Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nicaragua 2013 (Part 1)

On Christmas Eve, Rob and several friends from our former running club (the Second Wind Buffalo Runners) took the plunge and registered for Fuego y Agua 2013. The event was going to be bigger this year-- elites were coming to do the 100K and 70K Survival Course-- and it seemed like the race was getting a lot of press.  

Rob trained hard.  He won a couple of races along the way (here and here), and he went to the Smoky Mountains to run some ascents (and descents) that were similar to Maderas.

Everything looked good.

IMG 1403

"I had some trouble on the slopes of Maderas," I said to Rob, in explanation for the lopsidedness of my frosting spirals on his good luck cake."That sounds about right," he answered.

Meanwhile, I did what I could to get some time off work for the race, and I talked with Eduardo and Leda. One of my major motives for going back for Fuego y Agua (besides to cheer Rob on) was to bring Eduardo a guitar. He still wants to study music, and several times over the past year, he has mentioned how much he wants to learn to play the guitar-- maybe even start his own mariachi band. As our plans to go back to Nicargua solidified, Rob ended up offering one of his guitars for me to take to Eduardo.

IMG 1414

Rob had bought this guitar at a pawn shop when he was 17 or 18, and he was actually playing it the very first time we ever met. Now that he was ready to let go of the guitar, I could think of no better person to pass it on to than Eduardo. I choked up a little bit every time I thought about it.

On the morning of our departure, we walked about a half mile through the February cold to the metro station-- I had luggage in one hand and the guitar in my other, and Rob was carrying Will. I was slightly paranoid that we would not be allowed to bring the guitar on the plane (Delta's carry-on policy states that you can carry on a guitar as long as it fits in the overhead compartment), but this was one time when having a child really worked to our advantage. We got to board early because of Will, so when we got on the plane, all the overhead bins were completely empty. Smooth sailing. The guitar easily fit into the compartment, and we made it to Managua with no problems.

We met up with Jen, Judy, Brian and Cousin Don at the airport in Managua. Buffalo! Imagine that, Cousin Don in Nicaragua! Sadly, though, one of the Buffalo runners had to cancel his trip at the last minute. John's son and his son's wife were tragically killed in a car accident just days before the race, and now John would not be able travel to Nicaragua and run in the wake of everything that took place after. All the Buffalo vowed to take John up the volcano in their hearts on the day of the race.

Our group spent the night at the Las Mercedes hotel across from the airport, a place that now seems like a second home to me, considering all the nights I've spent there. The next morning we had breakfast (for me: toast with jam, fruit, and coffee [sugar, no cream]), and while the others were packing up and trying to figure out what our next plan of action was, I took Will to the front desk with me and used a phone to call Leda. Yes, call her. She had sent me a message telling me that she was sick and in Managua for treatment, and she'd asked me to call her cell phone when I got to Nicaragua. I am always really nervous about talking to people on the phone and speaking Spanish, but I felt like I had to figure this out because I was really worried about what was wrong with her.

It was a bit difficult to hear her and understand out what was going on, but what I could gather was that she wanted to see me if possible. Good, I wanted to see her too, but I was with a group of people who were heading to Granada, and I had a very whiny but lovable 3-year old in my care. So that kind of limited my ability to jet around Managua trying to find her.

She asked where we were staying in Granada, and I told her. She said that she would take the bus down to Granada and meet me there in the afternoon. At least that is what I thought she said. So I gave her better directions and hoped that I would see her later. It was somewhat encouraging, I guess, that whatever she was sick with, she was well enough to travel to Granada (a 1 hour bus ride). I still felt kind of bad though, that I should have made more of an effort on my part to get to her rather than make her come to me.

There wasn't a whole lot of time to brood about it because we all headed out to Granada soon after. In all honestly I have never been thrilled with Granada, but this is probably because I am always motion sick by the time I get there and then somebody makes me eat greasy food, which tends to worsen the situation. Plus, it is generally 900 degrees in Granada. But this time with the Buffalo, it was really quite nice. We got some minimally greasy, though still somewhat typical Nicaraguan food for lunch, and then the others continued to explore the town while I took Will back to the hotel so he could swim in the pool. It was a very posh place (Hotel Kekoldi), at least by my standards.

IMG 1421

I was getting nervous about what was going on with Leda and if I had really understood correctly that she was coming to find me in Granada. To take the edge off, I had a Victoria with some of the Buffalo when they returned from exploring Granada. IMG 1429

Then we all sat around in the hotel's open-air lobby, looking out at the street and trying to decide what to do for dinner. Just as I was getting nervous about Leda again, there she appeared-- right outside the hotel door, saying, "Hola Meli."
She was with her husband, who is a relatively new addition to her life, and I was glad that she had not been traveling alone. I guess they had been looking all over for me. She smiled and said that after walking around and not finding the hotel, she and her husband had sat in the nearby Parque Central for a while. It is a big attraction for tourists, and they figured eventually I would come by.
She seemed in good spirits, but tired, and she was terribly thin. I felt awful that she had been wandering around Granada all afternoon, looking for the hotel. I asked Leda and her husband if they would join us for dinner and they said okay. Their bus back to Managua wasn't until 8pm.
We headed back out and wandered around a bunch of restaurants near the Parque Central, eventually choosing one that seemed to have something everybody would eat. Rob took a picture of Leda and me while we were waiting for our order to come. I didn't completely understand what was wrong with her. She described it as being weak and tired, with a lot of nausea and vomiting, and I thought she called it pneumonia. She said she needed to be in Managua for treatments, and she was staying with one of her sisters who lived there.

IMG 1431

While we were eating dinner, a group of street boys entered the plaza with some boom boxes and entertained the crowed of diners with some very elaborate break dancing. It was amazing the way they'd choreographed it and the kind of difficult (and dangerous!) gymnastic-like moves they did. I couldn't get a picture that did it justice.

IMG 1434


Soon it was time for Leda to go. We spoke for a bit and she asked if I could help out with some money to pay for her treatments. Of course I was happy to do so. I gave her some money, but as I watched her and her husband walk away towards the bus, I worried that I'd heard her wrong and given her an amount that was far too short of what she needed. But she hadn't let on when I'd handed her the cash. She'd just hugged me and said thank you and that we should talk again soon.


We left to go back to the hotel, and I hoped that Leda would be okay.

(Stay tuned for Part 2)

No comments: