we admired the feathered beings around the area, one pair in particular that seemed to promote racial harmony

Getting to the river took far longer than we thought, and it was a race again time to get back to camp before nightfall.  It was only about halfway back that we got to witness the sunset (picture above) — fortunately, there was enough ambient light to get us back just before it got really dark.  We arrived back just in time for the dinner buffet, plus rounds of cards with some new camp friends.

WE HAD AMASSED a big group of friends that evening as we collectively went out to a big local town party on the island that we had been tipped off to by one of the volcano hike guides.  We had safety in numbers getting there on the quiet dark road that only got louder the closer we became to the party, a sort of concert with a stage, and an emcee and DJ to host the show.  At first when we stepped through the barricade, we didn’t know what we’d gotten into; on stage there were guys doing striptease dances while other guys on stage encouraged them — all for the mostly male crowd. 

“Sin ropa!  Sin ropa!  Sin ropa!” (“Without clothes!”) chanted the crowd to the beat of the music.

Eventually we figured it was all in fun and games — and for prizes for that matter; the guy with the most impressive striptease (to underwear) got to win… a bicycle!  In this contest, a good body didn’t matter; in fact, it was the chubby guy named Hilo (sp?) that won with his funny Truffle Shuffle-like dance.  His victory, based on crowd cheers, could have been contributed to us; we all totally cheered him on for he was the one we recognized as he one of the guys who worked that the hostel camp.  Later on, he reveled in his win in our company on the dancefloor.

But it wasn’t just a guy’s night on stage; girls took to the stage too, and not just in the form of the scantilly-clad eye candy ones that danced to the music playing.  Some local “regular” girls too came to the stage as well.  Much to the guys’ chagrin, they were not involved in a striptease contest, but a beer-chugging one.  “It’s the complete opposite,” one of us commented.  “[It should be the girls doing the striptease and the guys doing the beer chug.]”  Three lucky girls from the audience volunteered to join in the competition, which involved chugging a can of beer, getting spun around five times, then chugging another can of beer, getting spun five more times, then chugging a third beer, followed by having to stand on one leg.  The first two young ladies couldn’t handle their liquor at all; the first one vomitted and the second spit her beer out.  The third was triumphant, and was rewarded with… a bicycle.

The rest of the night was pretty fun.  We took to the dancefloor amongst the locals, with the gringo girls like Cory pairing off with aggressive locals — I had to pose as designated “boyfriend” to save her.  One particular guy was aggressive towards anyone regardless of gender, including myself, trying to show off his dance moves and saying nothing but, “Hip hop!  Hip hop!”  He gyrated his hips in a drunken way, and was even kicked off the breakdancing circle that formed by the stage — the stars there were the breakers, including one little kid who impressed everyone.  Not that Ashton (from Seattle) and his volcano guide Neftali paid much attention; it was their goal to have their photos taken with the sexy stage dancers.  Neftali was so enamored by the moment, he begged Elaine over and over to send him her pictures of him via email.  “My friends won’t believe me without pictures,” he said.  “She touched my hand.  I will never wash this hand again!” he joked.

Regardless of any encounters with the two dancers, it was a fun night overall — and all without any more agua in Nicaragua.  Elaine had a good time anyway, as long as I emailed her photos of her jumping in mid-air

For Elaine’s photos and comments of the trip, check out her gallery here.  Also, her collective video clips are here on YouTube.


For Elaine’s photos and comments of the trip, check out her gallery here.  Also, her collective video clips are here on YouTube.

Next entry: Nicaraguan New Year’s

Previous entry: The Same Old Thing

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This blog post is one of thirty-nine travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip: The Central American Eviction Tour* (*with jaunt to Colombia)," which chronicled a six-week journey through Central America, with a jaunt to Bogota, Colombia.

Next entry:
Nicaraguan New Year’s

Previous entry:
The Same Old Thing


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