Including the drive train. Totally cool.
When I was in Nicaragua, I took a break from writing. I didn't blog. I didn't email. I didn't even journal. Well, not much at least. I feel like I've been running flat out for two years or more, working long hours and long weeks, working weekends as a norm, and spending most of my free time running, biking, and swimming. Most of my getaways have been backpacking trips or other, similarly arduous episodes.
I needed a break. I needed to do nothing. And so I did.
The downside to that is that now I've come back with a lot to say--about Nicaragua, about PayPerPost, about my friend Brian who passed away while I was out of the country. And yet I've said nothing, and after being back for a full week, I have yet to even manage to upload all my pictures (although I have got a good start).
This blog, or site, or whatever it is, has long been a personal pursuit. I talk about me and us, not he and they. When I do weigh in on weighty matters, it's typically still meant as a vehicle for personal expression--a way to communicate opinions with family and friends. Targeted broadcasting. All of which is to say that as a Professional Communicator, sometimes I let my personal communications slide, in the same way that after a long day spent making work-related calls, you wouldn't want to jump on the phone when you get home.
But that's a mistake. And this trip has reinforced an idea I already knew: that if you want to have a record of something, you need to record it as it happens. Each day that I'm back, I'm less and less likely to tell you about the insane boat ride, the amazing birds and monkeys, the volcanos, the Nica people, the island, the lake, the food, or anything else. Instead, it just recedes into memory until it is placed in a box so far to the back with so many other boxes stacked in front of it that nothing ever happens and eventually it is lost forever.
This was my favorite photo. It's of the square in Granada. I loved Granada, much in the same way and for many of the same reasons, that I loved Hanoi. But Granada is infinitely more chill. It's a city of food and culture. Plays and music. Art and architecture. William Walker, the American adventurer who tried to establish white rule in Mexico and Central America, burned it to the ground, burying a coffin in the park central (this square) with a sign that read "Aqui Fue Granada." La Iglesia Merced and La Gran Francia survived. I'm glad, because it's "una ciudad muy antigua y bonita." I heard that phrase, spoken with pride, again and again. Not just in Granada, but throughout Nicaragua. Es verdad.
It's not much to say, but it's a start.
Last night, I got to see Steve in action on Vallejo Street. On my way home, I walked past my across the street neighbors standing in the rain. She was wearing some sort of large white taffeta thing--I don't think it was meant to be ferry wings with a cape, but thats what it looked like--that was sticking out from beneath her winter coat. They were standing beneath the streetlight, getting out of a cab. As he bent over to pay the cab driver, I noticed his face was painted silver, and he wore a large black mustache across his face, Pringles action, and large painted on black eyebrows. I glanced at her and saw she also sported a silver base layer with drawn on black (or possibly red, or purple, or green, it was dark) features. It was impressive, for a Thursday.
I get really tired of San Francisco sometimes, especially lately. Burned out. All that. But then a night like last night comes along every once in a while, and it just restores my faith in the pace. Face paint and potential motorcycle ass-kickings and all.
I'm going to have a lot to say about Nicaragua. A lot. To say. But I'll start with this: although you can certainly get cash in plenty of places there now, in a good many others the idea of an ATM machine is still as foreign as a sound Republican fiscal policy. They do not exist, and you gotta plan ahead.
When I was traveling in Asia for six months, and on trips to Mexico, I had used a standard money "belt" that's really more of a pouch that you tuck into your beltline and then subsequently appear to have either a distended abdomen, or a money belt tucked into your pants.
I happened to see this one at REI just before I left, and it's pretty much exactly what I've always been looking for in a money belt. I can keep my documents safely hidden elsewhere, thanks much. But for carrying cash through pickpockety or banditry prone places, this sucker is tops. Demo below.
The biggest thing I learned about traveling when we spent six months on the road in Southeast Asia was Bring Less Shit. No matter how much shit you have, bring less. I wound up with extra room in both my pack and daypack, but I still think I'm bringing too much. I could certainly do with one less cotton T-shirt (or none!) and pair of underwear. With a little more winnowing, I could have traveled with just the daypack, which would be a dream.