Monday, February 25, 2008


Dear Men of Managua,
This shall hereby serve as notice for you (oh, you lucky ducks, you) that Moustache March is only a few short days away, so you will be granted a period of grace. However, please be aware that after said period is over, we will all return to marvelling at this ridiculous and persistent phenomenon you all seem so intent on pursuing and preserving.
The question needs to be begged- almost daily: WHY, Macho men, WHY??
Love Kiki

Dear Monday,
Yeah? well you've got fat thighs.

Your carrot muffin recipe needs some reworking, specifically: less oil and more baking soda.
Warm Regards,

Dear Coca-cola,
I truly believe that if you make more effort at marketing Fresca to the North American retail community it will pay off. You've really got something there.
Best Wishes,

Dear Kiki,
This shall hereby serve as your notice that you were put on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now you are so far behind that you will never die. This, admittedly, has its benefits. However, in view of practicability and necessity regarding tasks and the fact that people they concern may very well not enjoy a similar fate: some better life choices regarding your time management are advised. We find it admirable that you figured out how to use the google calender attached to your gmail account. However, this will truly only be fruitful if you spend more time working on the items you enter into the agenda rather than entering detailed accounts of what needs to be done. Its just a suggestion, but we, the management think it will really open up this issue for you.
Also, on days such as this, while your hair may now be substantially better, compared to its previous state at 7am, spending 45 minutes on it is not entirely advisable under the circumstances of a) oversleeping and b) unfinished projects with morning deadlines. We realise you are not so shallow that this happens often, but we would just like to keep on track with you so as to synchronize future hair endeavours with optimal scheduling contexts.
That said, we understand that we all have our coping methods and slip-ups. We will not be penalizing you for the hair issue, and moreover, we FIRMLY stand behind your decision to buy that orange shirt this weekend. That looked fabulous. We know, "Orange?" we said. We were surprised too.
Take care,
The management.

Dear Self,
The Oscars aren't really worth your time. I think we've come to that. You can never seem to stay awake until they announce the big awards anyways and the speeches aren't exactly elegant elocutions that will either go down in history or at least be useful as some sort of quote in later writing endeavours. In fact, for a group of people who are supposed to be used to the limelight, they were a pretty jittery bunch last night, but I digress. And you hadn't heard of the majority of the movies nominated anyways. I'm strangely pleased with that. Let this suffice be a reminder for next year.

Dear Readers (Aka Susan and Mom),
I would like to take this moment to thank you so, soooo much (gulp, deep wheezing breath) for your faithful readership and MORE THAN ANYTHING your commentating (sob) on my blog (waves flattened out right hand up and down in a catatonic manner). Your support has... like... meant so much to me, and I wouldn't (desperate suck in of air) -oh gosh!....I wouldn't be here without you (another sob)! (pause while recomposing self, not entirely successful) I just (begins mumbling in foreign language which we can only assume to be Spanish) cielos, que maravilloso...Quiero agradecerles...You are all just- (is drowned out by musical swell and shepherded off stage by a very daper-looking Orlando Bloom while still gasping for air and pumping hand).
Love, the peanut gallery

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

29 Degrees Celsius before 9:00am

By the UCA (Universidad Centroamericana)

The Passage- Catedral Nacional

Horse and Cart beside my house.

La Cruz Blanca

All of the above were taken on a morning walk through Managua last Monday.

Friday, February 15, 2008

El dia del amor, la amistad y Kiki

The Moto.

The Guajada.

The Mariachi.

Tbe Serenade.

The look. That says it all.

Love is a Moto Ride: Part 2

"Love is a Moto Ride" is the continuing story of love in a Central American country as expressed through a mode of transportation. For an introductory story, please refer to the previous post entitled "Love is a Bus Ride."

Yesterday, Feb. 14th, was my birthday- 24 little years have I. I think I will like 24 even better than 23.

