Sunday, September 26, 2010

At the Beach

This Saturday found us with plans to travel down to the pacific coast in order to pay a visit to the beach. We left Jubilee House around the unholy hour of 9 am, The collective volunteers and siblings Murdock piled into one of the old ambulances that serve as transportation. We had hoped to take the van, but it had just finished being fixed and the higher powers were concerned that it might break down over the hour and a half drive to the beach.

Time estimations proved to be inaccurate. It took us around four. The major cause of this was a slight mechanical failure. A small black tube connecting the radiator to the engine decided that it was meant for better things and burst lose in a desperate bid for freedom.
At the time we were winding up a mountain road, having just come around a sharp turn. There was a sharp noise, like a popping tired, smoke from under the hood, and the car rudely stopped moving. We found ourselves stranded in the middle lane.

Unfortunately the emergency brake decided to follow suit, and fell apart as Matt attempted to use it. Forcing Matt to spend the entire debacle with his foot squarely on the break. After a few harrowing minutes Matt negotiated the car down the hill and out of the middle of the road. We ended up next to the hard turn. So that oncoming cars would notice and avoid hitting our crippled car, we stationed people and reflective orange triangles behind us.

One of the nice things about Nica's is that they look out for those around them. A passing motorcyclist, who happened to own a small toolbox, stopped when he saw our distressed vehicle and offered his assistance in reattaching the tube. The tube proved to be more stubborn than anticipated, and refused to reconnect, rudely opposing the various efforts of Daniel, the awesome strength of Felicia, and our helpful Nicaraguan friend.

Rojelio, the JHC's head of construction and savior of stranded gringos, arrived on the scene after an hour. With his own toolbox. In five minutes, the tube was reattached, the car was starting. Which just shows that you can do just about anything song long as you have the right tool.
After that we made good time, or tried too. The whole "tube debacle" took three or so hours out of our beach time, and we were eager to salvage the somewhat disheartening day. We progressed for awhile, until it was revealed that the "people who actually knew where we were going" were not paying attention, and those who were ignorant assumed that we were on track. The question eventually came up, and when it was discovered, we quickly stopped and asked directions. As it turns out, we had overshot the turn.

Making it back to the turn we got our first glimpse of hope: breaks in the distant clouds, sky outside of the fog that had clung to us since the car stopped. Transferring to a road that was lacking in maintenance, we descended from the mountains and headed to the beach. Rattling in our seats, The Murdock boys decided to instigate a sing along. We passed through a beach side town with half the car singing Barenaked Ladies' songs, to the bemusement of the locals.
We quickly ran out of common music, but we're saved from a prolonged concert by our arrival at the beach. Must like mating birds, the cabana workers swooped at our car, calling out reasons why they were above the rest of the competition. Promises of great restaurants, and surfing lessons and the like. I am curious how similar the cabana we stayed at is to the others offered up at us. They appeared to be relatively similar: A few hammocks, thatched roofs, a bar of sorts.

We ordered lunch and disappeared into the ocean. The water was welcoming and warm, a nice shield from the drizzling mist. After making up for our hours of immobility, we trudged back to shore and into the cabana. Finding it filled with people hawking their various sea shell turtles and shark's teeth necklace. It was like being canvased by a souvenir store. Coury bought some caramelized papaya. It's been said that papaya is somewhat of a hit or miss fruit, regardless of personal opinion, the papaya was thrown out when it was found that no one could stomach the 5 Cordoba treat.

We sat and talked for awhile, eagerly anticipating lunch. Eventually our orders came through and our food finally arrived. Hearing that the seafood was excellent, Kim ordered a lobster plate, which at 170 Cordobas (around 8 dollars) was probably the least expensive lobtser I've witnessed. Much smaller than their beefy cousins in the north, the local lobsters look more like really big crayfish than little lobsters.
While not as good as Bruno beach food, lunch was enjoyed by all and after,we celebrated the intermittent sunlight and took a walk down the beach. Upon our return we found that some of the children had ambushed Coury, who had stayed behind to doze in the hammock and watch our stuff, and he had now purchased a a lipstick wearing turtle and an armadillo glue-gunned out of countless sea shells.

We stayed long enough to break the weird "not Frisbee" throwing hoop thing, enjoy the waves, and showcase Daniel's affinity for football. After a few more hours we packed up and head back JHC, leaving with the sun. We skirted the mountains, hoping to stress the car less and instead made friends with a myriad of potholes. Luckily we made it back with out any break downs, and with relatively clear weather.
Despite the earlier setbacks, and lackluster weather (one cannot complain to much as we are approaching the peak of the rainy season), it was a fun day. Eventually it cleared up and even while it was raining we enjoyed ourselves at the beach. Going to the beach in Nicaragua is not like going to Edisto or Pensacola, the beach front is more developed and there is the need to keep someone with your bags at all times, but it still had it's charms. The staff facilitating our laziness, and bringing us lunch while we lounged under the cabana was definitely one of them.

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