Wanderlust Remedy

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Month: April, 2012

Planting Seeds

Maybe I didn’t fight hard enough.  I gave up too easily.  I could’ve been like Francisco Bongo Bong whom I met on the pedestrian walk in Granada, and made art pieces and bracelets to sell to tourists.  Tourists love bracelets, knit hats, scarves, textiles, and purses.  I sort of know how to knit and weave.  I opted out, so here I am back in America.

I regret I left my room a mess.  There are long days of clean up work ahead of me.  As Stevie Nicks asks in Gold Dust Woman, “do you know how to pick up the pieces and go home?”

I don’t know the answer.  As I expected before I left I am now hooked on the idea of traveling.  This weekend I went up to Santa Barbara.  Reintegrating into America ain’t EZ.  When I got off the train I expected the taxi drivers to bombard me with taxi solicitations.  I kept holding my backpack really close to me.  My guard is still up.  Everyone looked so affluent and clean and white.  My brain cannot process how I feel about this.  There are trash cans, recycling cans, and compost piles.  Everyone is eco-friendly.  Conscious.  Taking health supplements.  It doesn’t feel real though.

Right now I am at my parent’s house in Menifee, CA.  This too is a mind fuck.

From the Press Enterprise, the Inland Empire’s regional newspaper, “The Inland Empire is fourth in the nation for food insecurity, according to the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center in Washington, D.C.”  This is far from Nicaragua and far from Santa Barbara.  This is the byproduct of having lost touch with what people in Nicaragua still understand, and what people in Santa Barbara are fighting to get back to.  The simple act of growing one’s food.  Currently in a landscape which resembles much of what the rest of America looks like, a nonstop parade of Wal-Mart’s, Chic-fil-a’s, and ampm big gulps, I am reminded of why I am making myself live at home for the next few months.

My parent’s backyard is a small weed filled parcel in the middle of a tract-housing neighborhood.  Right now it is full of cinder blocks, forgotten gym equipment, and weeds.  Although it seems simple enough, I know what I want to accomplish will be monumental.  I want to transform my parents backyard into a little garden.  A little garden which will hopefully provide my parents with a reason to keep their blinds open instead of closed, maybe make them spend a little more time outside, and mostly maybe make them eat some more vegetables.  At the next level, I’d like them to understand why I want them to shop at the farmer’s market instead of the stores they go to get their groceries or get them to compost.  I can’t have any expectations for the garden though.

At the least I will have fun.  Nothing makes me feel more satisfied than watching a plant I put into the ground grow.  I’ll even start a few plants from seed.  As the roots of what I sow take hold I’ll be obligated to stick around and grow out of what makes me uncomfortable.  I know everything is OK, but sometimes I manage to get caught up in my mental constructs.

As for this blog… the journey is far from over.  I enjoyed the process of transferring what I experienced into the written word to share with friends.  I’d like to keep writing, but I feel that maybe I need to start new blogs for new pursuits and keep this blog open strictly for travel abroad.  I look forward to leaving again very soon.  In the meantime, I want to continue doing what I was doing in Santa Barbara here in the IE.  It’ll be more of a challenge, but it’s how I want to be living.  Later this week there is a meeting about starting a food cooperative in Riverside.  There’s also a couple small bicycle advocacy outfits.  It’s all about planting seeds.  You’re born, you eat, you poop, you grow.  you used to eat and poop out seeds and make things grow, but now we poop into clean water.  anyways our poop got messed up somewhere in there and got nastier than dog poop.  Enough about poop.

Time to plant seeds.  Eventually something will come out of it, even in Menifee, CA.



Why you won’t be receiving a souvenir from me

I am naive.

Maybe even dumb.

Why, you ask?  Because today I spent 6 hours at the border of Costa Rica and Nicaragua because I failed to get a stamp for entry into Nicaragua when I crossed over.  Rewind…  I waited in a long ass line at the border and got a stamp.  I was confused as a motherfucker when I got into Nicaraugua.  No one directed me to a detached building where I shouldve gotten the stamp.  I just walked down a dirt road by semis.  No one stopped me.  I’m the least seasoned traveler ever ever ever.  fucking a.  departure and entry stamps.  ok.  lesson learned.

