A 2nd Letter to Veronique

October 16, 2009

Ver-

I haven’t checked my email in 2-3 days and the newest one today is yours – how cool is that? Love your message – you seem exhausted! Hope you’re sleeping well, and I’m glad you worked things out with your friend and had fun in NYC.

I never made it past Leon, came here after 6 hours in buses from San Juan, met up with 3 Norwegian students in town, and I was aiming to go to the Tortuga and pass out for a night, then head straight up to Tina’s for a week or so. The plan lasted until I got off the bus in Leon, because immediately I got approached by Norreine, an Irish woman traveling alone across the Americas. She asked me if I had a hostel for the night, then told me about Sonati, a new non-profit hostel built to fund some environmental and women’s rights work here in town. She told me there was a great crowd, good vibe, and plenty of fun times, so I followed her back to town – that’s how I found the best hostel I’ve ever been in.

Sonati is a converted house, barely 6 weeks old, with fantastic beds, a central garden, a rooftop laundry area for me to hang out on, and the hands-down best vibe of any place I’ve ever found. The people! It’s all artists and musicians, philosophers, wanderers, dreamers, and people who love to party. I don’t have to tell you how well I fit in here – it’s like I walked into my best friend’s house and all my other friends were here too, and nobody is leaving! Sure, there’s a transfer in and out, but the core group is mostly intact, and those who do come are exactly the right sort – I don’t know it works out this way, but it’s like this place only draws people who fit in, or perhaps it’s just that everyone fits here, gets formed by the energy of the place, and meshes in without issue.

Well, that’s not entirely true – there was a burglary the second night – some guy came in to check in, then proceeded to break into every locker, stole a lot of cameras, a pair of passports, and then fled. What a fuckhead. My stuff was behind the front desk at the time, so I didn’t lose anything, but some of my friends lost all their photos, money, and more. How awful is that? It was cool to see the whole hostel band together behind these people though, and maybe we’ll find the theif if we’re lucky.

I’m ahead of myself though, I skipped part of the story – when I first got into the hostel I threw all my clothes into the laundry except for my drawing pants and the shirt that smelled least like shit and mold, and sat down to the check my email. The first one was from Gina, a friend I traveled to San Juan with, and it said “DUDE I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT I HAVE YOUR PASSPORT AND YOU HAVE MINE! GET BACK HERE!” I thought it was a joke until I realized that the next 6 emails were the same. Went to check my passport and sure enough it wasn’t mine! We must have swapped at the border accidentally, but I don’t know how in the hell it happened. I shoot an email back, tell her to meet me in Rivas, and she replies on Facebook that we’ll meet at the bus station at noon. (Hey look, Facebook!)

I stay up all night, drinking and laughing with my new friends, then write a whole lot until 4:30am, board the 5:15 bus to Managua, and I’m in Rivas after 2 buses, 3 naps, and a taxi ride at 11. I eat breakfast, and while I am this guy keeps coming by trying to sell me a hammock. He started at $10 and every time I said no he went down a dollar. He’d leave, come back, I’d say no, and he’d leave again to come back a buck cheaper. When it got to $3 I caved in and bought one, and so now I have a hammock. I spent 2 hour at the station, got asked to buy watches, condoms, food, water, sodas, bags, and everything else under the sun. Finally, at 1pm Gina showed up, we hugged, swapped documents, and I hopped the next bus north to do the same crazy ride over again in reverse. After some more napping – I didn’t sleep a full night in 5 nights, and by now I think I’m at 9 – I hit Sonati again, where I’d left all my things, and got a round of applause from my new friends. 12 hours of travel, on my “relaxation” day, jesus fuck that sucked!

Everyone was headed to dinner as I came into the hostel, so I put down my bag, walked right back out into the streets. It was the farewell party for Matt, a guy who had been in the hostel 3 weeks with Dengue – he was a riot, singing obscene and inappropriate songs about the world around him, just so overly, jokingly, sexual to everyone about everything. He reminded me of one of my best friends from home too, so it worked out great. We went to Barbaro, because Matt had given them his recipe for Buffalo wings, and we ate great big plates of them, washed down by beers and rum. Matt got a card and a shirt that said “I survived Leon and EL DENGUE” and we laughed, talked, and made merry. It was perfect for me – I fell into a whole group of friends and was instantly accepted.

After dinner and 5 rum and Canada Drys, we went to another hostel where it was Tuesday Salsa night, where Martin, this crazy Irish fiddle player, and I got into a bit of a competition dancing girls all over the place – an amazing time for us, but some of the poor girls were just getting thrown around! After that place split up, I followed the rest of the people who just wanted to dance to another club – Illion I think – and the place was packed with bodies, salsa and bachata playing. I got another drink, went looking for gorgeous girls who wanted to dance, and that’s when I see her off to one side, looking like she was waiting for someone. I decided that someone was me, started a conversation with her, and tried to get her to dance.

I don’t know how – the same answer most every woman in the world gives, and I tell her I’ll teach her. We do the basics of salsa in one of the side rooms, move to bachata, west coast swing, and keep getting closer and more sensual. At some point we’re just kissing against a wall, and I ask her if she wants to get out of there. She lives in Leon it turns out, has a house, which beats the hell out of my hostel dorm. We stumble the streets, holding hands, laughing – I haven’t done this in forever – nervous!

I shouldn’t have been, she was great, fun, and when she snuck me out at 5am to avoid an awkward scene with her Nica host family, I asked her how I’d ever find her again. She smiled, said we’d figure it out, we kissed, and I was out on the street alone. At the street corner I started laughing, and couldn’t stop for blocks – what a ridiculous day! I didn’t even know R’s name until we were in bed, we shared no personal information, and I got lost coming back from her house, so I had no idea how to find her. It wasn’t until last night when I was talking to some local friends about the whole thing that they knew her and I found out where she works. I’m not sure if I’ll go looking for her again – it seemed like she wasn’t really interested in me in the longer-then-a-night sense, and Monday I leave for Antigua. Still, it was much needed, and I’m glad it all happened.

Since then I’ve been spending every day writing and wandering Leon, every night dancing and making a scene of myself. I love that you gave me advice on how to get girls, because if you saw me this past week you’d probably think “wow, that guy is a whore” much more then “he needs help meeting women.” I’m not completely helpless at the opposite sex – I just really like you, and wasn’t interested in other people when we were around each other. Still, your advice is valid, and I’ll keep it in mind just in case.

What else… I too was struck by how we wrote each other the same stuff, and your letter is definitely going to be with me forever – in Antigua I’m going to scan the whole thing, page by page, into a document, so even if I lose the physical journal I’ll have all the memories. I’m so proud of you for the cigs! 2 packs is great, keep it going. I’m smoking one a day, just for fun really – after the first 3 days, I didn’t get the physical urge, and right now I’ve got a pack sitting untouched right in front of me. Anyway, I think it’s dinner time for me, and I’ll of course keep writing you! It’s a great way to organize my thoughts, and so long as you don’t mind I’m going to post these to my blog – not yours, unless you want – but my letters to you, because they’re good summaries of what’s going on with my life.

Best of luck in your travels from here, sleep off New York, and have a rum and Canada Dry for me sometime. I miss you loads, but we’ll meet again someday.

Besos -k

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