Our last month has been spent in Nicaragua. Crossing over the border overland from Costa Rica was an interesting experience. Immediately we piled onto a chicken bus (as they call them in these parts) and we were off. No buying tickets separately, no fuss, just chuck your stuff on and go. They call them chicken buses as people use them to transport anything and everything including their uncooked (and still alive) dinner. They are classic US yellow school buses which I'm sure you have seen on the telly. Sadly we didn't encounter any chickens on our trip but I always enjoyed the buses. There is a really cool communal feel to the experience; people helping each other and the ticket collectors and drivers having a laugh. e are always boarding and selling stuff to eat and drink. It's like India in many ways but it happens in a completely hassle free way. The buses get used as postal services too with people putting on bags of, say, cement and paying to have them dropped in such and such a place. People throw things from windows for their friends as they go past. They really become the centre of communities in many ways.
A bus we took from a place called Tippitapa to Masaya was pimped out to the max. It had red curtains on the windows, the steering wheel and handles had red and silver striped tape all over them, furry animals hanging from roof, the the windscreen had big stickers all over it and it had a DVD playing (some extremely violent shoot em up starring the Rock) and best of all it had a massive soundsystem. At first we thought it was a passing boy racer with the biggest subwoofers in history but then we noticed it was from the film. Serious bass pressure.
The great thing about Costa Rica and Nicaragua has been having music everywhere. Reggaeton is the flavour of the day but nobody thinks twice about having a big PA system outside their shop or house blasting out tunes. We heartily approve.
We have moved around a fair bit here: had some relaxed beach time, spent time in beautiful colonial towns, climbed a Volcano on Ometepe island, taken a bee keeping course on a farm, visited cigar factories and drank a lot of excellent Nicaraguan Rum. Flor de Cana rum is now the major constituent of my luggage for coming home.
We also had some close quarters experience with a scorpion in our room at night but that's a story for another time.
We have also eaten our own body weight in rice and beans. Rice and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner all washed down with chicken, chicken and more chicken. It's made me consider how much chicken you would have to eat before bad stuff started to happen to you. Like growing a gizzard or something. We must be only a couple of fried wings away from it...
Nicaraguan people have been really friendly but it has been a bit frustrating not being able to have proper conversations. My Spanish is pretty good for getting around, buying tickets, food, booking hotel rooms and asking directions but after a few pleasantries conversation is extremely difficult. It would have been great to find out more about the people who have had some turbulent times here in recent years.
Time for one last chicken rice and beans before the off.