So the Nicaraguan migration officials pulled me aside and told me I had to pay a multa of $100.  I only had $80.  I pleaded with them.  They fucked around with me.  Eventually they cut me a deal of $50.  I somehow managed to maintain a positive attitude through the ordeal.  I recognized there wasnt anything I could do so I had to make the most of it.  I pulled out my harmonica and played.  I did some yoga.  I read the book I have right now.  It was kind of fun.  I got to connect with all the others having migration issues.  There was a trucker who got his passport stolen out of his rig while he showered.  there was a lady with two kids trying to get a stamp so they could go see their father who was coming in on a boat in costa rica.  it reminded me of my times in holding tanks.  we share our offenses  while we have to wait for undetermined amounts of time.  comradical dude.

after the deal was cut, one of the migration officials walked me across the border.  nothing official.  he just shook the hand of the guy at the border.  he told me he has 9 kids from different women.  he’s busy.  while waiting a lot of men kept coming up and asking me if i had a boyfriend and why i wasnt married yet.  i then asked them when they got married.  most said 16.

after i got into costa rica i got a bus to the airport.  my sly plan was to live in the airport until my flight.  i get to juan santamaria and its a ghost town.  i take a bus to san jose and regretfully got a room in a hostel.  not to mention i have to pay $28 fucking dollars to depart costa rica.  bullshite i tell you.  tomorrow i may chill out at the airport or even better i saw theres a dennys between san jose and the airport.  grrrannnnd slammmm.

anyways kale chips instead of souvenirs when i get back.  sorry friends.  i know you wanted some cool multicolored textiles or something like that.  i did write some of you some nice postcards.

heres the song that’s been annoying me through central america.

Be Here Now

I remember first learning about the book ¨Be Here Now¨by Ram Dass shortly after I moved into the Bath House.  One evening some of the roommates sat around the table while my roommate Erik read aloud in his booming oratory voice.  I’d seen the book on the coffee table, but never gave it much credence.  Maybe at that time I’d just assumed it was some meaningless hippie dribble, but after listening to Erik, I grew interested in the topics covered in the book.

Simple notion to free oneself from notions, be here now.

As the big reddish orange sun sets on my first of hopefully many foreign journeys I more now then ever don’t want to leave.  I think about all the little bits of places I could see and experience.  Places, places, places, spaces, transformations.  The world is sitting here and I luckily get to move through it.  This is where I have to embrace the power of the now.  I need to just enjoy this very moment of life.  The pangs of longing will only detract from the greatness of life.

It took a swift kick in the ass about two years ago to make me appreciate a lot of what I do have.  I fully value everything this journey has taught me.  Big heaping mouthfuls of humble pie have been shoved in my mouth.  I love this experience.  It’s not all about happiness, but about peace of mind.  Here I am now.

I probably will write a lot the next few days if I have access to a computer because I need to release the words in my mind.  A great man I know once said it is easier to think than to not think.  I thought this sounded really silly at first, but with time it’s really some of the most profound shit related to me in the English language.

Expanding on my time in Popoyo…  As I began to walk down the long road from Las Salinas towards the coast of Popoyo, a local on a dirt bike asked me if I wanted a ride.  Considering it was as hot as Satan’s rectum I said yes.  I hopped on the back, and he asked me if I wanted a beer.  Since he was the first cute brown boy I talked to I said yes.  OK i’m racist and biased.  I usually only like white guys, but he was surf broed out and had a neff hat on.  It was charming.  He took me to his friend’s comedor and shared some toñas.  He then took me to a cheap place to stay and invited me to a party later that night at a pizza hostel named vaca loca that was shutting down.

Popoyo is really tiny, but it attracts and hypnotizes many outsiders.  Business owners included Americans, italians, uruguayans, french, etc.  I estimate this place will be fucked over and costa ricanized in about ten years if not less.  this is why i want to spend some quality time in this zone sooner than later.

the party at the hostel pizza parlor was a mellow load of fun.  there was a dash of dancing.  the cute local bought me a beer, but then i intentionally ignored him the rest of the night because to be frank i’ve been avoiding penis on my trip.  as easy and tempting it is to be a travel ho i just don’t want to.  i cant have the hos in different area codes.

i spent the rest of the night talking to a cool batch of guys from bend, oregon and kentucky.

another reality check.  i started to walk over to the tidepool swimming hole in just my bikini.  suddenly a man in uniform popped out with a semi-automatic weapon on the point.  he asked me if i was alone.  i said yes.  he told me to go.  this area wasn’t safe.  i’d get raped.  ahhhhh yes i’m a woman.  everyone is out to rape women.  check.  fuck that shit.

once again.  fuck that shit.  i just want to chill the fuck out.

sorry i’m a little buzzed right now.

anyways i start walking back and i was super paranoid.  there was this shady looking guy right near me.  i waited and let him build some good distance before i continued back to my hostel.  the friendly americans gave me a ride out of popoyo because i couldnt afford to stay there anymore.  I went to Granada to catch an easy bus back to San Juan del Sur.  I’m reminded of rape again.  I’m walking down a street and this young girl walking a puppy is in front of me.  an older man starts following her closely so i speed up to stay right behind him.  she veers to the right and he follows her.  she stops and asks me if i speak spanish.  she asks me to stay with her for a second.  she then tells me to not take this this and that street.

drunk rapists.

fucking aaaaaa.  i hate men.  what is wrong with penis.  why do woman have to live through this?


