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Thread: A bad day turned good...

  1. #1
    TRN Surgeon General El Doc's Avatar
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    May 2008
    La Gran Nada, Departamento Granada
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    Smile A bad day turned good...

    It had already been a pretty bad week. It started slow, which always makes me think the economic crisis has finally caught up with my business, but by Wednesday there was a flood of work and all of it marked URGENT. By Thursday afternoon I had cleared out the inbox and was planning an early escape Friday to get out on the lake. I was exhausted after back to back late night marathons squeezing 5 days of work into 2, cranking out the research reports for BigPharma and the evil medical insurance industry, and I felt I deserved a little sailing time.

    On Friday morning, I cranked out the last of my work right around 9:30 a.m. In the middle of proofreading, the ceiling fan whirled to an ominous halt. The house and the barrio was peacefully silent. Nothing but the sound of the chancho next door doing whatever it is that pigs do. I actually enjoy the break from the neighborhood stereos blasting Reggeton all day. Now power outages in Granada are a common occurrence, but they rarely last more than an hour and I'd still have plenty of time to finish my proofreading and send in the finished product before heading out. By 11:00 it was clear that there wasn't going to be any power to my house anytime soon. Refusing to let this ruin my day or my plans, I packed up the laptop and hopped on the bike and cheerfully headed off to one of my several backup sites. You see, the power only tends to go off in one section of town so if you know people or establishments on the other end of the pueblito, you can always get an email off. Up to a friend's house near hospital viejo, no power. Out to Villa Sandino, no power. Now I'm getting frustrated but not angry. I still had plenty of time and the weather was nice, so I was just thinking about the tranquil day that awaited. Sure the infrastructure sucks here, but that's why the cost of living is so low!

    Now for a plug. Cyber Alhambra is located on Calle La Libertad a half block west of the park. When the power went out, all they lost was the AC (which is always too cold anyways). They had a generator going and their DSL connection is impervious to power outages, unlike anyone with a cable connection. I was able to hook up lickety split with my own laptop over their WiFi connection, send off my emails, tell a few clients I was too drowned in work to take any more jobs that day, and I was out the door. 8 cords well spent. If you need to check your email in Granada, Cyber Alhambra is the place. If you feel heat stroke coming on, it's also the place. They leave that AC on full blast to the point that the girls working there have to wear sweaters. If you hung a side of beef from the ceiling, it would still be good a month later.

    Now off to Western Union to pick up a wire transfer. My debit card was cloned by some yahoos in Russia a few weeks back and I'm still waiting for a replacement, so I have to have my money wired to me. I needed cash to for ice and sodas and some munchies for the boat. My plan was to spend the night anchored out east of Granada near Chontales and then sail back in on Saturday. No power, no Western Union. Figures. The bars all have generators, but Western Union doesn't feel the need. "Hasta que regresa la luz" they told me. Fair enough. Not much we can do about acts of God or Union Fenosa. Midday turned into afternoon turned into "I guess I won't be going out today". Howard and his wife stopped by and we exchanged pleasantries while longing for the ceiling fans. I was trying to keep a positive attitude even though my plans were shot to hell. If you get mad every time things don't go according to plan in Nicaragua, you're gonna end walking into a bank, internet service provider, electric company, or weatherman's house and shooting up the place. Better to throw out your watch and use a calendar instead.

    4:30 rolls around and the ceiling fans kicked back in. The internet clicked to life and all was back to normal. I hopped on the bike and headed to Western Union. They don't close until 5:30 so there was still plenty of time. I could stock up the boat and head out around 6 a.m. and have a really good day. The armed guard inside sprawled out on two plastic chairs with the shotgun laying on his chest was not a good sign. "Hasta mañana" he grunted. But the lights are back on! WTF? Well, apparently they had made up their minds that the lights weren't going to come back on so they threw an impromptu luncheon in the office. There will be no money distributed today, but I was welcome to an empanada! The girls at Western Union are very nice and they've gotten to know me over the past couple weeks. I passed on the empanada. I needed a gin and tonic at this point. No money, no ice, no Sandwitch de Todito from Garden Cafe or sodas for the trip, but Zoom Bar has Bombay Sapphire Gin and plenty of ice.

