A frog jumped on me while I was on the loo just a moment ago. I didn’t get a good look at it due to my panic, but I’ll log it in as at least three inches long. It came from above. I’m in the main communal room, and I just found out it has a bathroom. It actually has two. It has a mens and a women’s bathroom—which, as you may not know, means men can’t go in there. Exciting, huh? It is decidedly less smelly than my bathroom with the fellas, but also decidedly more full of frogs and other jumpy, crawly, slitherly creatures. In short, creatures who do not heed the picture of a lady on the front door.
Hello! I’m thrilled to be writing again, as I gave myself a moratorium on blog-writing until I was a bit more settled and less inclined to indulge in serious quejando (complaining). I saved up writing, like a treat, for tonight, so I’m happy as a clam right now sitting in front of my computer, plunking away at the keys. I am also happy to say I am a bit more settled, although that comes as a love-hate relationship. My English classes are in full swing, so I have things to do and ways to use my brain. Today I taught almost five classes, which I hope is not the norm. Using my brain today meant teaching the abc’s and numbers five times over, so it certainly is a different kind of using my brain. Picture this: A. A. A! A como Apple. B. B. B! B! B como Banana. Banana. Banana. C. C. C! C como Cat. Over and over again. I’m not cut out to be a kindergarten teacher.
I’m also beginning to understand this place a little bit better, although I’m still the lone non-surfer and non-speaker of surf language. To that end, I’m attempting to learn how to surf. I struck up a sweet deal with Jaime, the Nicaraguan surf instructor here at Brio. He’ll go out with me for an hour in the early morning and give me a surf lesson, and during his lunch hour, I’ll give him an English lesson. Today was the first day of this and it went well, I think. That is, the deal went well. The surfing did not. I’m abysmal. For perspective: I can’t do a legitimate, full push-up on solid ground. At this point, surfing is to me trying to do a push-up on a tiny, slippery board going really fast. By push-up, you actually mean you need to push-up and then be fully standing. And, by the way, you’re covered in foamy, salty water so breathing and visibility are limited. Enjoy! But although I got just pummeled again and again, I actually did enjoy it. The beach here is, after all, why everyone comes. It’s beautiful. Also, exercise is splendid. I love endorphins. Five days with no endorphins a grumpy Megan makes. So even as I was paddling out and going nowhere because of my weak arms, I working up a sweat (so the expression goes. Obviously I was not sweating as I was in the water. Ironically, this was also the only time I’ve not been sweating in five days). I made no progress, it seemed, but I had fun. Jaime tells me after a couple weeks I’ll be actually surfing (as opposed to looking like a fool, as I do now, which he didn’t say).
Jaime is 22 and pretty funny. He’s tiny and jumpy and has a ton of energy. Jaime’s my buddy. I feel like it could be a beneficial friendship for both parties: he corrects my Spanish—he actually seems to like teaching me new words and localisms—and I’m patient enough to teach him English (unlike the rest of the volunteers). He laughs at my gringo-isms, like today when I said I could walk fast because I had large legs (instead of the much more flattering, and incidentally, correct phrase, long legs). Today, we finished our hour lesson of the abc’s then ate lunch. At this point, a surf lesson and two English classes after a small-ish breakfast, I’m hungry. Okay, I’m really hungry. So you know, I ate my food pretty fast. I was focused. I only looked up (okay, I only took a breath) after my plate was empty—Jaime is still tooling along on his. He looks at my plate with awe and then at me and asks, “como se dice, comes?” “You eat,” I say. He thinks for a moment. “You eat. Fast.” Ha. Funny little guy. Apart from Jaime, the friend-potential is just okay. My two roomies, Adam and Yan, are really cool and I like chatting with them, but they’re very focused on surfing and talking about surfing and getting ready to surf and re-capping the surf. Yan has a different perspective on life as a Russian immigrant, so thats interesting, and he’s also been here for two months, so I ask him whenever I can’t find something or have a question. Which is quite frequent, as you may imagine, so I have no idea what he thinks of me. Adam seems quieter and is really very nice also. They both make dinner, and really make quite a good meal. Ahora, estoy muy llena de fajitas y una cerverza.