Now that I have that off my chest, i’m back in san juan del sur in what is my last day in nicaragua.  thanks nicaragua.  you are wild, beautiful, and have given me so much.  tomorrow i go to Costa Rica to find some secluded beaches i can chill on before i have to go back to the united states and be a poor child again.

central america, i love you.  don’t fucking change for the white man.  only change to benefit todo la gente.  ok i shouldnt say white man. dont change for the oligarchy.

be here now.

ok that is all.  see you soon.


Because I’m quickly running out of it, and because this has been on my mind the whole time I’ve been in Central America, I want to briefly discuss the impacts of dollarization before delving into my going ons.  I want to note that I am not an economist.  This is not my area of expertise, but rather an area that has interested me in my travels.

What is dollarization?

From the holy halls of wikipedia, ¨Dollarization occurs when the inhabitants of a country use foreign currency in parallel to or instead of the domestic currency as a store of value, unit of account, and/or medium of exchange within the domestic economy.¨  As an ignorant traveler I was surprised to discover my american dollar was readily accepted everywhere I went.  Sometimes prices were exclusively written in dollars rather than cordobas in the case of Nicaragua.  If the price were written in cordoba I could get more for my dollar if the exchange rate is high.

What is the impact of dollarization?

On one side using foreign currency is often a technique to stabilize economies.  Usually it is used to prevent an extreme devaluation of a country’s exchange rate, provide lower interest rates, and attract money from foreign investors.  This at face value may seem beneficial for economically unstable countries, but after talking to many locals I have developed a different perspective of dollarization.  I spent one hungover morning having a good conversation with the security guard at my hostel in San Juan Del Sur.

I was talking to him about the revolution, and what has happened since.  This lead to a discussion on the history of currency in the country.  I asked him how he felt about the dollar’s widespread acceptance in Central America.  He starts off by saying that it has made the price of everything go up.  He tells me about the amount of food he could buy in the pre US dollar acceptance days to now.  Without going into too much political discussion he starts talking about the relationship between current president Daniel Ortega, the IMF, and the World Bank.  He didn’t paint a kind picture.  Overall people I’ve talked to are far over American involvement in the country.  If you want to know about recent American involvement in Latin America, I suggest just googling Central American and US involvement or Latin America and US involvement, or something similar.  It really is modern day imperialism.  This may sound extreme until you objectively look at history.  It’s still going on today.

In my trip one of the biggest shockers was how NOT cheap shit is down here.  I mean it is definitely less, but not proportionately less considering the individual income.

If you know more about these subjects, please message me.  I’m quickly gaining deep interest in these areas.  I could go on and on and on and on.

Enough about that.  It’s really just all part of my traveler’s guilt.  Well more like hating my country’s foreign policy.  But that’s not anything new…

Since my Granadan debacle, I headed back to San Juan Del Sur, and partied for one night.  I met crazy fucking Israelis and ended up in a heavily mysoginistic conversation with an Israeli and a Canadian.  The Canadian said, ¨I know it’s time for me to leave a town when I’ve fucked all the hot chics there.¨ Mind you he was not at all cute.  I’ve met a lot of self-professed man hoes.  Proud man hos.

Feeling disgusted with humanity I hop a long hot bus ride the next morning to Popoyo.  Everyone I’ve met said I’d love it.  They weren’t wrong.  I’ve spent the day in waves, chilling in tidepools, and living the simple life.  Since I’ve been here the powers gone out, the waters gone out, and I made flip flops out of cardboard.  They didn’t last long.  Popoyo is just about being with the ocean, people, and food.  Basic shit that I needed to get back to.  Despite being content to be here now, I wish I wouldve found this spot at the beginning of my trip.  I couldve stayed here for a month.  It’s super fucking mellow.

I’m still here and I want to come back.  Lesson learned.  Never stray from the ocean.  You are it’s bitch.

