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Languishing in school and jail in Granada

No, they certainly aren’t the same thing. Even though getting up at five thirty so we can be at school may seem a bit like it. So we’ve been at school for a week now, managed to enrol and everything.

Handed over wodges of cash - (four bucks an hour each… practically bankrupted us!) and arrived at 8am on the dot on tuesday morning with our little exercise books and our little pens. Our teacher is Veronica - she’s twenty two and her mum owns and runs the school. She is awesome, and it is just Dave and I in the ‘class’ as most students want a private teacher. So for the last week we’ve been doing seven hours a day at school, which is really intense - four hours of theory in the morning and three hours of practical - ie going and learning the history of Nicaragua in Spanish at various museums, and landmarks and stuff. Although, the education is fairly unstructured and random. Which leads me to the jail bit…

Veronica seems to be in sole control of the school bus - a van that seats five, but up to eight, passengers. And because she is our teacher, any time somebody has to go somewhere, that place just gets incorportated into our lesson. One of the students, a Marxist American history teacher named Brian who has been fined by the US for daring to visit Cuba, has a love of all things Sandinista and managed to hook up an interview with the director of the prison school in Granada. So Dave and I went along for the ride. Which was pretty cool. I don’t fancy our chances of randomly being able to experience a prison in a foreign country except under far more unpleasant circumstances. It was our second day of Spanish school. Which the director of the prison found most amusing (”say something that you know in Spanish. Buenos Dias, Gracias, Tortilla?!” and then he roared with laughter). But it was really amazing, and culminated with, as we walked through the yard on our way out, being approached by a prisoner. “Where are you from?” to Dave and I. “Australia” we mumbled, and he was a bit fazed by that. “Where are you from?” He asked Brian. (We attracted A LOT of attention that day. I suppose if you’re in, it’s not that often that three gringos march in surrounded by staff). When Brian said “Brooklyn”, the flood gates opened. “I’m from Brooklyn too!” said the strange little man. “I’m the only American here!” He was about five five, with little stick legs, teeth like piano keys, sunken eyes, whispy hair, and an lump the size of a golf ball just off centre on his forehead. He could have been seventy, but I suspect he was closer to forty and just prematurely aged. The little guy was so enthusiastic to see somebody, he jumped up and reached out his hand, and told us his story: He wasn’t from Nica, didn’t even live here, he was from Costa Rica and he had been arrested and jailed for two and a half years for having seven ounces of pot in his possession. He’d served four months to date. And apparently, he had only crossed the Nica/Costa border to get his passport stamped. So here he was, the only Gringo in Granada jail. And his accent was indentical to the guy in that Younger Brother track (they don’t like how I hang out, they don’t like my lifestyle…). It like something out of a Hunter S novel. He even looked like he’d been drawn by Ralph Steadman.

And that was our second day at school.

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