Title: My first order of business was to find a shaded hammock
Location: Granada, Nicaragua
Swaying gently in my hammock, I curiously watched the travelers around me; wondering where they were from and what places they'd been. Each and every day brings new faces, personalities, and nationalities; while those familiar move on. The challenge of meeting new people is a daily task that can definitely wear a person down. I go through the same introductions and brief history of myself over and over again. I think I'm just going to start making things up. My travels have brought me to a comfortable little hostel called the Oasis; in the lakeside town of Granada. My first order of business was to find a shaded hammock and take a siesta in order to recoup from lack of sleep. Yesterday, I said my farewells to Leon over an all night Salsa fest with Mariana (a charming girl I met one day prior) and the rest of the remaining Dutch girls. After waking, I was informed that the De La Hoya vs. Mayorga fight was tonight and was a big event around town. Ricardo Mayorga was Nicaragua's big fighter who presently held the belt; so the country was all hyped and ready for "Fight Night". But first things first, I had to get some food in me or I was going to kill over. On my walk home after filling my stomach, I came across this poor looking Nico who attempted to speak English to me as I passed, so I decided to stop and practice my Spanish. He never asked me for money like most of the other locals; he just told me he was having trouble finding work and that he needed to feed himself (age 27) and his kid (7) that night. I asked him how much it cost to feed them per week and he told me 50 cordobas (that is only 3 dollars), but he then said all he really needed was enough for tonight. I told him to meet me near my hostel the following day at 10am and take me on a tour of his city and also help me with my Spanish; then I handed him 100 cordobas and told him to go take care of his kid. Ricardo's eyes lit up and he swore he'd be there. He skipped off down the street and continued to thank me and shout my name from the distance (that's great Ricardo; announce to everyone around that I'm handing out money). I seriously doubted that he would show the next day, but that really didn't concern me. You have to be very selective whom you give money to, because if you handed it out to everyone who asked then you would be bone dry in a few days. Unlike Guatemala, where everyone is constantly coming up to you trying to sell you something, the locals of Nicaragua just come up and ask for money. It is much worse here than the other countries I have been in; to the point where parents have their kids out all day and night running around asking for money. Since the moment I stepped off of the bus, there have been street kids all around, running up, tugging on my clothes, and crying "one dollar, one dollar" with their little finger in the air. It was the worst in Leon, where you would always have at least 2-3 kids following down the street demanding money; and they wouldn't go home until after midnight (persistent little buggers). It made me feel bad because I was sorry for them, but at the same time was annoyed that their families had them running the streets day and night harassing people instead of going school. Of course what can I really say, they were very poor and in need of food. It is a tough thing all the way around.
Let the fights begin! Back at the hostel, all gathered round the TV and watched the preliminary fights leading up to the big event. While sitting there, I met a young British girl who had been teaching kids English in Costa Rica. After telling her about some of the work that I had done in Guatemala and what some of my missionary friends are doing there, she made the comment that I have heard so many times in my travels; "You Americans sure are religious, especially you from the South". I always laugh and take it as a compliment. We drifted our conversation away from the fighting event and continued in a friendly fashion. She was very kind and just interested in what made me so confident in what I believe. She informed me that yeah; there probably was a God, but that she just didn't believe in the whole bit about Jesus. I have heard this a lot in my travels, so I wasn't as shocked as I was in the beginning. To make a long story short, I spent the next hour explaining to her about the Bible, Jesus, and the importance of faith and relationship. She told me how different the Christians are in her country and how they definitely are the minority. I continued on, telling her my opinions and what I felt was truly important; and left her with that. In the end I don't know how she stood, but it sure felt good to think that maybe I had planted a little seed. I could definitely tell she was searching for answers, but we all know how tough a young mind can be. Alright, alright; back to the fight! Of course, I had to root my American fighter even though I was in Nicaragua. The majority around cheered their fighter on, while I slipped a retaliating "oh yeah!" in every once in a while. De La Hoya pummeled Mayorga with jabs round after round, until he dropped him in the sixth with a barrage of blows to the head. Yeah, that's what I thought! After a 20-month layoff, De La Hoya had come back to regain his junior middleweight title and put on quite the show. It was a great fight; especially being that I was in Nicaragua to enjoy the victory!
The following morning guess who showed up early to tour me around town; ole Ricardo. We spent hours walking through the streets, while he told me about the town's history and I practiced my Spanish. Granada is Nicaragua's oldest Spanish city; founded in 1524 by Cordoba. This colonial town sits on the northwestern shore of Lago de Nicaragua and lies at the base of Volcán Mombacho. The colorful architecture is more impressive than that of Leon, but the prices and congestion make me prefer the other. Ricardo walked me down to see the lake and then back to Parque Central, where the town's cathedral stood tall. I took some time to talk with Ricardo about his job situation and tried to help him figure a way to get back on his feet. He had no identification card and only one ragged outfit to wear, therefore he was unable to get a job. I talked to him about different options he had to get money to purchase an ID and clothing, but he just acted like it was impossible. After an hour of trying to convince him that it could be done, I finally wished him luck, thanked him for the day, and left him with a lunch and a smile. What can you do? I just don't know.