Stop signs and no street names in Chinandega (our closest city). Complicated. Locals who grew up there know where the stolen stop signs used to be, or what street is what. The rest of us have to have a hair raising guess as carts being pulled by horses, sugar cane trucks, taxis, took-tooks, dogs and locals giving you the finger wag of “wrong choice” make you second guess any decision you were about to make.
Or when you have super explosive diaharea belly and need to find a bathroom that is not a plastic wall in front of a bunch of people at a bus stop, soccer game, or in a bikini at the beach. This situation often leads to jumping over barbwire fences and hiding behind a cow, tree or just your own self-disgust.
Internet or cell phone function. Always complicated. Everything is pay as you go or “saldo” that can be sold at any grass roof, mud hut with a sign outside. Often includes pigs, chickens, and smiling yet slang speaking locals, who are a bit challenging to understand. Then you have to send in a text or sms, all with different terms of conditions. So you send 10 different texts hoping one will work.
That paired with dust covered, salt encrusted electronics, it’s really a hit or miss. Coming from plugged in North America, and friends who are addicted to Facebook and phones, they wonder why we have dropped off the face of the earth. It also becomes less complicated because we just stop caring. The give a #@!$ factor drops to absolute 0.
Vehicles are another never ending delight. Feels more like owning a money pit boat than a car. Driving washboard at best dirt roads, and sand beaches jars your vehicle parts to a state of loose or fallen off. Driving in our car “Juanita” the other day, we are happily pulling off boards to go for a surf. Suddenly the electronic window does not want to roll up. After pulling off the door panel and wiggling some wires EJ was successful in getting it closed. Yet once returning to our car, now the door would not open. The stereo decides to stop working and just as we get one thing fixed, the windshield wiper falls off mid swipe. All you can do is laugh, give “Juanita” a little pat on the dusty dash and put it on the manana list.
We used to have a saying on surf trips. If you have a job to do it takes 4 days.
Day1 – You think about it
2- You push it to manana
3- Come up with a plan
4- Finally tick it off the list.
Here it’s dragged out to more like a week. I am the queen of making excuses not to go to town for another day, and am willing to gum down a bag of refried beans for dinner not to have to go. Then once you pump your self up and declare to make it fun, you get the Chinandega beat down. Inevitably 3 jobs turn into 8 or 10, and we limp out of town covered in sweat and city grime with our tails between our legs.
All that said, most of our complications are from our own white boy and girl “chele” problem of just not knowing. It takes time to get to know a country, and it’s quirks. To adapt, and learn the way things roll. Just like a Nicaraguan would have to get used to being in Canada or the US.
You either learn to adapt a relaxed attitude or survival is unlikely. All these things are endearments of the passion we have for this country and the adventure of adopting another country to be our home.
And you know what’s not complicated? The wonderful routine in-between the complicated, of wake up, beach walk, surf, eat, surf, nap, go adventuring, eat, sleep. I sign off with that oh so satisfying feeling of having a full fridge (most importantly cheese), and most of our job list done. The ones not? Refer to the above formula.