    I still had all day Saturday to myself. I'd just go sailing down to Asese, throw out the anchor and do a little swimming in the clean water on that side of the penninsula and then back into port. Not gonna get mad; stiff upper lip and all that. Friday night with the old lady and a couple liters of Toña and some telenovelas. Not gonna get mad. In the words of Saint Jimmy (Peace Be Upon Him), I'm just glad I don't live in a trailer.

    Saturday morning at 9 and the line outside the Western Union looked like free dinner being handed out at Caritas Feliz. In a country that lives on remittances from family up north, a day without Western Union backs the whole system up. The line literally went around the corner and up the block. So much for getting out by 10. Just gonna grin and bear it. Turn on the iPod and enjoy the ride. When I finally got into the place, it looked like that scene after the Battle of Gettysburg in Gone With the Wind. People on the floor looking like they needed an IV, kids jumping and screaming with their exhausted mothers not even paying attention anymore. It smelled like a refugee camp. No fans, no ventilation and it was Granada hot. A little kid next to me was sneezing and coughing into his hands and then making a point of touching everyone in our row. Climbing over my legs, rubbing his snot covered fingers on my jeans. His mother apparently had no interest in controlling him anymore, she had stood in the same line we all had, and now two days of tension had finally come to a head. I took my headphones off and glared at him. "Hey kid. Do you know me?" I asked in a friendly but obviously annoyed way. "No," he said with a confused look. "Then don't touch me," I replied. Everyone else in the row just kind of grinned and mom finally took control of her little disease vector. If I'm dead in a few days, you know where I got the swine flu.

    The computers were down at the Western Union. They were reduced to taking down all our information and then calling it in. Hey, at least they were putting in the extra effort. I asked the girl behind the bullet-proof glass if they were going to have to go back to using a telegraph. She didn't get it."Telégrafo," I said while making a motion with my hand like I was tapping out a message and going "beep beep beep." Still nothing. Never mind. I guess I'm older than I thought.

    What is normally a 10 minute trip to the telegraph office turned into 3 hours. Noon. The sun was blazing overhead. Still enough time to get to Asese and make it back by dark. Ice, a couple Toñas, a sandwich de todito and a six pack of Coke.

    I keep the boat on an isleta here near Granada. I could keep it at Marina Cocibolca but there's no way to lock the cabin which is where I would normally keep the outboard when not in use. I know my outboard would be gone within a fortnight at the marina and besides, there are too many rocks over at Asese and the guy who takes care of the boat for me used to work for the local sailing school so he knows how to rig the boat. The school recently closed down and he was out of work, so I took him on for a relatively simple job and I pay him what he was making full-time at the school. Simple enough, right? All he has to do is keep my outboard in his house and have the boat rigged for me when I want to go sailing. He picks me up in a little wooden panga that he rows by hand as fast as a small outboard and takes me to his isleta. The panga is one step above a dugout canoe. It's made of boards but they're very rough boards. They look like they were milled with a handsaw. Kids as young as 5 can be seen rowing these things around the isletas. It's how they get around, get to school, pick up their girlfriend for a little smooching. They use a strange rowing technique whereby they rotate the oars, left then right in a kind of circular motion. Looks almost like a crankshaft in motion, but it seems to work for them.

    My cuidador's cellphone took a drink last week so I have to contact him through a cousin who lives on the dry side. He got in touch with my cuidador/boatmaster and said he'd pick me up at Cabaña Amarilla in "media hora." Now for the uninitiated, you have to understand something about Nicaragua and units of time. The same way they use varas and manzanas to measure surface area, they have their own measure of time. It's only confusing because they use the same words we do but have different definitions for them. "Media hora" means something between 1 and 2 hours, "ahorita" means in a few hours, and mañana, which means the day after today in the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, means "not today" in Nicaragua. Could be any day, just not this one. I haven't figured out what "diez minutos" means, but it's nothing resembling 600 seconds.