I was born on Valentine's day. It's true. I've always said that is why I am a redhead. Yesterday was another one of those birthdays that just filled my heart with joy. I can't unequivocally say it was the best birthday ever, but it certainly was the most notable so far, thus beating out the 2003 heavyweight which has held that title undefeated for the last four years.

2003, let's all refresh our memory, was spent in Guatemala, between 'Guate' and San Pedro with my host family. I almost started crying when I realised my birthday dinner was going to be beans, rice and goat cheese- a meal that after a few short weeks in the country still gave me ahem "stomach issues." Guate food was good. That night, it was not. It was not a bad birthday, but it was definitely raro.

This year however, knocks 2003 off it's comfortable podium for a myriad of reasons.
First- 2008 is the first year to ever have furnished my skin with a sunburn. Not a point in it's favour for being the best birthday, but definitely a technical point for distinction. As the french judges would say, "You know, they took a chance, and eet was... not SO bad..."

Second- recovering the points for best birthday distinction category, the daylight hours of 2008 were spent almost entirely on a moto. Not only a moto in Nicaragua, but a moto riding through the crazy terrain of the departmento of Boaco, which is absolutely rugged and beautiful.

Third- In lieu of 2003's fatal goat cheese mistake, I was fed guajada at the home of one of our clients. guajada does not duele my estomago like the queso fresca of Guate and i really like it. I crave it often these days, but it is hard to find quality guajada in Managua. Boaco and Chontales are the two regions famous for making the best of the best.

I got to visit with some really cool clients too. That makes another 10 points.

I went home to a swimming pool which MORE than compensated for the burnt skin. Also the burn in and of itself pointed out something which I feel is worth noting: I've been here almost 6 months and this is the first burn in that entire time. That is quite a feat for any pallid little chela indeed.

After the swimming pool a very nice group of people came to make me feel special. That was awfully nice of them. Kendal even sang me the Medley from "Moulin Rouge." Oh sigh. My little heart went pitter patter.

Finally, 2003 did not include a Mariachi band, nor for that matter mariachi pants, of which i just can't get enough, and so cannot even possibly compete.

Thanks for making me feel special and loved even if you weren't in Managua/Teustepe with me. Happy dia del amor y amistad.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Love is a Bus Ride: Part 1

Let me just preface this by reminding you my faithful readers, that this week we celebrate that four-lettter word: love. we also, coincidentally, celebrate my birth on the same day. I don't want to hear any anti-love talk, not a single word on the bane of relationships nor a pip about
the colour red. If you don't have someone to love, then I am your default. There. Happy now? you've got a red-headed Valentine

Alright then, let's get on with it shall we?

There is nothing like a bus ride to make me remember how ridiculously wonderful this place is. Riding the bus at home is not really something that engenders feelings of patriotism and national pride (although the sky train does). Ironic, that the refurbished American school buses that I ride around this country on are the very environment to make me feel that giddy sense of pure and innocent love similar to what you get when you find out your crush likes you back. You just can’t get enough of their face- or their wheels; their eyes- or their windows- and the view rushing past those windows… mmm!

On Friday Shannon, Wendy and I took off for Matagalpa (also an environment that thrills me- it’s the mountains). We didn’t get out of Managua til about 4:15ish, due to the pit stops at Pricemart to purchase supplies for Noel and his café, Artesanos, and On-the-Run to purchase supplies for Kiki, Wendy and Shannon, and their road-trip. Several jugs of juice, whip cream, hot dogs, maraschino cherries and bags of platano chips later (I’ll let you guess what was for whom) we finally burn past the airport, one of the last landmarks on Carretera Norte out of the city. Next is Tipitapa (which, according to Amira, has the distinction of being the “Armpit of Nicaragua”- although this claim is hereto unchallenged and uninvestigated, so the author wishes to add the caveat that it is not necessarily the opinion of herself, MEDA, blogspot nor, evidently, the inhabitants of Tipitapa itself).