Good and bad news:  I’m out of money and I don’t have the stamina to continue working.  I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot.  I changed my flight to come home sooner.  My head hangs low, but what can I do?  I’m ready to cut my losses and plan my next trip.  I’m hooked. The world is big.  I am small.  Yesterday I found out I got into the Cal Poly SLO program for City and Regional Planning.  So my future is still in the beautiful Central Coast of my beloved California.  Not a bad prospect.  I hope to get an opportunity to do some work abroad. I am hypnotized by latin america and i havent even seen most of it.  I want to get to know all of it.  it is in my blood.  i feel the ties.

i really want to go to veracruz.

for now, i’ll enjoy my last broke days in nicaragua.  i may have to do a quick crossover into costa rica and live in the airport for a couple days.  at least it’s safe.




Irony.  Life.  Blog posts.  So it goes.  Today I was cannabalized.

I was laying in a hammock looking at my Iphone while working reception at La Libertad hostel in Granada.  Recognizing I needed to do something hipster and frugal, I decided to work at a hostel in exchange for board.  I had already worked two days and didn´t want to work anymore because I hadn´t done any cool adventuring in awhile.  No one else could work.  I can´t say no.  Ok I´ll work.  Everything had gone normally until around 330 today.

A glassy-eyed Nica came into the hostel and asked something about doing laundry.  He was speaking semi-erratically.  He then asked for a glass of water.  The hostel charges 5 cords for water.  I share this information with him.  He leaves.  I go lay down in a hammock.  He comes back in.  He asks me the time.  I look down at my watch.  He grabs my wrist and grabs my phone and goes running.

My brain told me to run.  My brain told me kick his ass.  I ran and I ran.  I followed him for blocks yelling like a mad woman.  Mind you in both English and Spanish.

No one helped me.

He turned right and then veered off into a creek bed.  I couldn´t keep up.  I walk around in circles asking if anyone knew the man.  I was so angry at myself for not breaking his hand or being fast enough to tackle him.  In terms of losing my Iphone it is a material possession.  It would of eventually been gone through obsolescence or in a puddle of water.  I end up in the police station staring at mugshots of known thieves.  It apparent the police don´t have any resources.  It smells like a fart when I walk in.  Their computers are ancient.  I feel like throwing up.  Face after misshapen, beaten, desperate face I realize my phone doesn´t matter.  These people are fucked.  Some of them look developmentally disabled or somehow handicapped.  All look like they don´t have much.  I don´t see the guy who took my phone.  The detective I dealt with was still a typical hard-boiled detective.  He stroked his chin while I tell him about the thief.  He tells me to come back tomorrow at 2.  Like in the US there is little that can be done.  I think I´d have better luck finding it.

So no more photos.

What is still pissing me off is the no worries attitude of the hostel owner.  The police tell me the door should have been kept shut.  He never told me this.  When he shows up at the hostel he doesn´t say anything nor relieves me of my duties to go to the police station.  Luckily another girl was there who said she´d cover a little bit.  When I got back from the station she left.  At this point I really don´t care about the hostel since the owner didn´t care about me.  I´ve given away some beers to myself and other guests.   I let someone leave without paying for their room.  I want to go, but I can´t.  I want to get back to the ocean.  It´s what I need.  Granada was already weighing on me.  This is just further verifying I need to get out asap.  Can´t really at this moment.  Now I have obligations.

The shit that´s supposed to protect me will just make me vulnerable.  Words I said before I left.  I knew this would happen.  Didn´t know it would make me vunerable to my own emotions about poverty and mostly vulnerable to recognizing the indifference of people.  One lady told me ¨Of course no one [on that street] would help you.  Everyone keeps to themselves.  You could get murdered and no one would help.¨

At least I didn´t get murdered.  At least I don´t have a drug problem.  At least my parents loved me and gave me shelter, food, and made me go to school.  I´m alright.  Time to move forward.

Well time to mentally move forward and physically sit and simmer in Granada.

Semana Santa

Predator or prey… which one am I? Naive and traveling alone I’ve felt at risk from mosquitos, gargantuan spiders, gnats, disease, rapists, liars, and thieves. Everystep of the way is paved with something I should be worried about. Just when you start to feel comfortable something happens to remind you to be paranoid. IT {it being any of the predators I just listed} is out to get you.

