Friday, July 10, 2009

Oh, León

I have a bit of bad news to start this post: my red journal has been stolen. Why someone would want my journal I do not know, but alas, it is no longer with me. I´m heartbroken, but doing my best to re-write as much as possible.

And on to more positive news; I have been keeping myself plenty busy this past week in León with Canada Day parties, Michael Jackson dance parties, new friends, momones, chocolate milk in bags, movies at the cinema, fritangas, comedores, making no-bake cookies, getting to know the market, spanish lessons, the art museum, the Ruben Darío museum, la liberación del fortín, gambling and much more (including hanging out at my wonderful hostel, Colibrí).

Here are the details:
-Canada Day Parties- I´ve done a few hikes with the Quetzaltrekker kids now and have made pretty good friends with them. One night we had a "party" for Canada Day, which mostly means we drank Toña and sang "Oh, Canada" a few too many times in the kitchen of their house.
-Michael Jackson Dance Parties- Since finding out about his death on the telivision in a Managua hostel I have yet to go more than about 30 minutes outside of my room without hearing one of his songs being played (Black or White seems to be the most popular song), and it frequently turns into a dance party-especially when Quetzaltrekkers are involved
-New Friends- I´m not sure if I´m really allowed to say anything about this, but I met a guy who writes for one of the guide book companies, and we had a really good time hanging out in the city together. We watched live music at La Olla Quemada where we also did some serious people watching, went gambling (which you´ll hear more about later), and ate tons of watermelon.
-Momones- For those of you who love lychee fruits, you should be jealous of these! They´re round fruits just smaller than a ping pong ball with a slightly rough, hard, green skin. After you break the skin off there is a slimy, milky colored flesh around a huge white pit. You just pop the in your mouth and do your best to chew the meat of the fruit off. They have a fruit sorbet sort of flavor and a huge bag of them, still on the stems costs $10 córdoba, or 50 cents US.
-Chocolate Milk in Bags- You can get basically any drink in a bag here, but cacao may be my favorite. The drink is made from a mixture of milk and water, tons of sugar, and a paste of rice, cacao, and cinnamon. It´s a but sludgy or grainy and delicious!
-Movies at the Cinema- I´ve seen Up (una aventura en altura) and Era de Hielo 3 (Ice Age) at the movie theater here for about $2.50US each. I loved the movie Up, and am not ashamed to admit that I cried a time or two. And Ice Age was super entertaining because of the crowd. I saw it just a couple days after it had come out and on a sunday, so needless to say, the theater was packed. It was hilarious to hear everyone ooohh and aaahh; and the little boy behing me was crying because he was terrified of the dinosaur, but an older boy (still only about 6) was tring to explain that everyone was going to be okay and the dinosaur wouldn´t hurt him.
-Fritangas- I don´t know if I´ve explained what these are yet, so here goes... They´re huge grills and tables of food that get set up in the evening and run pretty late into the night. They grill chicken and beef and have tons of other food prepared that they heat up when you order it (like taquitos, papas rellenas-fried balls of chunky mashed potatoes with cheese inside, fried bananas, fried cheese, other fried things, gallo pinto) and of course everything served with the typical cabbage salad if you want. My favorite fritanga in town is behing the cathedral and that´s what we call it, Cathedral. The women who work it call absolutely everyone niña or niño. I love it!
-Comedores- A comedor is kind of like a latin cafeteria. The huge metal warming tray things on wheeles, full of amazing Nica dishes! Yu just go down the line and ask for whatever looks good, pick up your drink and silverware, and pay. My favorite comedor here is "El Buen Gusto" where the beans & rice, steamed chicken (with a sauce that i´m pretty sure is just like condensed cram of something soup with hot chilies) avocado/egg salad, refresco de guava rock my world!
-Making No-Bake Cookies- Being the budget traveler I am, I was too cheap to tip the Quetzaltrekkers, but wanted to thank them somehow. And seeing as how hostels in this part of the world don´t let guests use ovens because of the high cost of gas I went in search of suprisingly easy no-bake cookies. They pretty much consist of sugar, butter, milk, and quick-oats. I did one batch with bananas & rasins, and the others were chocolate (I just mixed that paste they use for the cacao drink into the liquid part of the cookie when it was on the stove). They went over pretty well
-Getting to Know the Market- Best market story: I went to buy the little shampoo packets I always use, and found a little stall that had the kinds I like, but couldn´t get the guys attention. He was talking to his buddy and when he finally realized I was there, he knocked some stuff over and almost tripped. His friend told me that I had suprised him and he was just nervous to be talking to a pretty girl. Basically, he just kept knocking stuff over and whatnot the whole time he was getting stuff for me and the friend kept laughing at hime and tellimg me how nervous I made him. Too funny! I also love the cheese stalls at the market and always get samples before I buy it (partly just because I can), and the fruits and veggies are set up in beautiful displays.
-Spanish Lessons- Iliam is my teacher and she´s kicking my ass! I take 2 hours of private lessons every day, and we´re doing tons of subjunctive and discurso indirecto. For homework I have fill-in-the-blank sroties, verb conjugations, I write childern´s stories and prepare little presentations for her, and tons of other things. I really enjoy her company, and am so glad I decided to study.
-The Art Museum- Probably the best selection of artwork I have seen in one place on this trip (minus the print studios in Oaxaca). And the buildings themselves are absolutely beautiful. There are 2 buildings across the street from eachother, each with huge patio courtyards with tons of green grass, flowers, and fountains, big rooms, hugh doorways with enormous wood-beam frames, and dark red shudders on all the windows.
-The Ruben Darío Museum- The kind of museum with chairs and lamps that say "Ruben Darío sat in this char and used this lamp"...
-La Liberación del Fortín- This was a big parade to celebrate the 30 year aniversary of the Liberación del Fortín, when an old fort that had been occupied and abandoned many times was taken back over with the Sandanista Revolution. There were tons of people marching with music, red and black flags, and way too much that I didn´t understand.
-Gambling- We went to "Salón Estrella" to play the slot machines, and do it just to say that we did it. We were laughing about betting $10 córdobas, which is a nickel. But we agreed that at home we would have really been doing penny slots, so we were big-spenders. We made just enough money to keep going for about 45 minutes, but the best part was the swinging doors, anilal hides and skulls on the walls.

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