Friday, November 21, 2008

Heading back to the Caribbean!

Day: 257

The last few days have been a series of big build ups to rather unexciting climaxes, rather like a lot of people´s Prom night.

When we arrived in Leon, we knew coming in that there had been a lot of political tension, warnings by the state department for Americans to stay out, and political protests, some of which had turned violent. We decided to come anyway and on our way in saw bus after bus of protestors making there way into Managua, the capitol, waving Black and Red flags. Apparently in the recent elections there was such a high level of fraud that the government decided to veto the results and hold a new election.

So, in light of this decision locals expected huge protests with rallies clogging the streets, cops with tear gas, rubber bullets, fire hoses, the works. The night we arrived we heard constant firecrackers, what sounded like gunshots and sirens going off. People were walking the streets banging on drums and dancing around in bizarre costumes, which looked to be culturally significant, but as for the political meaning, if any, I never found out. It razzled us a bit and the owner of the hostel here told us to expect a crazy day of political activism and that there was a good chance we wouldn´t be able to go outside. So, Tamarah and I called it a night wondering if we had made a bad choice in coming, but also a bit excited by the electricity in the air and for a chance to see firsthand people exercising their rights to protest a corrupt government (or in some cases, their support for said government).

The next morning was beautiful, sunny and hot, with people peacefully going about their day. We hung around for a few hours to make sure nothing would erupt suddenly, but in the end nothing happened. We were both relieved and a little disappointed to be honest.

So, we made our way out to a little village called San Jacinto, which was home to what we thought were hot springs and warm mud baths. We were picturing warm, bubbling mineral pools we could relax and soak in, and exotic mud pools possessed of some cleansing powers that cured the locals of all manner of illness. Well, this turned out to be another overly hyped tale, and in reality consisted of a few bubbling pools of sulfurous mud so hot that the local kids could cook corn in them. It was more like a vision of one of the middle levels of hell than the relaxing paradise we imagined.

But, it was still a fun excursion as the local kids that showed us around were very funny and energetic and made the day enjoyable. The village itself was really interesting, being built along a dusty, rocky road. It is crazy to go from Leon, a beautiful if somewhat run down colonial city some 500 years old to a tiny village just down the road and probably just as old that looks like it is just a few steps from the stone age. Every hut was dirt floored, with no electricity or running water. The kids had to run down to the river with large buckets to get water for the household. People got around on horseback and there were all kinds of livestock milling about.

The people were however, universally friendly and nice. A characteristic that seems pretty common in this country. The kids were just kids too, the boys running around kicking each other and laughing, shooting things with sling shots. The girls smiling and picking flowers. Its funny, no matter where you go, kids are all the same. Its only the culture they live in that shapes them into adults different from those of any other place.

We gave the little munchkins a few bucks for showing us around and came back to Leon. Tomorrow we head off for the Corn Islands, which we are both really looking forward to, but it will be a bit bittersweet too as it will also mean the end of our time together. That is the thing with traveling, you meet great people, bond, only to go separate ways with the chance of seeing one another again not so good. But, you never know. I have two friend coming in to travel with me in the near future too, so that will be nice.

Until next time!

The oh so luxurious mud baths...

Looks inviting, doesnt it?

It smelled like rotten eggs.

We saw a lot of people walking the streets in this strange costumes playing music.

The kids that helped us out, weird, none of them are smiling in the pic, but the entire time we were with them they were running around laughing and singing and what not.

San Jacinto in all its glory.

One of the little boys made this for Tamarah, he even put her name on it, although he speeled it wrong, but that makes it even cooler!

Rush hour!


Donnie said...

Hey Reece, I bet you can't stand running into places with much less-fortunate people. It would sadden my heart. I would have to go on a peace mission! And the sulfur pools?! UGH. I've only ever seen video footage, and it LOOKS nasty enough... but the smell of raw sulfur?! ewwww... i'll bet that was a joy.

I am so very glad to know that you are back out exploring though and doing much better than a few months ago. I was praying for you, that you would heal quickly and still be able to continue your adventure. Such a beautiful person, inside and out, deserves to experience all the beauty of the world, and I'm glad that your heart and soul are beautiful enough to share it all with us, you really do a great job of bringing it all home to everybody, with your great writing, and stories of your experiences, and your FABULOUS ability to use a camera! You take some great pics, and that really makes it an experience for other people, to be able to see what you see with depth and clarity. You could really go places with your visual abilities!!

Anyways, just wanted to show some blog-love and say that I'm glad you're out having fun again, back to your usual, energetic self!! Enjoy the trip, I know I am enjoying watching and reading!! Thanks for doing something so awesome and being so awesome as to share it all with your friends who care so much about you! Take good care of yourself now ya hear!! BIG HUGS!!!!

Love you LOTS and LOTS buddy!!!

Mattis said...

You probably already know this by now, but those people in the "strange costimes" are only around during November and December in Leon. Simply kids running around beating drums trying to make a bit of extra cash. The tall girl is supposed to be an arrogant Spanish woman while she looks down upon the short Nicaraguan with the big head. It has a lot more story to it than that, but that is the basic gist of it.

Laters Buddy,