Yesterday marked our one-month anniversary of living in Nicaragua.
I celebrated it on the toilet.
That pretty much sums up my past two weeks.
14 days staring at a toilet wall, stuck (literally) to a toilet seat.
I had hoped, after our last miserable blog ‘Throwing Spaghetti Against the Wall’ I would be able to write of happier times, share funny anecdotes, post sunset pictures and enthuse about the Nicaraguan Independence Parade. Alas, No. I’m afraid I am a bloated, sweaty, pathetic mess with fat feet and a sore arse.
To counter such pessimistic news, I was hoping to report that the proverbial silver lining visited the cloud above my head. But no. Not even a pound off my midriff. Only I could put ON weight after 10 days of toilet hugging!
Being housebound is a sure road to insanity. Every tiny idiosyncrasy that you never noticed before magnifies into one accumulative nightmare. Whilst evaporating on the sofa (in-between quick dashes to the restroom – where you do anything but rest) I watched a spider stay motionless for over 9 hours. I realised that it takes an army of ants 27 seconds to walk the entire length of my body. Our kitchen tap drips 36 times a minute. The volume of the TV increases every time adverts come on. A gecko’s poo is enormous compared to a gecko. Elbows can sweat. Feet can expand by up to 2 inches in 8 hours and the constant drone of a floor fan will send you doolally.
The truth is, moving to another country is not all plain sailing. Far from it. Between the serene, tranquil, lazy days, the tide can change quickly. You have to be prepared for stormy, turbulent waters that bash you about like a yoghurt pot in a washtub.
My body is no longer a temple – even if it was more of a 1970’s fabricated warehouse – It is a crumbling mound of uselessness. Every day I wake to a new ailment. White spots. Bloodshot eyes. Sore skin. Fat feet. Abdominal cramps. Dead legs. Calf spasms. Blocked intestines. Unblocked intestines. I’ve taken so much medication, I can now add ‘rattling’ to that list.
I was prepared for an acclimatisation period, but I think I might have significantly underestimated the ruthlessness of it. The humidity here is brutal. And my lumbering overweight western body doesn’t like it much.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not moaning. I’m just saying it as it is. I have lived with rain for 85% of my life – I don’t want to return to that. I love a sunny day as much as the next person – but Nicaragua takes hot and adds a dash of chilli!
I literally never stop sweating, not even for a second. I even sweat from places I never knew existed! My daily exercise routine consists of trying to roll my pants over my knees and fighting like a bitch to pull a vest over my head. Trying to squeeze my feet into shoes is a feat too far. From the moment I get up, to the time I go to bed, I slowly melt from the inside out. My condolences go out to any pigs that ever baked on a spit roast. I feel you brother!
And whilst we are on the subject of pigs, I have also learnt that it is sometimes a good idea, being a guest in another country – to leave your western sensitivities at home. On Monday, on my way to the pharmacy (for the third time in as many days) a screeching sound grabbed my attention, not least because it was deafening. Thinking it was the bus wheels, I stepped back to let it pass. Unbelievably, there, hanging on the back of the bus was a carrier bag. Inside, I could just make out the shape of a small snout. Inside the bulging, wriggling carrier bag was a live squealing piglet – just swinging from the back doors of the bus!
As you can imagine, I was mortified. I thought about that little piglet for days. I had to be reminded that public transport here is not a tolerated part-time option for when the family car breaks down. Here, buses are a lifeline – the only mode of transport for thousands of Nicaraguans. Whilst, earlier in the week, I had laughed at the sight of people standing on the top of a moving chicken-bus with motorbikes, double beds, mattresses and sofas – it never occurred to me that I would see livestock hanging in carrier bags! I guess that’s how chicken buses got their name?
Despite having nightmares about that poor piglet, I appreciate that, for some Nicaraguans, there is no other way to transport livestock. This is their lifeblood. This is their country. I am a guest. Our values cannot be applied to a nation with a vastly different culture.
So, all in all, it’s been a month of ups and downs. Lots of lessons and adjustments. At times, I have been slumped over the ropes, ready to throw in the towel.
My inbuilt self-protective fear monster talks to me every day. ‘Return to the paved road of normality’ it whispers. ‘You will be safer there’ it beckons. But I know, that whilst the paved road is comfortable, no flowers grow there.
The paved road of normality is comfortable, but no flowers grow there.
And a life without flowers scares me more than anything on earth. Nobody wins a rat race. The thought of returning to a 9-5 life is as scary as a piglet in a bag. Knocking on the prison door, asking to be let back in, will render all of our struggles and progress, as null and void.
Even though my rose tinted glasses are slightly skew-whiff, and my body has given up, I still want this to work. We LOVE it here!
As well as a parasite, I also have a bit of fire in my belly again.
We might have set ourselves an impossible task. We certainly have a significant curve ball to overcome, but we have to fight for what we want, and the type of life we want to lead – even if it kills us!
Our fate is unknown. Our direction of travel is unclear – but we have to drag our sorry arses and bloated bodies to the party.
‘You gotta be in it, to win it!’ as they say.