    An hour and a half later and no pangita. It was starting to drizzle, which I figured would pass soon (more on that later) and I was running out of daylight. Enough time for a few tacks out on the lake towards the pier at Granada and then back into port. Wasn't what I had planned, but a little sailing is better than no sailing. I paid 50 cords to one of the tourist panga drivers for the 3 minuted trip out to my cuidador's isleta. There he was, kicked back in his chair watching TV. The "uh oh" look on his face was priceless. The mast was still off the boat as we had taken it down the week before to motor around inside the isetas (too many trees and power lines to make it through with the mast up). Nothing had been rigged and he hadn't bought the gasoline I paid him for 3 days ago. He hopped into the boat and started wiping it down with an old t-shirt. "Forget the cleaning, let's get this thing rigged while I still have some daylight left. The rain will wash everything off anyway." He didn't utter a word, just got hopping on the rigging. It took a precious hour to rig everything and get her ready to sail. I was going to chew him out since this is all I paid him for, but not now because I could chew him out in dark. Finding my way back into the isletas is best done in daylight. I didn't notice that the drizzle hadn't fizzled out yet. Two hours of drizzle isn't what I've come to expect, but under the mango trees in this sheltered cove it was a tranquil and peaceful as an oil painting by Monet.

    Afternoons in Granada have followed a typical pattern since the rainy season started. A bright sunny and humid day is topped off by clouds that seem to follow the sun. By late afternoon, a squall line comes in carrying a vicious wind and a torrential downpour. This usually lasts anywhere from 15-30 minutes and it's very pleasant afterwards. You can tell it's going to end when you see the holes in the clouds to the east. That's the typical pattern. It had been drizzling for a few hours now and I didn't notice that it wasn't following the typical pattern. I wanted to RELAX! I had to get out there today because it was the only day I had left. Screw it. I'm going.

    That decision was the one SNAFU this week that I can blame on nobody but myself. A bad day was about to get a whole lot worse.

    "Un Estado que no se rigiera según la justicia se reduciría a una gran banda de ladrones." --San Agustín

  2. #2

    Default Re: A bad day turned good...

    good stuff!

  3. #3
    Pinolero De Cepa!! FisherCigarman's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    El Tuma-La Dalia/Estelii, Nicaragua

    Default Re: A bad day turned good...

    Excellent read!!
    keep 'em coming.

  4. #4
    Fightin Irish JackMcG's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Jinotepe, Carazo.... Nicaragua & OCMD

    Default Re: A bad day turned good...

    Don't be a JPJW and leave us hanging now!

    And have you ever used MoneyGram?
    "If you ain't bleeding, you ain't working!"

  5. #5

    Default Re: A bad day turned good...

    Quote Originally Posted by JackMcG View Post
    Don't be a JPJW and leave us hanging now!

    And have you ever used MoneyGram?
    I have used both Western Union and Moneygram, Moneygram for me was the best because they can send it to Banpro banks. This seems safer than many of the western unions around here, the western union at the pali 2 blocks from my house was robbed at AK Gunpoint.

  6. #6
    TRN's fiesty redhead catahoula fan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Granada, Nicaragua

    Default Re: A bad day turned good...

    Good stuff, hon. I know how this ends but I'm liking the longer version much better.
    "Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing."

  7. #7

    Default Re: A bad day turned good...

    Quote Originally Posted by catahoula fan View Post
    Good stuff, hon. I know how this ends but I'm liking the longer version much better.
    did he find the last remaining shark in the lake and swim back to shore with one less leg?!

  8. #8
    House SOB Little Corn Tom's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    Pompano Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: A bad day turned good...

    One of the best posts ever on this site.

    Last edited by Little Corn Tom; 08-30-2009 at 02:28 PM.
    Life's different here ... It's a whole 'nother pace.

  9. #9

    Default Re: A bad day turned good...

  10. #10
    Para aquí para acá Jonh's Avatar
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    Jan 2007
    La Florida
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    Default Re: A bad day turned good...

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