May 5, 07
After two & a half weeks of smoothly paved roads (well, other than some sections of Queens), hot showers, and the glorious absence of ants, I'm back in Nicaragua. Man, I really missed it! The day after I got back I went to see a dermatologist in Managua about a small but relatively new mole on my throat. He peered at it intently and then announced it would be a good idea to remove it for a biopsy (everyone's favorite word). So right then and there he had me up on the table, jabbed some anesthetic into my neck, and began cutting. I can't really say it hurt, but it was an odd sensation. I asked if I'd have a scar, to which he replied, "Do you want one?" "Why not?" I said. "It would be 'salvaje' (really cool)." It was all over in about half an hour. I go back in a week to have the stitches out, but it'll be two weeks before the biopsy results are back. Since he didn't appear unduly concerned, I've elected not to be either.
The trip back to Buenos Aires went well until we were about 40 minutes north of town and the truck (Pat had borrowed Edwin's pickup) ceased moving forward. It was around 7pm, just after dark. We coasted onto the shoulder and Pat got out to look under the hood. I think we probably had the hood up for at least twenty minutes and while dozens of vehicles passed us, not one stopped. Coming from Alaska where it's more unusual if someone doesn't stop, this was a bit disturbing. When I told Reyna about it later (we called Edwin and he borrowed another truck and arrived in about an hour with the cavalry: Reyna, the girls, and Emer, the boy next door), she said it was because everyone knew that was the most common ruse for highway robbery—you pull over to help someone supposedly in need and hey presto, they steal your car and everything else. She went on to say we were lucky no one noticed we were Gringos or the situation might have become dire… We eventually had to tow the truck back, and should know in a few days what the problem is and how many appendages will be required to fix it. (Update: quite a few things, apparently, need replacing, to the tune of $600. Edwin says that's pretty much all parts; the labor should come in around $50…)
On my second day home we rode our bikes out to see the house—with all the windows and the door installed. The work was done a few days before I returned, and Pat had told me I would like it. He was wrong. I love it. The wood is so gorgeous, rich and heavy, full of texture and patterns. The door, which I'd just done a rough (very rough) sketch of, came out even better than I'd imagined. It's a 'Dutch door", allowing us to open it all the way or just the bottom half. All we need now is the hardware—locks, door handle, and a system for raising the lower half of the living room windows, and we're set.
A couple days on and we were back out there scrubbing the walls of several years' accumulation of mold, mildew, and the remnants of insects birthing habitats. This would've been fairly grueling work were we not assisted by no less than nine neighborhood kids, ranging in age from three to thirteen. The three year old accomplished much by running between our legs imitating some sort of spastic cicada until I gently (OK, not so gently) lifted him by an arm and ankle and helped him fly outside. Unfortunately he enjoyed this action and pestered me for a repeat until I was forced to use the ultimate threat, "Ask me once more and you are banned from the property for a whole day." Very effective when your house is THE place to be. By the mid-afternoon the place was looking paint-ready, so we handed out the wages and headed to town for more supplies.
Did I mention already that Reyna & Edwin purchased a piglet? Probably not as I only just learned about it prior to my trip, although it turned out they had already had it for a couple weeks. (It was actually Pat who discovered the wee beastie in a pen behind their house.) When I confronted Reyna, "I hear you have a chanchito (piglet)", she said, with a remarkably straight face, "No we don't." "But Pat saw it! It's just over there, in a pen." "Oh, that pig. Well, yes, we have that pig." "Why didn't you tell me? I love piglets. He's so cute, and…" "Ok, this is exactly why I didn't tell you about the pig, because I knew you'd react like this and the fact is we bought the pig for Milagro's belated christening in June. We're going to eat the pig. I don't want you getting attached to the main course." (I may be paraphrasing a bit in the translation, but this is damn close to accurate, and a bit disconcerting that she has me sussed in so short a time…) I pouted for a few minutes before determining that this party won't occur until after we're gone, thus sparing me having to partake of the pig, and therefore allowing me to fraternize with it more or less guilt-free. And in fact, here it is several weeks later, the chanchito has grown a bit, and has the run of the place, and now Pat has grown very fond of it, convinced it is a "special" pig and has gone so far as to offer to buy its freedom in exchange for another, less intriguing swine. Since Edwin and Reyna assumed he was joking, we haven't gotten an answer yet. I will photograph Pig tomorrow (our one concession to E & R: we haven't named the critter. Yet.)
I think we must be really starved for animal love because in addition to courting Pig, we've also been assiduously wooing three teenaged chickens from across the street. Chickens here have the run of the country until their owners decide it's time for soup, and often wander into neighboring yards in search of grub. These three, Thelma (my favorite), Louise, and Buddy, actually come when called and will eat whatever goodies we toss down mere inches from our feet. Thelma, whom I like to believe recognizes our growing bond, will eat her fill (she prefers my overpriced American-style granola), then drop into roost position next to my rocking chair on the porch and remain there, seemingly contented, for ages. She kind of looks like a chicken version of our deceased cat Nitza, which may account for the warm fuzzy feelings she brings out in me.
On a final note about local fauna, last night were forced to euthanize the poor rat (the cute kind) that found itself caught in Reinaldo's evil snap trap. He reset it later, but we sprang it, and this morning I found another wee beastie in the more humane cage trap. Reinaldo had gone to have breakfast, so Pat grabbed the trap and released the rat into the yard on its own recogniscence and a vow to hunt in someone else's kitchen. It would be much easier if Reinaldo would just consent to a cat…