I never really thought that the easiest part of interning in another city, let alone another country, would be getting used to the city. Sure, it is incredibly helpful that I have been here before, and it is my third time to Nicaragua, but I am proud of the way I have adjusted. The city seems easy to navigate, I’m pretty sure I understand the way directions work now too, since number addresses don’t exist. The car conversations involving honking don’t bother me, and I have stopped blinking an eye at the fireworks explosions.
In the morning, I wake up to the intersection. It isn’t the busiest in town, but it is right before the busiest one in the center. On some days, they ring the bells of the church across the one-way street from my window. I haven’t quite found a pattern, but the earliest I’ve caught it is 4 am, and it is 7 am on Saturday and they are ringing. The bird songs, or screeches really, come in waves from the trees in the park at the end of the block, making me suspect parrots. The working horse hooves passes quickly, intermixed with the engine sounds. There hasn’t been a morning that I neglected opening up the window overlooking the street to feel the warmth after a night with air-conditioning.
When I step out on to the street alone, I smirk a little at how different the traffic is. One man yells while jumping on to the door of a moving Coca Cola truck, and I wonder if he used to work in the public transportation business. If you want to get around on the public transit like I have, you become used to the loud and accented names of your destination while being ushered on by the man hanging out the door. Of course, that isn’t his only job – he also collects the funds on route to another city. Most vehicles, including buses, are stamped with affection from the gods – dios me amo and the like. Many of the buses are transformed school buses from the United States.
Transactions are happening every-where, my personal favorite being the fruit stand that appears every morning just outside my door. How convenient to have mangoes and bananas waiting, especially when I remembered to pack my blender. It may seem strange to pay separately for different items, but I find it easy, provided you have small denominations. If you walk down the commercial street, almost everything to eat costs ten or twenty cordobas, equal to about 30 or 60 cents, and you are on your way as soon as the swap is made. No cards, no lines, and not a whole lot of variety either, but I find it just right. Let’s just say I have been eating a lot of rice, beans, fruits, carrots, and onions.
That is not the only thing you can buy with ease. I scored a new pair of shoes to prevent tick harboring, and the pharmacy will sell you anything you need. The Quick Stop by the park sells bottles of wine and cans of beer will set you back less than a dollar. The supermarkets in town sell chia seeds and peanut butter, as well as spinach and processed foods. On the way to work, or wherever, you’ll pass at least three people selling ice cream and popsicles.
However, there is one thing I have had the hardest time finding… Kale. And I have been looking. two supermarkets, the open-air market, restaurants, nothing. I know, I know, how hipster of me to say, but kale is a staple in my diet and it saddens me a little to not have it. To give you an idea of just how absent it is, I just merely mentioned it last week when I was told I would be a God if I found it. But it was no where.
Until I went to San Juan del Sur.
On a little side street, away from all of the surf shops and hostels, was a little café. The only reason I found this café was due to a serious episode of insomnia while sleeping in my hostel in the heat with a less than perfect mosquito net. There I was, lying in bed, thinking about everything in my life that I have fucked up on, with very nice Wifi, trying to sleep, when I decided I wanted some damn food the following morning. All it came down to was which one of the four places with veg-options would be open in the morning after the truck ride back to town (which I got to ride in the front seat for).
We passed the falafel place, which looked like it was open, but there was at least 6 blocks between my drop-off and there. I considered eating the quinoa and garbanzo beans again at the place I had eaten the day before, but it was spendy and not a lot of food. The noodle place wasn’t open yet, so I staggered with my sweat-stache and sleep-deprived brain to Buddha’s Garden.
I was pleasantly surprised as I took a seat in the white-painted room. On a Tuesday morning, I sat down as the only customer and was delicately reading the menu when I saw it…
Apparently some God had found kale in Central America, and that person lived on the Nicaraguan Coast and opened up a plant-based restaurant. I ordered the green juice, with ginger, and kale, and ate my avocado toast with a side of kale with a damn smile on my face while the rest of me melted.
I thought about asking if I could buy some.
But I didn’t.
And now I am kind of kicking myself.
Because I am back in kale-free Granada. But I love it. It is a clean and colorful city, with entertaining and friendly people. And I waited my whole life to eat in-season mangoes during the commute to my job. And I have the rest of my life to eat kale.