Hi, Mom! If you are not my mom and you venture into the ramblings below do so with mother-like forgiveness of grammar and precarious punctuation because time is scarce and grammar and punctuation are not. Please further note that these are but mere personal impressions seen through an astigmatic (I’m quite unable to see) and sarcastic lens. Generalizations and broad, sweeping statements will be used wildly and should be taken lightly. Consider yourself warned.
“Sir, please button your shirt,” the flight attendant asked in Spanish of the man seated in front of me who resembled a latino version of Christian Bale’s character in American Hustle. The request was repeated several times on each of several occasions, and when we deboarded in Managua I noted that the man’s buttons remained undone. And so began my journey to Nicaragua with what I hoped would be just the first of many a bare-chested dissident.
The taxi ride from Managua to León was long with horses and dogs roaming dangerously along the sides of the road. When I heard a loud boom that I thought was either a car backfiring or a gunshot and asked what it was the reply was, “Fireworks. They always do fireworks here”. It was then I knew I would like this land where bright, flaming booms happen at any and all times. Maybe it has to do with the not so long ago revolution that happened here (murals, t-shirts, and ruins of buildings are just a few of the reminders that keep the revolutionary spirit alive) but in León fireworks are not just legal but seemingly encouraged. One local’s theory as to the abundant fireworks is that each of León’s many churches is dedicated to a different virgin/saint and the Catholic calendar celebrates a different virgin/saint nearly every day, which in Nicaragua involves a procession starting and ending with fireworks. I have also seen them used for birthday celebrations. Whatever the reason, they are heard on most days and at many hours…1am…4:30am…6:19am, what have you. Despite these unconventional hours and maybe never really knowing what the fireworks are for, the sound still makes me smile as I like to think that whoever is lighting the fuse is surely having a grand ol’ celebration or simply being raucous because they can.
At the homestead, one of the first things I noticed is that the rooms are open at the top to allow for air flow and there is an inner courtyard that allows the elements into your home, as with many homes here. The courtyard is most enjoyable because you can live in the middle of the city and step straight out of your bedroom and into your own slice of nature. As a bonus, you feel like you have lots of neat quasi-pets that you neither need to care for nor ask permission to have like geckos, tarantulas, iguanas, hummingbirds, bats, and turtles. Plus, when it rains slip-n-slide set up next to the courtyard is a cinch.
The second thing I noticed about my home is the rocking chairs. If the expression “nervous as a cat in a room full of rocking chairs” is true then the poor resident house cat must live a horribly anxious life as there are no less than 20 rocking chairs where I live. I have learned that Nicaraguans love rocking chairs and I aptly postulated that this is why there are so many rocking chairs in the Miami International Airport since there are almost as many Nicaraguans in Miami as there are in Nicaragua. Actually, I just made that up, but if you meet a Nicaraguan with family living in the states it is likely that they live in Miami. (Bienvenido!) But really, rocking chairs are more practical than couches here since they are less likely to become homes for local flora and fauna. And these are not just any rocking chairs, but rocking chairs that go dangerously far back compared to the prudent stateside variety of this type of seat. So far back that each time I feel I must be taking the chair to its farthest possible backward limit. And so, when I want a cheap, oscillating, one-second thrill I set to testing the limits of rocking chairs.