Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Catarina & San Juan de Oriente, Nicaragua May 17

I think it's Nicaragua where I've seen the widest array of goods and foods for sale on the street or in the buses, even more than India.  Since the time I arrived, either I or Marty (the American that finally left today, yay!) have been offered various sorts of foods from meals to snacks to desserts, fresh beverages or pop, jewellery, hair accessories, among others.  But my favourites have been weed, cocaine, and power drills.  I think the latter is the most surprising to me because I could see being asked if I wanted to buy all the other stuff, but power drills?  Do people really buy those off the streets?  And why are they being offered to tourists?  Have any tourists actually bought one?  How do you transport that home?  I just thought it was hilarious.

Anyway, what a great day this was.  I was able to avoid Marty in the morning.  He did, unfortunately, go to my garden oasis for breakfast, but I saw where he was sitting, which was thankfully far from the front, so I sat at the front pretending not to see him.  I brought my journal with me so was in the midst of writing when he finally passed by to leave.  Thankfully, I looked busy enough; he asked me to update him about the rest of my trip just before walking out and then I felt so free the rest of the day.

I started out at the main market.  It was crowded and hot, and all that is for sale there is food, produce, and hordes of random stuff.  The good part about it is that the route I took allowed me to happen across the bus station I needed to get to for the bus to San Juan de Oriente and Catarina.  I was so hot by then, my skin was glistening with sweat.  I love that people come on the buses so much selling things, so I had a delicious fresco de cacao, which is essentially horchata with cocoa.  That was really refreshing as it was ice cold.  I was happy mine came with a straw, as I had only seen them without, and as they're served in baggies, people usually bite off a hole in the corner and squeeze the beverage out.  I just felt that was dangerous for me as I'd probably bite too big a hole or more than one and have a messy accident.  Things like this have happened to me in other travels!

The bus finally pulled away, another old yellow bus, providing much needed air circulation.  I saw some great signs along the way, one that was on a truck transporting cattle that read "Somos Toros" (We are bulls); another sign was "For Sale: Bryan McGlynn's Quinta." Such a typical Spanish name! haha My only concern on this journey was not knowing where to get off.  The stops are not marked at all.  As it is, I did miss the stop, so I walked about 2km back in the height of the day's sun to San Juan de Oriente, home of the best ceramics artisans in the country, to check out some pottery.  It's indeed beautifully detailed work.  And sadly difficult to transport pieces home.  Hence, my photos of them have to suffice.  I have another photo in my Nicaragua photo album that I posted, but I thought I would share just a couple of photos from my trip since I'm directly referring to these things.

From there, I asked one of the shop owners how to get to El Mirador at Catarina because the signage was really confusing, so I wasn't really sure where to go.  The place was yet another couple of kilometres away, so I took a 3-wheeled scooter taxi--which I didn't know were used outside Asia--to the lookout point.  I'd read that admission is $1, but somehow arriving in that taxi, they didn't charge me anything.  I don't know why.  In any case, the scene from there is stunning.  You look down into a lake-filled crater and can see across to Granada and el Lago de Nicaragua, with Mombacho volcano to the right.  On a pathway down the side of the steep hill you're looking down from, there was a group of guys playing some sort of game with a tennis ball.  I was thinking that was crazy since the path is lined with fence due to the steep drop on its side, and yet the guys would go down and get the ball if it went over the edge.  It was crazy!

I didn't linger long, which was just as well as my luck would have it again, buses of school children arrived, so that would have spoiled the serenity and stillness of the moment.  I hopped another 3-wheeled taxi, and he took me to the nearest bus stop.  As soon as I returned to Granada, I decided to get some food as I hadn't time to eat lunch.  I first found a lady on the sidewalk selling mangoes with vinegar and salt, so I bought some of that because a friend had recommended it, and it was actually not that bad!  Still I wanted some more substantial food so kept walking.

Thinking my adventures were over, I stepped into the Euro Cafe for a bite to eat as they have fresh food of sandwiches and salads.  They also have free wifi, so I was going to check my email and Facebook, but a guy in the store, who happens to run shuttles and tours, at first advertised them to me but then sat at my table and proceeded to flirt with me.  I wasn't attracted to him anyway, but even if I had been, his admission of women being his one weakness (like that's unique to him and not an issue with lots of men! haha), his having slept with umpteen women, and the fact that 2 of the foreigners he slept with bore his children, was really not appealing.  He asked me out tonight, and I graciously declined.  I don't need that kind of trouble or drama!  I decided instead to just chill the rest of the evening, and that's what I'm doing now :o)

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