Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Doubled crossed and crossing borders aka Bridget Jones travels from Nicaragua to Costa Rica

The story so far....

Oof what a day yesterday was as they say in these parts, "qué horrible!" ðŸ˜‘ it was border crossing day but I generally quite like doing it. It makes me feel intrepid and I love a stamp. Oh but yesterday was a doozie though it has a good ending though so that's something. 

Yesterday I left Ometepe to make for Tamarindo in Costa Rica. I have a week whistling through here and Panama before I fly to Colombia next Friday. Anywho I digress.

As you know my Nicaraguan love affair is well documented despite obvious reservations about leaving somewhere that make me so happy I was up bright and breezy to catch the ferry to the mainland. I had actually been up since half 3, thank you wildlife of Ometepe. Problems began when on said ferry I realised the weird plugs in Ometepe had only charged my phone a bit. I decided not to worry about it as there was a waiting room at the port and I thought I had plenty of time. 

I ended up chatting to a lovely lady from Tijuana who gave me some good tips for Costa Rica and Panama. It was foggy on the boat and I have a tan so while I was caught up chatting I didn't worry about suncream. By the time we got to the other side my nose was bit red and shoulders tight. Great combo with a heavy bag ðŸ˜¬ so I'm now suburned with a cold. So much in keeping with my usual summer spent at British music festivals. 

I got to San Jorge and found a plug and that's when it all started to go nuts. Between here and Rivas a town synonymous with bad travel stories there are so many hustlers. I can now put myself in with said stories. However, a woman once told me that where mind goes energy goes. She was a bit left of the middle about most stuff but I think this rings true. As I was thinking bloody Rivas I know so many bad stories about it blah, blah, gah! 

The taxi drivers descended as I was charging but found more willing victims. One persistent fella kept telling me I needed to get going as there were festivals for next two days in Nicaragua and Costa Rica and the border would be shut for a bit and crazy before and after. I smiled just wishing him thanks for the info. He wasn't lying. Always do a festival check before travelling is now on my travel tips list. 

Anyway when I'd got a bit of charge I jumped into an awaiting taxi with the least cray driver and hot footed to Rivas. On arrival the bus conductor said it would be an hour before the bus left. So I chucked my big bag on and went in search of snacks and a printer to save money as apparently Costa Rica won't accept proof of travel on an email, go figure. Trying to save money ending up costing me $35 or thereabouts. 

The reason being when I got back to station about 30 mins later the bus had already gone! It would seem my bag was keener than me to get to its next destination. I remained calm though my face didn't. This alerted another hustler taxi driver who in fact turned out to be a saviour. I explained what happened and he said he'd drive me to the border for $16 and we would catch up with bus and I would be reunited with my bag. Deal!

I now know what it is like to be in a high speed pursuit situation. He even had a police type siren for when we were overtaking, I kid you not. We got to the border in no time only to discover the bus and my bag had diverted to the border town of Cardenas another good distance away. I still remained calmed and we agreed on a new price of $25. On the siren went again and 20 mins later I was reunited with my bag. 

The only trouble was I only had $20 dollars on me and a few cords for the bus I would have been catching. Just to put the tin hat on it the ATM at the border wouldn't accept my card that doesn't charge and so there was a hurried few minutes of swapping stuff round and ignoring astronomical charges as I paid the man and sent him on his way (at high speed). 

I thought that's it there's the drama done with but no it comes in threes. I strode happily to the border guard smiling who took one look at my passport and said you've overstayed your visa and you're being fined. In my very best Spanish I said on but I arrived on 13th June and I'm leaving on 13th September. To which he replied yes and that's 92 days as some months are longer than others, which is the same as your country if not mistaken. I laughed he did not ðŸ˜ I am an idiot you don't need to say it. So cue more charging and cash withdrawals as you have to pay the fine in cordobas not colones and the exit fee in dollars. 

Following another wait where I continued to smile respectfully at the guard who wasn't saying anything or giving me my passport back. No emotion from him just heavy typing and stamping. Eventually he gave it back with a tight smile. I like to think I wore him down but in all honesty it was probably wind. 

I then had a few minutes walking and saying no thanks to everyone trying to get me on a Nica bus and/or tell me I had to pay for an immigration form (you don't). The final man in immigration was actually very nice and let me pass without incident. At this point my battery was only on 2% but I know all I needed to do was get one bus to Liberia and immediately change to Tamarindo. Hahaha the bliss of being unaware. 

The bus came and I got on. It was going slowly so I thought oh I'll watch a film there's plenty of time. I'm tired, a little red, a bit sore and have no idea where I am so yeah the obvious choice is to watch Forrest Gump, which always makes me cry. During the course of the film the bus kept getting stopped for security checks and then a massive storm broke out and we moved ever slower. 

The expected tears came as Forrest is out running. The man across from me told me not to worry and we would sleep on the bus if needs be. In my rapture I hadn't realised we'd ground to halt in the middle of nowhere in the pitch black. I explained it was the film that set me off and he was a bit confused but happy I was smiling through my tears. 

