Oct 1, 2008

Good Luck

I am a very lucky person--not all the time, of course, but most of the time things work out pretty well for me. (On the other hand, Morley is a realist with a touch of pessimism. Positive results always come as a total surprise to him). Here's a case in point about how lucky I am:

When we were in Nicaragua last month we had a day off work in which we could do whatever we wanted to do. The choices were:

  • go to the beach
  • go into the town of Leon for a nice lunch and some shopping
  • climb this volcano:

Our group (Morley, Doug, Lisa, Carol and I) decided to climb the volcano. Don't ask me why because I don't know why.

PS: I voted in the minority for the nice lunch and shopping option.

Since I was utterly uninterested not as excited about climbing a volcano as the rest of the group, they got me to shut me up and stop whining by agreeing to have lunch afterwards graciously offered to have a nice lunch after they finished climbing the volcano.

We were too small a group to justify using the truck so Amigos arranged a hired car for the day. The vehicle that came for us was by far the nicest one I've ever seen in Nicaragua--a fairly new and immaculately clean mini van. And it had air conditioning!

The driver didn't speak any English so the Amigos staff told him what we wanted to do and where to take us, and since he wasn't familar with the particular volcano we were going to climb they told him how to get there. He nodded at the directions, then smiled at us and waved for us to enter our chariot. We piled in and headed off to the volcano.

Here's the view of the road to the volcano:

Out the window we could see the volcano. It wasn't very far away and that made me very happy indeed--this volcano climbing thing was going to be quick. I was already looking forward to lunch and a nice cold beer in town.

Unfortunately, roads are not very well marked in Nicaragua (no comprendo "street sign") and the driver missed his turn. Apparently instead of turning left beside the brown ox with the black tail, we turned right. And soon the road turned to this:

The road was so narrow and overgrown at times that we could hardly get through and the road was really, really bumpy. We bounced along on this narrow muddy/sandy road for an hour before the driver began to suspect we were lost (I'm only guessing that's what he suspected since he didn't speak English and we didn't speak Spanish, but he definitely had that "oh, crap" look on his face that people get when they realize they don't have a clue where they are).

Finally he stopped the van so we could walk into a clearing for a view of the volcano to see how close we were. This was our view of the volcano:

No volcano. We were lost. Good and truly lost.

And we couldn't exactly stop at the next gas station to ask directions because there was no sign of civilization anywhere. In fact, the only living creatures in sight were oxes, horses, python snakes, and bad men carrying machetes who were intent on robbing us. I didn't actually see any pythons or bad men with machetes but I'm certain they were out there in the jungle.

Undeterred by the lack of a volcano in the vicinity or the impassable roads, and with no new directions to guide him, our driver waved us back into the van and kept going. I tried to convince the rest of the group to bail on the volcano climbing idea but they wanted to keep going. And so we did.

And after another 45 minutes of driving, the road looked like this:

By now I was starving and thirsty. And starving. And cranky. And starving. The road got so bad that our van began to get mired in the mud and sand so our driver took off on foot to see if the road got any better up ahead or if there was another way out. He left the five of us in the middle of Nowhere, Nicaragua to wait (and hope) for his return.

While we waited, I whined and bitched about being hungry entertained the group with cheerful banter about Nicaragua cuisine and kept repeating "I told you so" thoughtfully pondered aloud the wisdom of following one's instincts.

By now it had been hours since we'd left Amigos' house and we really needed a bathroom. Real bad. The guys went off into the jungle to whizz, and although I was tempted to do the same thing my fear of getting a snake bite on the butt kept me close to the van.

Finally, the driver came walking back and through gestures communicated to us the message "no freakin' way, Jose" so we piled back into the van and starting back the way we came, except this time in reverse.

And then....here's where the part about me being lucky comes in, just in case you were wondering...as we're driving down that muddy one lane road in Nowhere, Nicaragua, we passed a guy pushing an ice cream cart. Seriously, I am not making this up. We hadn't seen a car or another person in hours and we bump into a guy pushing an ice cream cart through a jungle. That's just the kind of lucky person I am.

I yelled Alto! Alto! ("stop! stop!") to the driver and then I whipped out some Nicaraguan cordobas and bought each of us a frozen Eskimo bar.

And then I stopping whining about being hungry until we got back to town where we ate like pigs.

I would tell you what we ate except the menu was in Spanish so I don't know for sure. One of them tasted like fish I think.

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