August 2, 2005

Mi favorito juego

My favorite game to play here is “How Many Times in One Month Can a Gringa Go Back and Forth Between Hormiguerro and Siuna While Still Getting Data from Outlying Communities”. Each week I have to change a little bit of American money in order to pay our guides ($6/day) and our horses, or bestias ($3 each/day). Somehow during my week-long Doing Nothing In Siuna Week, I never managed to find a place that was either a)open, or b)able to change a $50 bill. And so Monday morning I had to catch the truck out to Hormiguerro without any money to pay my weeks worth of “staff” with plans to return mid week and pay the guides the second half of the week.
Monday we went out to Consuelo, just Carlos and myself (Cristobal went defunct when he learned he wasn’t getting paid since he’s a student. Crappy), with our guide. This, certainly, has been the most intense ride out to any community thus far, which is saying a lot. Not just hillsides of mud, but steep mountains of mud for the horses to slip down. Three rivers to cross that were deep enough that just the very tip of the horses backs were out of the water. My horse, of course, stopped in the middle of one. All the spurring, whip cracking, and prodding, squeezing, yelling wouldn’t make her budge, so I had to jump off into the river, hold my backpack above my head and drag her to the other side with me. After the day of work, we walked from our guide’s house back to a building (couldn’t determine if it was a monastery or an empty health outpost. Could be both, I guess). That’s when the sole of one of my boots (the ones that were sprouting funguses) fell off. And then I got stuck in mud to my thighs. Tee hee! One less thing I have to carry home with me. They’ve served me well; I got them almost ten years ago when I went to Scotland. Always good to give the locals something to laugh at.
As I was walking on horseback between the fincas, looking out over the view, I saw trash in the mud, and cow shit if I looked down, but if I looked up I saw butterflies migrating (there are thousands, it’s really cool), amazing clouds and coconut trees and parrots and rainforest vines. So I decided to look up and imagine everything sparkling and new and pristine, pretend that I was a princess, walking through my kingdom on my fair white steed (fleabitten grey, sunburnt nag). Then I remembered the quote from Monty Python’s In Search of the Holy Grail:

“How’d you know he was King?”
“’e ‘asn’t got shit all over ‘im”

and decided, therefore, since I had shit all over myself, that I couldn’t be Princess afterall.
We stayed in Consuelo at the Monastery/Health post in our hammocks, which was surprisingly nice—No bugs because they (the bugs) don’t know to come there to chow on people since people usually don’t live there. Also, no animals there to attract bugs. The sound of the rushing river nearby was lovely too. This morning, we rode our horses through the rivers, mud (sometimes a half mile at a time) back to Torno, and I continued to Hormiguerro on horseback from whence I walked to Siuna (20 km). Had a drunk man give me a ride on his horse until I realized he wasn’t even GOING to Siuna, he was just giving me a ride to “keep me company”. He started asking me if I was married (I told him yes, and showed him the ring Dad gave me that I wore on purpose in case this exact situation arose), and telling me he loved me and that’s when I slipped off the horse, and profusely insisted that I was strong, didn’t need a ride, asked him to return to his finca, seriously. No, seriously, señor! He eventually left, insisting he was respectful, that he just felt sorry for me and wanted to show me that Nicaraguans take care of foreigners. I assured him I appreciated the gesture and, playing his own game, that I felt sorry for him missing a day of work on his finca. I walked 15 km and then got a lift on the back of a pickup truck for the last five. Changed my dollars for cordobas, and am now resting. (internet is closed, hence this message comes several days/over a week late).

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