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Fincas, Flora, Fauna, and a Prostitute

So we've now been in Nicaragua for three months, and we're settling in to the daily routines. It's DAMN hot. That's right, old fashioned cuss words are required to describe the heat. Early morning is the coolest time of the day (but being awake to enjoy it just seems like such a sacrifice!) and it is also pleasant to sit out the back on the hammocks late at night when the air has cooled a bit. We are waiting for the rain to come.

We have had a couple of rain false alarms, which have been most exciting. One night there was an electrical storm from about five thirty in the afternoon, then at about nine the heavens opened and it teamed with rain. Dave and I went into the back yard to splash in the volcanic soil mud puddle it had become. Which was great fun.

Our home now contains furniture, which is pleasant. We purchased it in Masatepe, which is one of the Pueblos Blancos dotted around the rim of the super-volcanic crater (now extinct). Each of the towns has it's own specialty. Caterina has plants, San Juan Del Oriente has ceramics (we got some fun masks from there), and Masatepe's specialty is furniture. Seriously, every second store is a furniture store. None of them had what we were after so we ordered it to be made and lo and behold, we don't have to sit on the floor anymore! We also have a kick ass stereo, and due to the extreme acoustics created by a fifteen foot ceiling, if we realy want to FEEL the base we just stand in the bathroom doorway, where the sound gets trapped and practically knocks you over.

Because we live in a fairly wealthy bit of town, we often have receive visitors at the gate hoping we're the sort of people who need things. Do we need a maid, do we need gardening done, do we need to part with any cash... I think my favourite visitor was the prostitute who came to the gate late one night to kindly offer to attend to David. I say 'gate' because we have a footpath directly outside our front door, and instead of having a screen door we have an eight foot high gate with a multitude of padlocks. So people won't usually knock on your door if it's closed, but if they can see your door is open through the gate you are fair game for a visit or a solicitation.

We have been doing a lot of living with nature here; the geckos run amok through the house, and they all seem to have their territories marked. There is a shower gecko, a bathroom gecko, a laundry gecko, and laptop gecko, and a dining room table gecko who likes to hang out on the table waiting for someone to walk past so he can dive for cover. There are bats out the back because of our fruit trees (one of whom flew into the kitchen for a visit and hit the wall because the wall rudely wasn't communicating in sonar). We have a shitzu next door who is very stuck up and a random cat who wandered in through the gate one night, strutted through the house, and then strutted out the gate again. She occasionally looks at us disdainfully through the gate. We also have a couple of mice, who don't get into the food so we assume they eat the fruit outside. One night we discovered a mouse had managed to get into our toaster oven and couldn't get out again. We released it into the back yard. We also MAY have an iguana... some unconfirmed sightings have occurred but nothing official. (Note: right before publication, he is now confirmed; a gorgeous grey iguana with white and brown stripes.)

This is a gecko... not an iguana!

We recently were invited to our landlord's finca, which is a farm, at the foot of Mombacho Volcano. They picked us up and drove us out there a couple of Sundays ago. Their property is huge, and they have a selection of cute animals there, including calves, goats, sheep, ducks, geese, dogs, and of course, horses. We went for a ride, which they also offer as a tour, up the volcano a little way to a lookout point where you can see over Granada. Although I had never ridden a horse before obviously I am now an expert in the art of the horse walking very slowly. It was lots of fun, and the insisted on plying us with food and drink and music. On the way up the volcano, we were lucky enough to see two quetzals, which are native birds and apparently difficult to spot. We also saw an adorable red squirrel.

Still on the subject of flora and fauna, we took a trip up to Mombacho with Kaleb to do the short 'Crater Trail'. We are saving the 4 hour long 'Puma Trail' for some other time... So that was great fun. Mombacho has a cool, rainforest feel to it, and the trail was swarming with butterflies, many of which were the 'transparent' butterflies who are only found on the volcano. They are almost completely see-through, with black edges on their wings and small white spots, and for some reason they appear to have a delicate purple colouring when they fly. We were trying to photograph one, but they are the shy type and seem to know exactly when you are about to press the button, so they lazily flit off and you are left with a glorious photo of a leaf.

This is obviously not one of the transparent butterflies

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