We got about 40 minutes out of the city and Wendy noticed the engine light go on. Next thing you know there is some serious steam coming out. We pull over behind a nice young girl who could not have been more than my own age, changing her own tire with her two brothers and grandmother. As she has the orange triangles already out on the road we decide to make use of that, seeing as we clearly don’t have these legally-required items (but then again, we let our car overheat after 40 minutes of driving, what do you expect?). This girl comes over and, as she has already finished changing her own tire, she takes charge of our situation. (Can I just reiterate that she changed her own tire. Herself).

Now I would just like to say that, in my defence, I know a little about cars- enough to be safe, and not have to differentiate them based largely on colour. But as this was not my car, and was a car that has had a plethora of problems lately, we really should have known…

So it’s not looking so good out there on the barren highway. Young miss flags down a truck carrying- among other useful tools in such situations- a large group of men, and asks if they are carrying any rope. Rope! Why didn’t I think of that! If we just melt the rope down, we can pour it around and it will cool off the rad… Not quite. Next thing I realize she is explaining to me how the guys are going to tie the rope between our two cars and tow us to the next town. Sweet. The rope is about oh, gosh let’s be generous and say 8 ft. Better double that over, so its good and strong. There, that puts a few feet between our car and hers.

On the other hand, considering that you have to wait 25 minutes for BCAA to drive four blocks over to you, I thought this might expedited the process rather than calling them. If you want to know what its like to drive three feet behind a cute little Mitsubishi click here.

Our nice little tow drops us off in Las Maderas, where some very helpful mecanicos rush out to meet us. They've see the rope tow before evidently. Before long it becomes apparent that we are not getting back in that car anytime today. Between Wendy's calls to the office-its a company car- and muttering obscenities- yeah that was mostly me- we finally discern that we will have to leave the old girl with this nice plump little mechanic.

Now we are faced with the ultimate question: there are two sides to the street. If we catch a bus on the right hand side of the highway, we go to Matagalpa. If we catch it on the other side, it's back to Managua. Clearly, the choice is already made- especially considering we are already on the right side- literally and figuratively- and that a bus appears within about 4.8 seconds. The swarm of helpful mecanicos then chase down the bus, yelling "Matgalpa! matagalpa! matagalpa! Chelitas! Chelitas! Chelitas!" which, loosely translates to: "Matagalpa! Matagalpa! Matagalpa! White girls! white girls! white girls!" (Don't judge me, that's what it means and that's what we get called). So I do what comes naturally in such situations: run. I shamelessly run and I jump into that bus. I almost rebound out because the back part where I get in is so packed that its literally shoulder-to-shoulder-to-back-to-butt-to-armpit. "Chelita! no hay espacio! que fumados!" (white girl! there ain't no space! You guys are crazy"). "Us guys" of course, was referring to me and the two guys working the bus and encouraging my entrance. Not to Wendy of Shannon of course, because they didn't get in the back of the bus. Nope I was back there, all by myself I soon realized. I assumed- nay, hoped that they got on the front. I sent them a text to make sure, which was about the only thing I could do as we were so tightly packed and my cell phone was pushed up against my chin in the pocket of one of the three bags I was able to grab while running for the bus.

So here I am in an autobuuuus. I am balancing entirely based on the grip provided by my right hand ring-finger on the luggage-rack pole . I have bags hanging off pretty much every limb. There is a guy who is becoming well-acquainted with both my elbow and the sweet smell of my deodorant's- ahem, if it was still working by this point.

And I couldn't be happier. What is this strange feeling coming over me? In place of the bad words, all that comes out are flowers of laughter. Hope springs forth within me. My heart bubbles over and spills onto Juan Carlos, the guy who is standing in the four inches of space between the last chair and the back wall, directly across from me. Why do Matagalpa-bound buses have this effect on me? Why have they taken my heart?

Answers to these questions and more to come post-haste.