At one point we did think we'd be stuck out all night but eventually the bus wound into Liberia but my chances of getting to Tamarindo had departed sometime before. So night time, storm, no phone, some kindle battery but there in the darkness were the bright lights of a huge Pali (supermarket) and my refuge. 

I was thinking that Costa Rica wasn't so keen on having me and to be fair I wasn't feeling so keen on being there. However a nice member of staff took pity on me and let me sit down and charge my phone. He also told me where I could stay cheaply for the night. 

Once I'd renewed myself with a little sit down I marched out into the night in search of the hostel. It was just round the corner and my welcome more than made up for the shitty stick of the day. The owner ushered me in and hugged me hello. I put down my bag she turned the music up and taught m some salsa moves ðŸ˜„ I like to think she knew I needed a little pick me up or maybe this the way she greets all guests. Either way ðŸ‘ðŸ»ðŸ‘ðŸ» up from me. 

Anyway after a shower and a hairbrush. Amazing how something so small as giving the do a brush makes me feel a millions time better. I headed back to the Pali and bought the two things I said I wouldn't be having this week, beer and choc. Fuck it life happened. No regrets!

I regret nothing.

This morning I was a whole new woman and I found a bus and I'm currently enjoying a large cup of Yorkshire Gold and a few biscuits in the middle of an epic storm. Janis J is on in the back ground and all is well that ends well ðŸ‘ŒðŸ»

Tea heals fact (as the kids say).

Lessons learned:
Check for festivals when travelling.
Count days not dates.
Make sure your phone is actually charging.
Wear suncream even in fog in hot countries.
Get snacks before the bus.
Sometimes believe taxi drivers.
Carry all types of cash but dollars especially.
Draw a simple map of places before destination with possible options for accommodation.
It's good to be unapologetically British at times.
Don't watch highly emotional films when you're highly emotional and have no idea where you're going on a bus in a country you don't know.
Always say yes when offered a salsa lesson.
It's okay to change your route and take a bit longer. You get there in end. 
Oh and a good night's sleep and a cup of strong tea can erase a great deal of meh and pull the happy back in. 

I think they say pura vida in this neck of the woods and on that note I hear a beer and hammock calling ðŸ˜‰ 

Besitos chicos xxx

Monday, 31 July 2017

Hola! Bienvenido to a kind of different Miss Demeanour aka a woman of a certain age on the loose in Latin America, what can possibly go wrong?

You can expect the same amount of ridiculous but just in more exotic climes.

Dear reader,

I come to you from the Northern Highlands of Nicaragua.  More precisely Nicaragua's liberal coffee capital, Matagalpa.  You maybe thinking say what?  I thought she lived in Brighton and this blog was meant to be about sewing (though of late a lot of politics albeit very sporadic).  You would be correct on both counts.  What can I say life got in the way as inevitably it always does.  

Johnny, my lovely old rogue of an uncle.  He was always fully in support of my wandering and wondering.  I know he's out there now at the edge of every sunset.  Raising a glass and wishing me well.

I was actually going to really get back into blogging when this trip originally began in December 2016 in Mexico.  I'd mentioned previously I was spending half a year whistling through Central American and down the West Coast of South America.  Again life is what happens when you're busy making plans.  I was 6 weeks into that trip when my Uncle got very sick and we sadly lost him at the end of January.  I went home to say my earthly goodbyes in February with the intention of returning and finishing what I started.   So I was at home for a few months and back working with the goodest of good eggs in social housing and now I'm here.  I actually flew back out to Nicaragua on the day I would have been flying home so I just feel like this trip is ebbing and flowing just like the rest of my life.

You maybe thinking what will I be writing about if not sewing.  Well there may still be some crafts in here along the way as Latin America is rich with artisans.  However, writing was my first craft long before anything else so I've decided to properly document my travels.  I know many of you follow my ramblings on various other social media, which I have been dutifully filling with my wanderings and so I did wonder if a blog was overkill.  I decided it wasn't because as I started to think about writing about this trip so many words were flooding into my head that I knew Facebook statuses just wouldn't cut it.  Then I remembered on of my favourite quotes (above) from one of my favourite writers, Anais Nin and my mind was made up.  So these wafflings will be as much a memory box for me as anything else.  Who knows maybe it'll be the start of a book?  Though fear not darlings I will aim to keep things entertaining for you the readers.  As well I hope I can impart some useful information on travelling Latin America.  At the very least there'll be the usual unplanned nudity and errant shoe stories, which seem to provide a good laugh.

A travel hero of mine who had a great deal of common sense.

I did also wonder about starting a whole new site for travel related adventures but I know some people have been reading this blog since the beginning and I don't see my travelling as separate from the rest of my life but more another chapter.  As well I tended to often intersperse my sewing with a large amount of what else was going on in my world and that seemed to be what people liked.  So I say give the people what they want!  That said I also delayed getting on with it because I now have a backlog of adventures to write about whilst now on this one.  I thought about it long and hard and that caused me to do nothing so today I kicked my own ass (the quote above helped) and this post is the result of that.  I figure for a while I'll post in real time as well as historical posts and you can be as confused as I am.  Hopefully it'll just be a few weeks of swinging backwards and forwards for me to catch up and then we can be in sync.  Though again this could all be wishful thinking on my part.  

