It never fails that when I travel I run into angels. No, not the kind with wings and white robes, but those people who do something nice, something that you really needed, often without even knowing it. Today I ran into a couple.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the first few days of travel are often the hardest. It’s hard to get your bearings in a new place. You often get ripped off while you figure out how things work and that always makes a place feel less than welcoming. For me it also takes a bit before I realize that I can do whatever I want that day and that ideas of what I “should” do are someone else’s agenda not my own.
Rather than heading to Ometepe I decided to take today to get some cash, walk around and just explore, even though that meant exploring Rivas, a place not high on the list of excellent places to see according to most of the books. The 3 mile walk there was interesting and fairly nice and gave me plenty of time to hone my “ignore” practice when dealing with guys yelling “hey baby” at me. It’s good to have that down since 8 out of every 10 guys yell… frankly the rates may be higher than that. Such a odd change from Seattle and something I never got when riding Bob in Baja. In Seattle Bob’s a dude magnet, in foreign countries a deterrent. Funny that.
I eventually found the cash machine and while waiting outside (you don’t go in to the little booth to wait, each person goes in alone) an older woman came by and asked where I was from. Surprised at how much easier it is to talk to people already, and especially out of the tourist areas where people are happy to see you we chatted for a few seconds and she shook my hand and welcomed me to Nicaragua. While she didn’t know it, she was my first angel. Just having that positive interaction was so helpful and indeed so welcoming.
My next angel came just after telling me the cash machine was broken. I asked if there were other options in town and he pointed towards down several blocks to what was apparently another machine. He told me it only took visa cards and I told him I had one. He headed that direction and I followed behind, thinking that we both were going to get cash. When he got there I realized that his card was not visa, he was simply taking me to the other machine. It’s incredible how meaningful these little interactions are. Compassion is truly a universal language.
Around the market
Buoyed up by my recent success I walked around the market, asking if I could take pictures and just enjoying the weird world that is an open market in Nicaragua. I eventually passed a store selling many things, mattresses, furniture and of course motorcycles. Again I went in and asked if I could take a picture (I WANT one of these!) and the salesman said yes. I pulled out my iPhone after taking the picture and showed him a picture of Bob. He asked about the engine size and I told him. Yes, that’s right, I had a conversation about motorcycle engine size in a small town in Nicaragua in a language I don’t speak. Win!
I can has?
I had planned on taking a cab back to the Hotel California but knew I’d have to argue about a price for quite some time to pay what I should and it just didn’t seem worth it so I walked back, getting a bit lost once I got to San Jorge and increasing my walk by at least a mile. After a brief nap I headed down to the dock to the restaurant from last night and snapped a few more pictures. It’s rained ever so slightly all day and the wind on the lake was intense. Hopefully it’ll calm down a bit before I hop on a boat tomorrow!