But, as this very long post gets even longer: to return to the frog in the loo. It’s precisely this unfortunate quality of being one of those individuals who happen to use the women’s restroom that’s driving me crazy (in short, being a girl). Never have I thought to myself so frequently: “not to sound like a girl or anything, but…” or the even better, “ickyyyy!”. For example, just last evening I walked down to our room before dinner to change into jeans lest the mosquitoes have a thanksgiving feast on my legs. I was enjoying the fire-flies alighting around me, a cool-ish evening breeze, and the dregs of a beautiful sunset. Somewhere in the back of my mind I think I formed the thought: “this is actually sort of nice.” The word nice had just evaporated when I walked into my room, flipped on the light, and saw a four inch crab scuttle across the floor of the room. I swear, I heard every tip tap of it’s claws pitter patter across the tile. My oceanic friend then climbed up and INTO my backpack in its corner on the floor. A bit of a meltdown I then had:
Should I try to dig it out? How would I get it out? Do crabs bite? It’s not going to hurt you. I hate this place. There’sacrabinmystuffthere’sacrabinmystuff. I stood frozen for several minutes. I didn’t move and I may, I’m not proud to say, have whimpered. I then came to and realized I was dripping sweat because the fan in the room was off and simultaneously being eaten alive by the mosquitoes that had entered through the open door—open because of my shock at the aforementioned crustacean. I grabbed a manilla folder sitting next to me, a flimsy thing, and started picking at my bag, flinging stuff around. After a bit of chaos and even more aaeeeeeeks in a small, shrill voice, I established that the crab was in fact not in my backpack. It had taken shelter elsewhere in the room. I put on jeans and decided the crab was not my problem and went to inform my roomies. The conversation:
“Hey, guys, what’s up?” I’m trying to be very casual. “Just a heads up, by the way, no biggie, there’s a crab wandering around our room.”
Adam looks at me with a bemused look. “Ok. Did it get you with its big claw?”
“No, it didn’t, but it had two big claws,” I blurted out before I realized he was joking.
Yan turns and says, “was it big?”
“Big enough to fry up for dinner,” I said, attempting a joke but sounded decidedly less than funny.
They both turned back to their tasks. “Do they come around often?” I said, again attempting to be chill.
“Yeah, I had one that dropped in on me while I was sleeping a couple of weeks ago,” says Yan, unperturbed. Yan, by the way, moved his mattress to the floor in the corner because it’s cooler. “It had been up there for a while, I think. There are always some around.”
“Ok, cool, well, you know, good to know,” I said. All in all, I do not think I achieved the casual demeanor I attempted. Rather than, ‘yeah it’s chill I’m a girl and I can roll with the fact that there’s are large crabs living with us,’ I achieved, ‘not to sound like a girl, buuuuut…’.
This is just one incident of many. Not to sound like a girl, but… I didn’t quite realize I was signing up for a wildlife safari jungle excursion. Now, I am fully aware it is anyone’s right to say: ‘Megan, it’s Nicaragua. You are literally living in the middle of a rainforest that happens to be next to the beach. You are also living in an open air hotel and dorm room. Did you not think creepy, crawly animals lived in the rainforest? Did you not think they would come visit you?’. Yes, yes I knew all this. Man, though, these are animals on human growth hormones. It’s the McDonald’s of the tropics: everything comes supersized. Last night, one of the longer-term guests, whose very used to life at Brio, gets up after dinner and turns a corner, and says, “oh, there’s a tarantula.” He said it with the same tone had he turned the corner and said, “oh, there’s a wall.” Obviously, I checked it out, like a fly drawn to a very horrible light it does not want to see. The problem is it just doesn’t let up. There is not a moment of respite from mosquitoes, from spiders, from geckos running up and down the walls. From crabs pitter pattering over my face while I sleep (not really). I must stop being such a girl. I can be at one with nature. I chatted with Yan yesterday about how welcoming Nicaraguans and Latinos in general are. Compared to the United States, this is such a communal society: everyone looks out for everyone else. I didn’t even think twice in my praise of ‘the community’ way of living. Now shouldn’t this extend to our furry, annoying, slimy, crustacean friends as well? I’m trying to persuade myself that the answer to that question is yes, so play along. Without a doubt, they were here first. Little Hotel Brio is no match for this teeming rainforest meets beach. I should accept the animals as co-inhabiters rather than interlopers. (Except for the mosquitoes. I’d like to eradicate every last one of them.) It’s just easier to stomp my foot and say, go away darn it!
It’s weird: my life in the past week has been so much about being a girl. I don’t know if my reactions to the wildlife around me have to do with my side of the bathroom (the lady side) or it just seems that way given the context I’m in and all the guys I’m surrounded by, who could care less about the wildlife. I’ve just never in my life been so aware of being female. The being-of-female I suppose is always problematic if perhaps less obvious, but now more than ever I’m aware of it, which is, if nothing else, fascinating.
Yes, a love-hate relationship. I’m in a teeming, green rainforest, beautiful and alive and different, colorful, brown. The view from the common room in the hotel is of a rainforest canopy leading to a strip of ocean. Sunsets are brilliant. I’m so happy to write. I’m learning to surf, which is an extreme love-hate relationship (this is awesome! versus surfing is dumb, I give up). I’m teaching and learning. Teaching is fascinating and hard and exhausting. After a couple more days of teaching, I’ll write about it, but as for now it’s something I don’t know how to say. It’s frustrating and annoying, but already after two days, I see rewards. Right now, I’m either on top of the wave or getting pummeled by it (look at me, I’m even using surfing metaphors!) The mosquitoes are pummeling me right now. Off to co-habit with the still-hiding crab (maybe I’ll name it) and other such creatures.