An Expat Life: Nicaragua Blues and Ruse

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Monkeys and Volcanic Lakes...

Well, we just got back from our weekend adventure to one of Nicaragua's most pristine areas, Lake Apoyo, the largest volcanic lake in Central America. Nestled between dingy Managua and picturesque Granada, Lake Apoyo is set high in the foothills of the mountain range that divides the Nicaraguan capitals, new and old. With warm turquoise blue water, surrounding hardwood forests, and a healthy tourist infrastructure, I almost forgot completely about Managua for a day or so.

We stayed at the resort, Hotel Narome, ............. taking advantage of the close proximity to the lake and hiking trails, hoping to catch a glimpse of the two species of monkeys that make their home there. Feeling like monkeys ourselves, we spent the first couple hours at the pool, gorging ourselves on fruit and watching the odd mixture of gringos and Nicas, interacting at this scenic hideaway. Much to our dismay, there was a large wedding taking place (which the management failed to mention when booking the room) that absorbed much of the attention of the wait staff. Therefore, our endeavor to lounge like bloated monkeys was made somewhat more difficult.

Fortunately, Apoyo offers a respite from the heat of the lower lying areas of Nicaragua. So, I actually felt a sub 80 degree breeze for the first time in over 6 months! At any rate, the food and atmosphere were unremarkable, but pleasant. Of course, for Brodie, all of this was a grand adventure, and he was tuckered out early in the evening, which gave Kim and I a rare opportunity to play Scrabble (which I lost, due in part to being stuck with the Q late in the game) At any rate, it was fun, reminiscent of our honeymoon in Spain, when we were 'gaming junkies'.

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of the short trip to Apoyo was the morning hike. Following a hearty American breakfast, we ventured up into the foothills, searching for the two species of monkeys found in the area, the howler monkey and some other non-descript white monkey that resembles a little squirrel. Following a surprisingly well-marked trail, we heeded the warnings at the trailhead, in the form of encyclopedic details of the indigenous reptiles, amphibians, and mammals that call Apoyo home. After a brief study of jaguars, coral snakes, boa constrictors, monkeys, and whatnot, we set off on the trail. Although the hike itself proved to be uneventful, the journey itself was peaceful and interesting, a metaphor of life at times I guess. More importantly, Brodie completed his first hike with us, in what I hope to be many, many more. He absolutely loved it. The sense of adventure brought about by wilderness hiking was not lost on him, and he was truly impressed.

After our hike, we settled down, returning to the pool for a brief period, before returning back to the grind of Managua. Before our return, I was summoned to represent my country in a fun, yet competitive game of pool volleyball. All the gringos were to battle the Nicas, with the losers dancing poolside to the latest steamy Latin humiliating! Luckily, our team looked like we'd just returned from going mountain biking, while the Nica side looked like they'd come out of a Ryan's Steakhouse feed. the end, I made my country proud, although I was forced to watch obese Nica men without shirts, dancing like Beyonce. Oh well, a small price to pay for serving U.S. diplomacy.

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