On Wednesday our boss took my friend Darryl and I out to learn how to drive stick shift. Why? Because we were renting a truck to go up to the mountains with the group and someone else needed to drive. So, Thursday afternoon we got all 15 of us together and drove to the mountains with two pick up trucks. How to drive in Nicaragua: watch out for dogs, watch out for chickens, watch out for pigs, watch out for cows, watch out for horses, watch out for small children, watch out for potholes, watch out for motorcycles, watch out for bikes, don't drive too fast on shitty roads or you will get a flat tire and also break a window. I don't want to harp too much on the drive there, but really, driving in this country is pretty amazing/terrifying/difficult. And it was fun.
The first place we went to was FREEZING. At least for Nicaraguan standards. I was shivering (it was probably only like 60 degrees or more, but still, it felt pretty awful). But it was beautiful...the food was delicious...and the cabins were...rustic. I saw more giant spiders than I would prefer to see ever again. There was, however, BELIEVE IT OR NOT, hot water! Taking a hot shower when you're cold is such a luxury. In Leon, it's hardly necessary, but in the mountains, I was extremely grateful for the infamous electrocuting death showers. For those of you who do not know, these are showers with electric shower heads that are extremely dangerous because water and electricity obviously do not mix well. And furthermore, for those of you who do not know, I succeeded in electrocuting myself in one during my last trip to Nicaragua. Oops.
Our first full day there we took a hike up this mountain where this crazy dude resides. He carved out the mountainside with gorgeous artwork (his culture--he calls it). He said he wanted to see the whole world so that no one could ever tell him a lie. I thought that might have been the coolest thing I've ever heard in my life. As we left, he gave us three parting gifts carved out of rock: a turtle, a tucan, and a dolphin.
Next we went to a freakin' waterfall. And swam in it. It was really hard to top that. But then the next day we went to ANOTHER waterfall! And they were both gorgeous! And swimming in them both was freezing, but it made the air feel a lot warmer. Swimming underneath a waterfall is quite the experience. I felt like someone was throwing rocks on me.
The food in the mountains was incredible. We had homemade cheese and all sorts of different things that we don't usually eat in Leon. They had lemon grass tea, which was absolutely delicious, and they sell some of that here in the city so I will have to pick some up before I leave. Everything kind of tasted like the earth but in a good way.
Unfortunately, one of our friends was robbed when we were hiking. He left the window open and some local kids grabbed his money and some playing cards. That's where they went wrong. In a town that small, it's easy to find the culprit. So the ranch owner called the police, the local kids saw the cops, got scared, and gave everything back. Thank goodness! That was almost a big bummer in the trip, but it had a happy ending sort of. Oh, and we picked up some hitch hikers along the way and they came with us to the next place.
After that, we took a trip to a different area of the mountains. We stayed at a different ranch owned by two Germans. The food there was even more incredible! I couldn't have imagined such delicious things. We even had a typical German meal (sausage, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and mustard). More homemade cheese. And local meat. And by local, I mean that I probably saw the cow I ate for dinner.
At this ranch, we did a lot more hanging out. We had a bonfire and the ranch owner surprised us with pointy sticks for... marshmallows!! So that night we drank and ate and talked. That night was so pleasant.
The next day we knew we wanted to go hiking or horseback riding. As I have never been horseback riding, I chose to do that. Man, was it fun! At first it felt really unnatural and I was kind of terrified, but as the ride went on (it was nearly two hours around the mountain), I began to get a feel for the horse. I was riding a 25 year old horse, which is super old, and his bones were sticking out, so I kind of thought he was going to die at first when I got on him. I was really nervous about overworking him, but the incredible thing was that he really wanted to run! The owner said he always had that personality...never wanted to be last in a line of horses. And he never really was. The cool thing was the control I had over him. I would just lean forward a tiny bit, lift my butt slightly off him, and squeeze my thighs together, and off we ran! I was surprised at how well he responded to my movements. I honestly felt as if I was one with the horse. His name was Rojo (Red) but I nicknamed him Skeletor.
And that was pretty much the weekend trip in a nutshell. I mean, there's so much to be said about the trip there and back itself, but I can't really even put into words what a bonding experience it was for all of us. It was just a great time, and I was so happy to have had that experience with such amazing people. My clothes were filthy when we got back, though, as I only brought two outfits with me for a four day trip (travel light...you'll be glad you did). I was happy to be home in Leon, but also instantly stressed when we returned to the loudness of the city.
And that brings me to one final point. Work. Man, it is stressful sometimes. I know I blog about all these awesome things and it seems like work can never be work here, but it is. We play hard, work harder. Today absolutely blew. I think I'm having a hard time communicating with one of the lawyers I'm supposed to be working with, who is based out of the states right now. I don't know why, and I honestly think it is because we do not know each other and we are trying to do this stressful work without being able to have a beer and a smoke together. I also am picking up the slack since the Nicaraguan lawyer was fired, so I'm reading all these laws in Spanish and trying to understand a civil law system, which I just frankly don't really know anything about. So, yeah, today blew.
And I realize this has been a very long post, so if you're still reading, I thank you for sticking around, and I hope you enjoyed reading about the sweet time I'm having! Hopefully more adventures to come next weekend! Sending all my love to the states...(well, some of it that doesn't stay here in Nicaragua)!