Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Nicaragua Round 2

For the last month of my trip I have been traveling through Nicaragua. Although I traveled through Nicaragua in 2007, I did not retain that it was so well known for cigars, baseball, and rum. I also had selective amnesia for how incredibly hot it is. Like extra-terrestrial hot, hot, hot. Sticky, sweaty, inescapable hot. In reality, it isn't much hotter than Texas I think it's just that air-conditioning is also very uncommon. So one necessary thing: the do-rag. Women & men often have bandanas or handkerchiefs that serve many purposes but mainly wiping of sweat & fanning themselves. 

If you haven't figure out already here is your warning: this entry is random.

As I have traveled from north to south you almost always see kids playing catch with gloves and pop up games with both real and makeshift fields. Above is an example of of a makeshift game almost every sunset on Ometepe Island. 

Here is the rough map of my trip: starting in Managua & doing a big boomerang back. 

Cigar factory tour

Before this tour, I guess I thought of a cigar as a big cigarette. False. It is just a bunch of rolled up leaves surrounded by another rolled up leaf. 

Here is a washing and drying station.

In each little cubby, a man was partnered with a women. The men were rolling all the cigars but the women were finishing them off with a bit of glue and doing the more intricate, detail-oriented tasks with the cigars. 

After the men rolled them they stacked them in these cases and then cranked this machine with a lot of pressure to help seal the cigar.  

Obviously this sign had little importance in the factory. One "perk" to the job is you could smoke the cigars for free while working. 

This is how the women would finish off the cigars.
Alberto the Cave Artist

Esteli, Nicaragua has a lot of attractions. Noticeably "cooler" weather, national parks, waterfalls, cigar factories, and beautiful canyons. While I was researching about Nicaragua I encountered a few blogs mentioning Alberto the cave artist. It was definitely an off the grid experience. Legend has it, that he was an alcoholic after his wife & child died. He had a really intense dream about carving one night and knew it was a message from God. Whenever he was craving alcohol he instead started carving the stone around his house. He will not take any money, but occasionally sells products (he sold us some honey while we were there.)

I met some lovely french girls who were keen for this adventure. We had to catch the only bus 6:30 a.m. to take us to his small village. Then we started hiking & asking random people where Alberto lives.

When we saw him he was about to replant an orchid plant. He walked us through a lot of his carvings and explained what they meant. Many sculptures were stories from the bible. He doesn't use pictures, they are just in his mind. 

We were on a cliff with a small walking path so taking pictures were challenging and they will never do his work justice.

This sign has the date that he started carving in 1988. He has filled 18 journals with signatures from people all over the world coming to visit him. He only speaks Spanish and is such a jolly, lovely man. If you are ever in Northern Nicaragua, I would highly recommend paying him a visit. 

Lovely Leon 

Over the years I have been to a lot of Cathedrals, but the Cathedral in Leon was different. The rooftop reminded me of a cross between a mosque and some of Gaudi's architecture in Barcelona. 

Post Card Pics

rice farming

Look closely at the momma monkey on the bottom left. She is carrying her baby on her back. Click here for monkey videos.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wedding Crashers

Papa Luch couldn't go to the wedding so I got to accompany mamá Sandra instead. The bride was marrying a boy who was not from San Pedro so they had a civil ceremony in San Pedro and they were going to have the official church wedding in his town.

In Asia they say: "same same, but different." I have always loved that phrase because as different as we may sometimes feel, there are so many inherit attributes and traditions that we all somehow follow. I had a moment like this when I first walked in to the wedding and saw all the 18 year old bridesmaids dressed in matching cortes. 

I love that there is a score board in this shot below.

This was by far I think the cutest part of the whole wedding. They had flower girls as well. But this boy walked right before the bride with the sign that translates: "Here comes the bride." When I translated the word "bride - novia" popped up first with all these other translations: girlfriend, bride, fiancee, fiancée, sweetie

One thing that was very different was the bridesmaids put on a dance after the couple was married. Click here to see the dance. The family later reassured me this was not common (but might be a newish thing.)

 Right after the ceremony finished there was a huge mob scene to get in line to give presents to the bride & groom. 

                                                                                                        I am giving my present to the bride in the top picture. More importantly, I love the picture of the random street dog that they could not get rid of trying to get lucky with food.