I’ve spoken more German “going international” in Hungary than I think I have in my entire life, including visits to Germany and in German class. Who could have guessed I’d be here?
Hungary has a lot of visitors from Germany. While I’m not Hungarian, I am having so much fun with these people. I’m learning Hungarian words, and if we can’t speak in English, often times someone will speak German. My German is also improving and I’m having a blast.
This week it’s been a mix of Spanish, German, English, Hungarian, and… Euskara (Basque country language)! I pop out my iPhone and ask someone to write the word down in my notepad. Little by little I’m building my own Hungarian phrasebook! So many words here however to describe similar concepts. And, if you say ‘How do you say ___ in Hungarian’ nobody seems to understand. I have to say, for example ‘Spaghetti in English = ___ in Hungarian?’ and that seems to work, I must figure out how/why the first one doesn’t work.
Truly international, all of it. I’m learning so much, and enjoying every minute of it. Someday I hope to be like my grandfather and learn to speak several languages fluently. It’s all about being here amidst the culture. That’s the way to learn how things are said in context and not just from a book. Going international shows why people think/act how they do. It’s so much more interesting than learning from afar. No question about it.
Have you ever thought the thing you’d dread would end up being something you’d love? I’m starting to REALLY look forward to cold showers. Yesterday for example I was on a ‘chicken bus’ for six hours from Leon to San Juan del Sur (both within Nicaragua). The bus was overpacked, with four people in my two person seat. Bags being passed around overhead, sun beating directly on our necks. By the end of it, my pants were soaked in sweat and my white shirt had a nice mix of sweat and dust from the road.
When I finally arrived, I threw my pack (and myself!) off the back of the bus and found a room in a house to rent for a few days, I could hardly wait for that cold shower.
Let me explain the circumstances. There was actually a real shower head versus a pipe coming from the wall and I didn’t need to leave my shoes on in the tiled floor versus a dirty cracked cement floor. It was heaven.
I tried a hot shower in El Salvador and I decided that I prefer cold showers, at least in this weather. I had become accustomed to it in a way I had never expected. First of all, it’s refreshing and I’ve actually become accustomed to the little ‘shock’ that comes from the cold water hitting your skin. Second, the air is colder if you have a hot shower versus a cold shower. Plus, you don’t take as long and don’t end up wasting as much energy.
I was so used to showers just being an amenity, not a luxury. It reminds me just how accustomed I became to small luxuries in the United States, which really are luxuries pretty much everywhere else in the world. But after that bus ride, a cold shower was all I wanted. Talk about a paradigm shift.
What do you value more because of traveling? Are there any luxuries you take for granted sometimes?
Trying to get into a routine in Nicaragua has been more of a challenge than I anticipated. I’ve been a bit lazy for the past couple of weeks, but hey, you gotta forgive yourself sometimes.
Next week being Easter week (a.k.a. the famous Semana Santa), everywhere—at least everywhere in San Juan del Sur—is getting really chaotic. A town of about 20,000 quickly will turn into 200,000 in a few short days. And, predictably, prices are going up for apartments. Instead of finding a room for $65 USD/mo, it’s costing $150-$400. And that’s just for the spaces that are available!
But this morning, I went for a jog on the beach. A little attempt to restore order in life. I was supposed to have a meeting about running a website for a delightful business called Finca las Nubes, but once again there was no call back, or else the meeting had to be moved to another day. Such is the life of an entrepreneur. After living in Spain (where everyone’s much more chill about these kinds of things), I should be used to this. But the guy is American so I was trying to stick to a schedule. No such luck.
As I write this, the power just went out. This happens nearly daily. Luckily, I moved from a cafe/coffee shop to a ‘cyber,’ which has a generator (and air conditioning!). I have to cheat on the air today because all my clothes are soaked in sweat. Fortunately, not only did I come during the busiest and most expensive time of the year but also during the hottest season. Next time I’ll do more homework on when to travel. Le sigh.
But again, back to my jog on the beach. This was at 6:30 am when it was nice and bright. While I was walking home, there was a street vendor squeezing fresh oranges on the street. I couldn’t resist and bought some fresh, amazing orange juice for around .75 cents USD. To-go juices come in a plastic bag tied up with a straw poking out. I love it. There should be more of those available in more countries!
After my orange juice, a local Nicaraguan friend helped me get a private room and bath in a local hospedaje/establishment for $5/night USD. No free Wi-Fi, but at least I’m blending in with the locals and not paying $10/night USD to be with all tourists. I’ve met a lot of great people staying in those places, but I’d rather blend in a bit more.
My Spanish is getting better, but the slang here is doing my head in! I think I learned 5 new slang words for money yesterday. It’s fun to pick up slang. I don’t want to be speaking so formally all the time. However, I’m scared for when I travel back to Spain—they’ll kill me for the way I speak! So I’m trying not to be too informal.
Yesterday I met some kids from Menagua, the capital of Nicaragua and largest city. The rumor is that flocks come from Menagua for Semana Santa and they fight, get drunk, sleep in the streets, rob you, etcetera. But I had seen them vending in the streets earlier and had a laugh and even bought some sunglasses (after gifting mine to a young Nicaraguan girl in Ometepe last weekend). So when they invited me to swim and body surf, I was happy to join.
And glad I accept. I had a great time! Today I passed by the whole group, maybe 5 people, and they all waved to me. They taught me about cusoquitos: the ugliest bug/shelled animal in the world. They come out only when the water is warmer and they dive into the sand. You can see their tiny legs pop up when the wave goes away. Millions of them! Que asco! Gross! They make them in soups—not for me, nor for many others. But somebody has to do it.
I’ll post some pics and tell more stories as I go, just like I always try to do with this blog. Hasta luego!
Have you ever traveled to Nicaragua? What was your experience like?