25 January 2012

The Warthog and the Peacock

Good travel partners learn how not to get on each other's nerves, otherwise trips can go bad pretty quickly. Over the last 4 years, Mike and I have traveled together, and with others, around Ireland, Finland, Germany, Estonia, Austria, Slovakia, Cyprus, The Czech Republic and other places I'm sure I am forgetting.

This was our longest trip together alone and we learned alot. I learned that Mike doesn't wear socks. Mike learned that I don't like the fact that he doesn't wear socks.

As we were in close quarters and sharing a room, this exchange happened: (when reading exchanges between Mike and I, make sure you use an Irish accent for Mike's part...it makes it way better)

Mike: Oh boy, my dogs are barking (kicks off sneakers)
Chris: You know if you wear socks, and even change socks often, your feet wont stink like hot garbage.
Mike: Doesn't bother me
Chris: You are missing the point
Mike: Am I Chris?
Chris: This room is as big as a small closet...a small closet full of stinky Irish feet
Mike: Weren't you in the Army?
Chris: Yes, an Army that taught us to wear and change socks
Mike: I don't smell anything

Later in the trip, I learned that Mike can't walk in a straight line...drunk or sober. We had this exchange several times:

Mike: Hey look at that cool building (wanders into Chris)
Chris: Can you stop bumping into me, the road is 12 feet wide, how about you take that half
Mike: (ignores Chris) You hungry? Lets go into that shop and see if we can get some sandwiches (bumps into Chris)
Chris: Do you have some sort of inner ear / balance problem?

It was even worse when we had some drinks:

Mike: (bumps into Chris)
Chris: Jesus, will you get the hell off of me.
Mike: Stop bumping into me!
Chris: I'm gonna get you a fucking cane or something!
Mike: I'm gonna beat your face in with my new cane! (inadvertently bumps into Chris again)
Chris: You did it again, what the hell is wrong with you? Are those new shoes or something, keep your distance man! Watch your spacing!
Mike: Oh look, hot dogs!
Chris: Try not to knock over the hotdog cart
Mike: (pushes Chris into the hot dog cart)

Then there was the snoring. Now...I am a snorer. I make no excuses. Usually, its not that bad...unless I have had a few drinks. One night, Mike was sawing logs bigtime. Although I was able to sleep, the next day we had this exchange:

Chris: I'm gonna get you one of those sleep apnea masks for sleeping. I was concerned you were gonna die last night.
Mike: Let me get this straight..... you are complaining about MY snoring?
Chris: No...I am just concerned for your health
Mike: You must be joking
Chris: You know...between your smelly feet, your constant bumping into me and your snoring....I would liken traveling with you, to having a pet Warthog.
Mike: Is that right?
Chris: Yes...I was going to say water buffalo, but I now I think Warthog.
Mike: Well traveling with you is like traveling with a fucking Peacock...Look at me! I'm a fancy Peacock who always has to look good! The Peacock doesnt want to get dirty and looks down its beak at all the other animals.

Now I'm sure Mike has his own version of events, but he can write them on his blog. Either way, The Warthog and The Peacock were born. I can't tell you how many laughs we had over this. Whenever Mike was doing something I deemed warthogy, I would make piglike eating noises or act out my interpretation of a warthog trotting around a mudhole...and whenever he felt I was being peacocky, he would act out a peacock unfurling its feathers and make a really disturbing peacock noise.

Now back to the trip.....

We woke up New Years Day to find we were extremely hungover...go figure. We wandered out in the bright sunlight and across the street to a place we had eaten a few times over the last two days. Ivan, who runs the place had taken it upon himself to teach us Spanish by not letting us speak English and only speaking Spanish to us. Normally, this is exactly what we want and we encourage it. On New Years morning, I wasnt having it.

Ivan: Heyyyyy Amigos, Buenos Dias, Como Esta?
Chris: Coffee..........please (holding skull so it doesnt fall apart)
Ivan: En Espanol Amigo!
Chris: Ivan....get me some MotherF(Mike interrupts)
Mike: Dos Cafes por favor

After some coffee and huevos rancheros...we were felling somewhat better, but still pretty run down...and we had a long drive to Granada later in the day. Mike, in all of his infinite wisdom, came up with the perfect plan. We needed to get in the water.

