Our Esteli road-trip

When we got back from dinner after volcano, the guys who run our hotel were sitting out the front in their plastic chairs watching the world go by and gossiping with all and sundry who passed. When they saw us their eyes lit up and they shepherded us inside, looking very important, and produced a letter for us. From Brian, who had decided he wanted to go to school in Esteli (in the northern hills of Nicaragua, and Sandinista stronghold with lots of history) and was going on a road trip. Did we want to come? We could all go in the school bus! We were keen to see Esteli, so we turned up at school on Saturday with Esteli firmly in mind. After much deliberation as to the best way to do things, we checked out of our hotel so we could spend the night in Esteli (it takes four hours to get there!), got out some money, got some petrol, a spare tyre, and a jack (both of which had been stolen from the bus in Managua) and got on the road. Four hours of talking mainly Spanish is pretty good practice. Brian taught Veronica 20 questions, and we played that in Spanish. We were pretty surprised because the countryside, because it’s nearing the end of the dry season, looked alot like Australia, complete with dry grass and Eucalypts. We stopped to ask the way alot and picked up a girl who was waiting for a bus to Esteli in exchange for directions.

When we made it to Esteli, I was shocked at how big it was. I was expecting a sleepy little town, but it was much bigger - Esteli compared to Granada is like Perth central compared to Fremantle. There were shoe shops, clothes shops, fruit and veg markets, saddle shops, grain shops… I was feeling lost just looking at it. We went to lunch in a “Chinese” restaurant (see the food entry for more info) which was… an experience. We went out for ice cream with Veronica that night and stopped at a Farmacia for analgesics because Dave had a headache… and it turns out that you can buy singles. That’s right, they’ll open the pack and you can buy one or two or three pills - which they put in a little bag for you. Anyway… We stayed with a host family for the night, in a bright pink house with bright yellow and blue walls inside. The bed had a plastic cover on the mattress, and every move we made sounded like fire crackers. The pillows felt like they had paper in them. And at about three am, after the rosters and dogs had communicated enthusiastically for most of the night, the rain began pelting down on the tin roof. So after a fairly restless night we happily left Esteli to resume our second week in Granada.

When we got back we went to our new mum’s house - at our homestay. The house we are in is only a few minutes from the school. It is light green on the outside and green and yellow on the inside. It’s great - the front door opens into a huge room in which our “mum’s” son has a hair dressing business. There is a big doorway that opens into a large area that’s like indoor/outdoor living, dining and kitchen - with a big sloping roof but only three walls and a garden with a little room in the middle. Then there are some little rooms up the back where the bedrooms are - there is a hibiscus tree next to our room. And our new mum’s very cool… even though as vegetarians, we are being fed a permanent rice-and-beans diet.

Oh well, I’m sure it’s healthy… and it’s fried!