It's nearly 11.30pm in Matagalpa and there's a good chance my heavy handed typing is keeping a few people awake in the hostel so I'll bid you adieu.  I'm up early in the morning to head to my next destination, San Rafael del Sur where I'll be volunteering as a vegan cook and a gardener in a yoga ashram for the next 3 weeks.  That darlings will a story for another post entirely.

Until next time darlings.

Miss Demeanour in dispatches xxx

Thursday, 8 June 2017

General election 2017 special - FUCK THE TORIES - Get out and vote!

I watched this programme at 5am this morning and it triggered a lot of stuff in me about Brexit and the election.

If you get a chance at all in the next few hours if you're undecided or thinking of not voting this is so worth a watch. I bloody love Grayson. He's not only one of the best artists of our time he's also an incredible social commentator. Before you're like, "oh ruddy on about art load of old nonsens", it's more than that he loves people they're at the heart of all of his work. His ability to draw people out and understand what it means to be human is incredible. If I was governing this country I'd get him to go out and work out what people really need/want.

I figure whilst we still have time in case anyone hasn't voted I'll carry on waffling. The joy of social media means you can tune in and check out babies, cats, tea or who's on the make in Love Island or you can read this :)

So Brexit - the big old whiff that's been hanging round this election or the country in general since last year. It's still painful to me however I realise in some form or another it's going to happen. In the programme he examines leavers and remainers. I'm now not ashamed of my grief about the decision. Grief by it's nature isn't always logical and it presents differently for everyone. I'm allowed to be sad about it but at the same understand we need to move forward together for the good of all of us and I include in that those of us that are living elsewhere in the EU and those neighbours of ours from the EU living here.

What Grayson highlights in the programme is the emotion on both sides, which was ignored in the light of facts. The leave group found a lot of their identity in being from where there from and they felt they were losing that and I'm not going to judge a person on their feelings. I think for me I differ and this is in no way a slight at those people that voted leave. I'm to quote the suffragettes more "deeds not words".

By that I mean I don't feel being British (from this piece of land) defines me as such, however parts of the British "nature" make me enormously proud. Our sense of humour is incredible in fact people remark on it all over the world. You'll see it in this programme. I think Grayson's ability to revel in the oddities of people is why he's so good at what he does.

This leads me nicely on to my next point I absolutely believe our ability to laugh at ourselves is key to why we are good at coping. That said we have made a dangerous mistake in laughing at Boris Johnson. The man is not a funny clown. He's a calculating bastard who doesn't care about ordinary people. The day after the decision came and even if it was the one you wanted I imagine there was trepidation as the government imploded and people on both sides were running round not knowing what to do. What was Boris doing? He was playing fucking cricket. He didn't give a shit then and he doesn't now.

If he did care he wouldn't be on the national television news blowing kisses at other candidates or shouting up at the ceiling to avoid questions. He makes me ashamed of where I'm from and I know I'm not alone in this. The thought of him going to talk in Brussels to negotiate the best deal for everyone is horrifying. You can imagine can't you? Oh sorry Boris we are out of biscuits with the tea break...*throws nearest person out of the window*

I wouldn't trust that man to negotiate his way out of a room with the door wide open.

Then we go onto our tinpot Thatcher, Theresa May. I've been trying to avoid her as much as I can because she makes me so mad, which isn't going to help. That said you need to know your enemy so I've kept abreast of her "appearances". She didn't turn up for debates because she was busy "planning" Brexit and that was where the energy should go. Why then call a general election? If the organising of Brexit is so important and it is surely the last thing the country needed was further division.

So she said their campaign focuses on this country getting the best deal and for all her business doing it I'm no clearer about what is going on than before the election. I don't think anyone is. I watched her last night on Jon Snow and her repetitive delivery of "strong and stable" and good deal for Brexit was mechanical . Even Jon couldn't draw any real answers out of her and he's got seven elections experience. She just showed herself to be the robotic shithouse that she really is. She's doesn't care about us. If she did she wouldn't have called this election in the first place.

if you're voting for the conservatives because you want her to be your leader then I think the betting woman in me would say you're whistling dixie. They're already calls from her own party to resign and frankly with all the gaffs and dreary soundbites she's delivered I don't think she wants the fucking job herself.

Quite frankly, she's a despicable husk of a person and to my mind represents none of what people in Britain hold dear.

Returning to the programme Grayson creates two vases using images from both sides and herein lies the positive. A lot of what both sides held dear about Britain was the same. The NHS, the beauty of our landscape, the Royal Mail, tea etc.

Jo Cox was right there's more that unites us than divides us. This government is going after the things we hold closest to our hearts. The things I'm so proud of and I know you are too. They've crept into the cracks and they're rotting our country.

You have a chance today to make a change and not just for you for everyone. This country can be one of great compassion, good humour and diversity.

There is enough for everyone it's just these greedy bastards at the top. We are better than that so I urge you in the few hours remaining we have to get out there and vote the swines out and make this country great.

Love and light,

Re(mainer/moaner) :) xxx