Pura Vida Travels - A Guide To Travel In Latin America








After our Mayoreo shopping spree we stopped at my wife's aunts house. She just moved into her new purple house. It's very nice but it's tiny. Right up the street someone is doing a big expansion on another house. A lot of houses in Nicaragua are like this. They almost build another house around the existing house. The new house ends up with some funky size rooms, courtyards in odd places, and things like that.


Big House
Big House
Junitt's Aunts House
Junitt's Aunts House
Juniett's Cousin Anderson
Juniett's Cousin Anderson
The Juice Guy
The Juice Guy
A Little Expansion
A Little Expansion
Our Haul From Mayoreo
Our Haul From Mayoreo

My next stop was to get my wife-ordered haircut for my birthday party. The only problem was that the place was closed. This is one of the truly bizarre things about Nicaragua in that businesses are open when they feel like being open. I've also learned that calling ahead is useless since even if they say they are open they might not be when you get there. Even the malls close. If there aren't many shoppers at 6 PM they lock the doors and go home. If they are crowded they might stay open until 10 or 11 PM. On the upside most people live at their business so if they're home and you have dollars in your hand the store will open anytime day or night. Just be aware that closed doesn't always mean closed and open doesn't necessarily mean open and you'll do just fine in Managua.


My Neighbor Is Importante
My Neighbor Is Importante
The King's Wifes Place
The King's Wifes Place
Going For A Haircut
Going For A Haircut
But They're Closed
But They're Closed
My Birthday Cake
My Birthday Cake
The Actual Cake
The Actual Cake

Soon after arriving home I heard my wifes crazy aunt Haydee honking the horn in the street. I walkied outside to find her on a scooter loaded with firewood. How you can drive a scooter with a pile of lumber on it is beyond me but somehow she did it. I was a bit puzzled, however, why we needed firewood and how it was going to go in the grill we bought. I came to find out that the firewood wasn't for the grill but for a second cooking fire that was built in a makeshift cooking pit made out of old paving stones. I should have realized that the family was here from Acoyapa and they don't cook on anything other than an open fire. The grill was indeed filled with charcoal and used for cooking hotdogs and carne asada but more on that later.


Delivering Firewood
Delivering Firewood
Our New Grill
Our New Grill
The Firewood
The Firewood
Future Carne Asada
Future Carne Asada
Yes, That's Plastic On Top
Yes, That's Plastic On Top
Chicken On A Stick
Chicken On A Stick

A lot of things puzzle me in Nicaragua and I added another thing to the list when they brought out my cake. I had to ask why I was a 1 year old again. It was explained to me that this was for my 1 year in Nicaragua and that I was born again when I came there. I have to admit that's true. A lot of the time when I'm wandering around babbling incoherent Spanish I feel like a 1 year old so I guess it's appropriate. I also think I like looking at 1 a lot more than 41.

At this point in the festivities the food started pouring out of the kitchen. Round one featured a Nicaraguan favorite, hot dog on a stick. I'm told this is "Peruvian style" but I've been to Peru a few times and I've never seen a hot dog on a stick or even a hot dog for that matter.


I Have 1 Ano
I Have 1 Ano
Me And My Cake
Me And My Cake
That's A Better Photo
That's A Better Photo
We Have Plenty Of Rice
We Have Plenty Of Rice
Imagine That, A Baby
Imagine That, A Baby
Round 1 Of My Birthday Dinner
Round 1 Of My Birthday Dinner

After I started eating the big surprise arrived. My wifes brother hired a mariachi band from Bello Horizonte and they came over and started playing. This is a great tradition in Managua. Every night there are about 20 mariachi bands that hang out in full costume at the rotunda Bello Horizonte waiting for work. It's absolutely hilarious to see. When you show up looking for a band they all come running over and start playing to audition for you. The whole band comes to your house and plays for a few hours for about $40. Even if you don't need a band it's a lot of fun just to hang out and watch them at the rotunda on a Friday night.


I Need A Shovel & A Bib
I Need A Shovel & A Bib
The Mariachi's Arrive
The Mariachi's Arrive
The Brass Section
The Brass Section
Grandma Is Impressed
Grandma Is Impressed
Juniett & I Get Serenaded
Juniett & I Get Serenaded
Crazy Aunt Haydee Joins In
Crazy Aunt Haydee Joins In
Nicaragua's Answer To Elvis
Nicaragua's Answer To Elvis
Let The Eating Begin
Let The Eating Begin
Mesmerized By Mariachi's
Mesmerized By Mariachi's

After the band played their first "set" another round of food commenced. One thing that never happens at a party in Nicaragua is running out of food. Round 2 consisted of pollo asada and various other goodies. Little did I know that there was still more food cooking out back and the mariachis would soon be back.


What R U Lookin' At Gringo
What R U Lookin' At Gringo
Saleen & His Cousin
Saleen & His Cousin
I'm Stuffed
I'm Stuffed
Jose Juan Digs In
Jose Juan Digs In
More Birthday Revelers
More Birthday Revelers
Crazy Aunt Haydee
Crazy Aunt Haydee
Haydee & Jose Juan
Haydee & Jose Juan
The Kids Table
The Kids Table
The Girls Dig In As Well
The Girls Dig In As Well
I Get Caught Reloading
I Get Caught Reloading
Everyone Gets To Hold The Baby
Everyone Gets To Hold The Baby
The Mariachi's Are Back
The Mariachi's Are Back

When the mariachis started playing the second time the dancing began. To be honest I was getting a little worried because it was getting late, we live in a very quiet neighborhood, and it was a Sunday night. If this loud a party was going on in my neighborhood at home there would be 14 patrol cars dispatched immediately to quell the disturbance. In Managua, however, no one complains. Parties are expected to be loud. It's nice not having uptight gringo neighbors.

After dancing for a bit I snuck out back hoping to take a breather and cool off for a bit. Once out back I found my wifes cousin firing up the grill again to cook even more food. This was the first time I got to see Nicaraguan charcoal lighter fluid. It turns out the standard operating procedure here for lighting charcoal here is to melt plastic bags on it. I guess that explains why the hot dogs are so tasty. I would like to say that it shocked me to see them lighting the charcoal this way but nothing shocks me in Nicaragua anymore. On a side note, I actually looked for "real" charcoal lighter fluid the next day and the only thing they sell in the stores are bottles of Kerosene which seems equally nutty to use for lighting charcoal.


Time For An Encore
Time For An Encore
I'm Forced To Dance
I'm Forced To Dance
Showing Off My Moves
Showing Off My Moves
Dancing With Aunt Felicita
Dancing With Aunt Felicita
We Need More Food
We Need More Food
The Dancing Continues
The Dancing Continues

Finally, the time came to cut the cake and sing happy birthday. Nicaraguans sing happy birthday in English for some reason. I'm not sure why but I've been to other birthday parties here and they always sing it in English. After cake, the music switched to reggaetone and the family, the neighbors, and any stray passerbys spent the rest of the night dancing and singing.

I have to say that I really don't like parties but this was the most fun birthday I ever had. I tried to talk my wife out of having a party at all and now I'm glad she didn't listen to me. Several things became clearer to me during the party than they have ever been before. Nicaraguans, for the most part, lead hard lives, lives most of us couldn't even imagine living so whenever they have a chance to have something to celebrate they don't let it slip by.


And Continues
And Continues
Time To Cut The Cake
Time To Cut The Cake
I'm Being Supervised
I'm Being Supervised
Milton Is Happy
Milton Is Happy
Nice Party Gringo
Nice Party Gringo
The Party Floods Into The Street
The Party Floods Into The Street


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