New Years Day is a big family holiday in Nicaragua, the beach was packed with people. Everyone goes picnicing down at the beach. They are all enjoying themselves, kids are running around playing, families are chatting...and then the Warthog and the Peacock go trudging by, desperate to find hangover relief in the cold water of the Pacific. 

Mike is indeed a genius. As soon as we got in the water, we felt better. 

Then a wave knocked my sunglasses off and I was blind.

Granada, Nicaragua

We had hired a driver to take us to the historical, colonial city of Granada. It was a 2 hour ride and a good opportunity to catch a nap...unfortunately our driver had the same idea. So while Mike slept, I was on high alert and kept waking up our driver as he nodded off. Apparently we hadn't been the only ones up all night.

Just when you think that is bad enough, we get pulled over by the police at a road block. They get us out of the car, check our driver's papers. He looks visibly nervous. They ask for our passports...ask us if we speak Spanish, we say no. So they just keep looking at the passports and then looking at us. Then looking at the passports, talking among themselves, and then looking at us. Then they let us go, we were all happy.

Finally, we get to Granada.

Hello Volcano

Founded in 1524, it was the first European City in the mainland Americas. Its a popular tourist destination, but January is low season so it was pleasantly uncrowded. Mike had made arrangements to stay at a hotel run by an Irish guy. It was the nicest place we had stayed in so far on the trip. When Mike asked the owner Gerry how he liked living in Granada, he said "I have a pool in my kitchen, no complaints"

Gerry's "Hotel de Agua" in Granada
Mike and I wandered around town the rest of the day, and in the evening, met up with an old friend of Mike's for dinner.

Anna, Paola, Diogenes and Mike.
Nicaraguan Diogenes and Irish Mike had met while both doing a semester abroad in Vienna years and years ago, and haven't seen each other since. Through the magic of Facebook, we were all able to all meet up and spend a nice evening together. They talked about the old days, while I just marveled at little Paola who spent most of the time playing with her Mr. Potato Head...or as they call him, Senor Papas.

The next morning, Mike and I hired a horse and buggy guy to take us around town and see all the sights for a few hours.

The driver asked if we spoke Spanish, so we said yes, some. He rattled on for 3 hours at us in Spanish. Between Mike and I we were able to figure almost everything out. We were getting better at at-least understanding Spanish. Mike actually came prepared with quite a good amount of  Spanish, where I was digging into the ancient brain archives from Spanish I studied 25 years ago. We made it work though and had a lot of fun. This would come into play later in the trip when we went more rural.

Granada is indeed very charming and interesting. We covered a lot of ground and got some interesting history lessons.

...but alas, we had to keep moving, we had a flight later that day to El Salvador! The part of the trip I was responsible for planning was beginning...and a lot of it was still up in the air.

Nicaragua? I thought we were in Costa Rica...where am I!
 We got to the airport early and were pleasantly surprised to find out that because of my Silver Elite status with Continental, we had been upgraded to Business Class for our flight!

After being able to board first, the stewardess asked if we would like champagne or another beverage. Mike asked for OJ, I, of course, opted for Champagne.

Mike: OH! The Peacock will most certainly have champagne, so he can feel superior to the other animals boarding the plane! Dont forget to extend your pinky when drinking your fancy champagne Mr Peacock!

After a quick 50 minute flight, we were in El Salvador (country #4 on this trip). We had decided to skip through El Salvador in order to spend more time in Guatemala later on the trip, so this was just a 2 hour layover in the airport. We headed for the "VIP Lounge" available to first class passengers....it looked like a Denny's, but hey, free drinks.

Free beer in El Salvador
We boarded our flight to Honduras and got upgraded again!

The Warthog was very confused with all this luxury, but I assured him everything was ok.

Stay tuned for Part Three of our Central America adventure....next up, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize!

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