Walking back to the hostel my final night out in Leon with a new friend, we hear some screams. We look down the street. A security guard and a man are yelling at each other. I asked the security guard at the hostel what was going on. Apparently the man was trying to rob someone at the hostel across the street. The melee escalates. The security guard whips out a baton and procedes to beat the shit out of this wannabe thief. I turn away. I had no interest in watching even if the dude was a robber. I just hear the loud thumps of the baton and the man’s screams. The police eventually show up on motorcycles and take the guy away. The incident made my stomach turn. I’m reminded I’m in fucking Nicaragua. Rules are a little different from home.

Before this incident I had gotten quite comfortable walking around Leon alone at night. I got used to all the cat calls. Pssts, kisses, and hey babies are something you hear every few feet when walking around. At first disgusted, I just blocked it out. After the robbery smack down I started getting paranoid again. Although I wanted to stay in Leon up until I had to go farm, the robbery and a couple other incidents my last night out in Leon led me to take off for the mountains. I stay in a treehouse hostel.

There’s only one other couple backpacking there. The rest were a bunch of kids from Managua celebrating their friend’s birthday. I am first stand offish. I see a huge spider eating a cicada right next to my hammock. I’m actually somewhat happy. Cicadas are annoying little fuckers. I head back up to the treehouse bar. The Managuan kids are drunk. They start handing me shots. I get drunk with them and the hostel worker. I really don’t even remember what I was talking about, but I got some email addresses. I also bought two tins of pringles and a bag of goldfish. I smoke a joint with the hostel worker and see a crazy looking jungle possum. It was a fun night.

The next day I felt super weird. Maybe it was because I smoked, and I actually hadn’t smoked in a while. Not sure. I take my sunscreen out and leave it sitting near my hammock not thinking anything would happen to it. I start the steep hike up to the showers. I take my cold shower and hike back down to the hammock. My sunscreen was gone. My sunhat was gone. This was the first theft I experienced on the trip. What was unsettling is that I’m pretty sure the only people up in this area are the people staying at the hostel and the hostel workers. Prey. Don’t trust anyone. I slowly pack my shit and go to Granada.for a night. Nothing too exciting happened. I then head to the farm.

I don’t want to write too much about the farm other than I just felt uncomfortable there. A 57 year old wanting to start an intentional community lives alongside a 23 year old Ukranian man who knew near perfect Spanish. Both embrace the power of now. They are kind souls, but I definitely did not feel comfortable or that I wanted to stay. I got massively bit up by mosquitos; the weather was too hot for farm work; the landowner had strong opinions, some of which I disagreed with.

My third day in I borrowed a bike to ride from the farm to Granada.

Everything is slow in Nicaragua. It’s almost as if everything is played out in a plane of molasses or syrup. Actions are long and drawn out because of the heat. Buses don’t run on a reliable schedule. On my bike ride I realized it’s too hot for drivers or pedestrians to even be mad at you. I saw the most disgusting roadkill I’ve ever seen on the carretera. It was a decomposing dog that had been sitting in the tropical heat. It’s corpse was glistening and bloated. I didn’t look for too long.

Everything moves through molasses.

Nica time.

Cars have the right of way. The roads are chaos. It oddly doesn’t feel that dangerous. It doesn’t take me long to get to Granada. I realize I don’t want to go back to the farm. I hadn’t been able to sleep well there. I check into a hostel. I decide I want to drink.

I go and buy a bottle of rum for 75 cordoba. This is about 3 or 4 US dollars.

I get back to the hostel and start drinking with an Argentinian and 3 Frenchmen. We manage to piss off the whole hostel with our drunken loudness. We go to an afterhours club with an empty room with an incredible lazer light show. I think the place was called hypnotik. don’t worry i know how to spell. they spelled it that way.

Today I took the bicyle back to the farm and told the owner I felt too sick to stay there. I feel better. On my way back to the carretera a taxi stops and offers to give me a ride to the main road. I tell him I have no money. He said it’s OK. Once in the car he tells me that it’s dangerous for me to be walking on that road at night. I would get raped and robbed. Reminder: I am prey. I am not a predator.

I’m back at the hostel having a mellow evening. Tomorrow I might work the front desk in exchange for board. This weekend is the culminating point for Semana Santa or Holy Week. There’s a lot of scary saint and Christ statues erected. I would’ve taken a picture except they really scare me. Holy predators batman!

Oh yes, I may have a travel buddy soon. A guy my friend hosted through couchsurfer is in the area and is looking for a travel companion. I agreed. It’ll be a nice change in pace.

I’ll be happy when Semana Santa is over.

I need to learn how to appear like a predator. Maybe I should start pssting at every guy that walks by. I should smush giant spiders with my flip flops. As for mosquitos, I don’t think there is anything I can do to prey upon them.