Small Talk with a Drunk Guy in Nicaragua While Scouring the Hood for Cigarettes
As we dive into the 27 Netflix Worthy Travel Experiences today I want to share a particularly colorful adventure I had in Granada, Nicaragua.
One day the temperature reached 14,000 degrees. No it was about 105 degrees. Fahrenheit. Of course.
Kelli did not feel like walking to the grocery store. That is what husbands are for.
I schlepped toward the store in Granada. Such schlepping takes me through the ‘hood. Not like really rough, Central American capital, bring your machete ‘hood, but a different type of energy, a wee bit lawless I suspect, and…well….the ‘hood. As purveyed from a New Jersey guy who knows the hood; not someone who grew up in a suburban environment.
On walking by a small home, someone walked towards me. A drunk individual. A blitzed individual.
He hugged me. Welcomed me to Nicaragua, his beautiful home country.
The following conversation took place in Spanish. I am kinda fluent. Making for a few colorful interludes….
The guy says “Hi.” He asks me if I would like to come inside his house to see his family.
Being totally scared of life and always on my toes, and ever the guarded traveler I say….“Sure.”
He felt fine. Harmless. I traipsed inside to a room with dirt floor, small dog and his heavily gutted brother – sporting the third trimester gut often worn by beastly expats in Thailand – wearing a stained wife beater.
He was watching a TV from 1974.
Anyway, I greet the “family”.
Then the guy asks me if we can go on a cigarette run (code for; the gringo pays for my cigarettes) around the ‘hood.
I hesitate for a second. Ryan sees a piece of content for Blogging From Paradise. I nod. We are off.
As we stroll by each house in the area I can all but here the muttering:
“This dude found another gringo to buy cigarettes for him.”
I may have heard a “payoso” here and there. Which I take as the highest of compliments. My work seemed done there. But I had to adventure, the Gringo in Granada.
My Nica friend is drunk off his ass. Cerveza emanated from his body, he reeking of hooch.
He kept complaining about his wife, the government, and everything but the annoying Gringo next to him who stupidly nodded at his drunken rantings.
We arrive to the first store. He asks for cigs, slurring his already sloppy speech, eyes as bloodshot as a crack fiend after an icy cold shower.
The lady glares at him, proving that he has tried to steal cigarettes before, and tells him “No.”
At this point I ponder parting ways. If I want to listen to a guy rail about his wife in Spanish, I will watch Sabado Gigante, where the railing is good natured and the wives look like Sofia Vergara.
But I stand by his side.
People keep giving us strange looks, as we talk about how the road gets really hot in Granada, and other pressing issues.
At one point when I was really digging for something, he asked me my age.
I said 39.
I followed up with “La Montana Es Hermosa,” gazing at nearby Mount Mombacho. Meaning, “The mountain is beautiful.”
He stared at me like I had just grown 3 heads, had removed my right leg, and began consuming it, right before his very eyes.
After that 34th most awkward episode of the encounter, we find a restaurant open at 8:45 AM. Most shit opens late because Granada is ungodly hot and humid during the late summer months.
We walk inside. He asks for cigarettes. They are selling cigs. Phew. Relief.
I pay for them (there was no question that was happening).
The following episode resembled a 3 Stooges bit, where I tried to cover up him lighting up with a 15 MPH breeze continually sweeping through the area, as if God were saying “Ryan; please turn this into a fun blog post,” as the winds persisted.
Match lit. Goes out. Match lit. Goes out. Match lit, cig lit, dies out.
Finally, with my gentle gringo hands covering his cig, and match, blessed success. He lit the cig!
2 minutes later he is done and stomps it into the ground.
I consider telling him I was giving up food and the trip to the grocery store but knew more fun was in store.
We walk into the grocery store. He persistently asks me to buy him a beer. I decline. The last thing he needed was a beer. He probably did not need a smoke, but I did not see his blackened lungs on an operating table, while I did see bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and the sagacity of a punch drunk sea sponge every time he opened his piehole.
I offered to buy him:
- fruit (looked at me with utter disgust; what did he have against fruit?)
- rice and beans (saw the look in his eyes “racist gringo”)
- delicious lime tostitos, Nica-style (would pick them up after he stumbled into a drunken stupor and passed out)
He only wanted beer and refused all else.
I shopped. Purchased groceries for Kelli and I, along with chips for him, even if he denied them.
After 5 minutes of silent walking we stopped in front of his house. He asked me to come back inside. I declined, explaining in gringo Spanish how my wife would slit my throat or something to the way too dramatic effect, both to scare him away and to show how little a grasp of the Spanish language I had….and then I handed him a bag of tasty lime Nica tostitos.
Eyes glazed over, he glared at me like I didn’t even know him.
I walked away.
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