Nicaragua: Interpretations

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It’s been a while since I wrote about how easy it is to travel abroad when given modern interpretations of signs, expressions, people, and the like. And given that most of my travel in 2016 was to Spanish-speaking countries—and no, I still don’t speak Spanish—you can imagine I had a very easy time getting around. How? It’s due to expressions and signs like these that made my life easier.

If you’re planning on going, or just want to catch up on the local lingo, here’s how to travel in Nicaragua:

“Express bus” [city edition] – A bus that can drive faster than you can walk, if your walking speed is measured in feet per hour, and that number does not exceed 500.

 

“Fan” – It is literally cooler to stand outside.

 

“Clean” – See that moving thing in the darkest corner of the bathroom closet? That’s no mop. That’s a mama cat and her 5 kittens you just discovered!

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“Shared bathroom” – A bathroom that’s empty with the exception of 5:30 AM to 8:30 AM, when the sounds of the housekeeper splashing water and buckets around, the parrot squawking, the kittens mewing, and the whole family basically starting to party is only outweighed by the how-many-times-can-one-gag-per-minute-oh-that-many man.

 

“Wifi” – How can the connection be this good in such a seedy place? Literally, it is better than I get in ‘Murica, and I can’t even make a joke about it disconnecting. I’m pretty sure certain jail cells are nicer than the room I’m in in this seedy part of Managua, but this wifi is spectacular.

 

“Hop-on, hop-off bus” – There’s no need to even use leg muscles to hop if you go around a good turn.

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“Volcano” – I seem to have been in many volcano-infested lands lately (Indonesia, Chile, Hawaii, Mexico), but here in Nicaragua you can literally drive your car to the top of one, walk 10 feet, and stare right down into a gaping hole of spewing orange lava and sulphuric smoke. What an awesome liability waiting to happen! [Taken on my cell phone just to show how close you can get]

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“Non-exclusive bus/taxi” – I hope you love butts and body odor.

 

“Did you hear the monkeys howling?” – No, because at 4:45 AM every morning, of COURSE I expect to hear a sound that can only be described as a dinosaur roar, dog bark, and woman being murdered scream all rolled into one, right outside my door! Completely not jarring. Oh, it’s kind of close.

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“Express bus” [countryside edition] – Driving in the other lane, i.e. the lane with oncoming traffic, until said oncoming traffic is seen approaching and is within 50 feet. Hello again, India!

 

“Luggage” – This woman’s live chicken, which she carried next to me, squawking, in her hand throughout boarding the ferry, the hour-long ferry trip, and then the 2.5-hour-long bus trip after that.

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“Breakfast” – Rice and beans, fried plantains, and fried egg, drizzled with cheese

 

“Lunch” – Rice and beans, fried plantains, and fried cheese

 

“Dinner” – Rice, beans, fried plantains, and fried cheese

 

“Monkey who just ate something sour” – this (photo)

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One day I’ll do a 2016 recap, but let’s be honest: That probably won’t happen until July. I’m hoping to travel soon, but until then, ta-ta!

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My Photos of India, as Featured in the Huffington Post

I had quite a nice surprise this weekend: I discovered that several of my photos were featured in a popular HuffPo article!

My photos were posted as part of this article written by bestselling Indian author Chetan Bhagat, an English writer who pens both novels and non-fiction about contemporary India. It describes how the Western world is obsessed with old, exotic India, and not the India of 2014–a modern-day India full of technology, jeans, cyber cafes, and investment options. Mr. Bhagat has millions of Twitter followers, millions more fans, and millions of book copies sold, but he finds it hard to communicate the fact that India is a changing nation. And it’s easy to understand his point. While living in India, I felt lucky to see both sides of the spectrum, and to not only photograph them, but live in them. I spent time with farmers in the poorest of areas, used wi-fi in hip cafes, slept on concrete slabs with locals, and rode the subway in the cities. Sometimes these everday events occurred within hours of each other! There is still so much to be seen of the “old” India–the areas with no running water, mud huts, and poverty–but there is a modern-day India that westerners often ignore.

The six photos of mine that were published as part of Mr. Bhagats article are, funny enough, all about the “old” India. Even so, there are modern-day stories about each one. In the photo above, for example, the bride was the niece of my friend and co-worker. I am friends with the bride’s uncles and cousins on Facebook, and she attended the college where I spent the bulk of my time in India working. On the other hand, she had only met her groom a few times, and the wedding took place in a remote part of Rajasthan. I traveled for days with her extended family in order to reach the wedding temple. In the photo below, these kids were indeed working hard while barefoot, and they lived in extremely basic concrete and salvaged wood shanties. Yet just down the street, people lived in beautiful homes with Western toilets (believe me, that’s big), mostly reliable power, and garbage bins. No matter that these garbage bins were only emptied by cows during my entire time there; they were placed there with forward-thinking intentions. As India works toward being a modern-day society, from what I observed while living there at least, still many obstacles stand in their way. Will Modi change some of that? I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. Read the entire article right here, and see all the featured photography of India on HuffPo’s site.

I’m delighted that my photos were showcased in such an interesting piece, and I’ve already received some thought-provoking messages from passionate Indian citizens. Please feel free to ask me any questions by leaving a comment below, or by tweeting me @AntiTourist. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

More musings from Chetan Bhagat, a man named Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2010, can be seen here.

My photography, including a photo essay on India and plenty more travel photography, can be seen at KathrynCooperPhotography.com.