“Memory is nothing more than memory. Events do not remain in it as some holy garments in the trunk, but they still happen, even if simply by remembering them, changing, growing. You can never be sure of them or build anything on them. Once they are closer than the present, once they escape in front of you, although you approach them with good will, and maybe the truth about the things is possible to designate only by our longing for them, our sorrow, our turning up in them. Perhaps by memorizing things we want to ensure they will still be in the present, the only possible eternity. Because only the present time is real in human life, only in the present we experience our presence, sometimes painful” Wieslaw Mysliwski
Ernesto is a sculptor. He makes furniture. If he has a good month, he earns one hundred dollars, if the month is week, he will not earn anything. As he says, one hundred dollars in Nicaragua is enough to buy food and tools and even a beer will do. Ernesto lives in his own, self-made house. The house is set on a plot which was given to Ernesto as a gift from the governmnet for his participation in the revolution. The only fee that has to to born is a rent for land, chargeable once a year. This fee amounts to bare seven Cordobas (the equivalent of 1/3 of American dollar, in other words – about thirty American cents).
The plot, along with the house, is now worth two hundred thousand Cordobas, which is about eight thousand American dollars. The house is beautiful, almost everything is made of wood, it has electricity, the roof does not leak, the large garden is full of running chickens, cats and dogs.
Ernesto says that the climate is changing, and although it is winter now, and the rainy season, it rains as good as nothing. The well has to be deepened continually, because it dries out. I’m going to help. Zeledon Henry, the Ernesto’s sun, enters the well. The bottom of it is very hot and stuffy, and to make the matter worse, there are lots of scorpions there. They bite, no doubt about that, but what you can do – one needs to drink water, so every so often the well needs to be deepened. Scorpions come in almost every bucket, together with the spoil, dug out by terribly hard work, for which the payment is a gallon of clean water a day.
In Nicaragua, unfortunately, beggars appeared. As soon as at the border with Honduras, which surprised me a little, because it has been a long time since I last saw importunate toddlers running around and crying out: give me one dollar. The elders have a more veiled method of getting their way. For example, I ask a quite well dressed lady (dressed certainly far better than I was): Do not you know where the nearest supermarket is? I’m going in that direction, she says, come with me, I will show you. I am keen on a proposal for a joint walk and some talk, but after five minutes or so, the conversation turns into a weird teeth business. That going to the dentist is expensive, that the lady will soon have to have her entire jaw replaced, oterwise she won’t be able to eat, so, could I just lend her some bucks to replace at least one tooth?
Or, I ask for a comedor, because I wanted a hamburger. Forget bloody hamburger!, says a nice, young boy in a white, clean shirt. He smiles at me warmly, protruding his gleaming teeth, a briefcase sticks out from under his left armpit. Don’t eat this stuff, come with me, I’ll take you to a better place and for the same amount of money you will eat a really good dinner! Again, I naively agreed, and finally I had to pay twice as much for the meal (but I will find out about it only when I’ve finished eating), and during devouring (after all) a delicious chicken with vegetables, I heard: Listen, could you lend me two hundred Cordobas? So I could buy a dinner later. I have not eaten anything yet, see how my ribs are sticking out, and having said that, he pulled up his shirt and exposed overgrown chest.
I’ve seen a trick with ribs more than once, maybe I’ll start to use it myself, I’m sure I would not be worse than a boy with a briefcase, cause my chest hasn’t got any facial hair and the ribs present themselves much better.
In Granada, completely by chance, I got to the festival, which at first glance looked like gays and lesbians parade. Painted transvestites, athletic young boys, flexing their torsos to the beat of techno music, and behind them – two big quasi-dragons, on platforms of which, scantily clad girls advertised local brewery. The whole city was gridlocked, but with a bike I could squeeze through it.
Every now and then someone came up to me and treated with a beer, so finally I asked what kind of holiday it was. Assumption of Vigrin Mary!, a boozy man cries out and added: Una buena ocasion por estar boracho! That is, colloquially speaking, a good opportunity to get canned.
The drew into the feast, and, somewhow imperceptibly, the night came, so I decided to stay for the night in town, heading into the first visible hostel. The price per night – one Euro (12-beds room, with only me as a guest). Prices for separate rooms started from two Euros, all were occupied, mostly by the Germans and the Swiss. Microwaving pasta in the kitchen I was amazed to find out that no one sitting in front of their facebook profiles, or playing cards, did not know that there was a festival in the city. I told them that I would be back on the market soon cause it didn’t finish yet. It’s dangerous walking at night, they all say, better to stay at the hotel. Anyway, tomorrow at six in the morning they get up, and go on a jeep tour over the lagoon.
I left Nicaragua very late in the evening, and my first night I spent at Costa Rican police station. What is very noticeable after crossing the border is the lack of buildings. Just a few standing alone mud huts or shattered houses covered with corrugated iron. And between them – lots of hoardings: we sell land, cheap houses and plots, property for sale, etc. After two days of cycling I finally reached the coast, which apparently is owned mostly by Americans. Like the British, or the Russians, redeeming the land on the Spanish coast, the Americans purchasing Costa Rican plots, share a similar view regarding their decision to buy. A simple, very human desire to find a dreaming place to spend one’s retirement. Why not, therefore, in Costa Rica? In a country where it is warm all year round, where the life seems to slow down, where you can gorge on exotic-sounding and even more exotic tasting fruits, where in the shade of palm trees on a beautiful beach you may sip a juice through a straw from a coconut, and finally, where ginger cats enter the tents.
I noticed a new cat only when, with a full stomach, I was about to fall asleep. La gata, says sixty-two years old Emily, who invited me for a cup of coffee, but because in the meantime the storm drew near, I didn’t go anywhere further and stayed overnight. When she was younger, she couldn’t stop miaoing, so my daughter called her ambulancia. I mean, that she just wailed over and over again, she added, seeing that I did not fully understand why the cat was called like that. But it’s a little too long to pronounce, so now we call her ambu, she concluded with a smile.
The cat began with jumping on my lap, and when I immediately dropped her, she began to bite my orange shoelaces. This time, even without the help of a vet I could see myself that this was a female cat, la gata. I finished my coffee, said good night to Emily and barricaded in my tent. Unfortunately, the cat surely wanted to get inside. She jumped between the flysheet and mosquito net, in which she made a few holes – small but large enough for a visit of the colony of ants next evening.
That evening, however, instead of ants there was a cat. After a quarter of frolics I finally pulled her out of the flysheet and threw into the tent. I could forget about sleeping – there were so many new, unfamiliar things to scratch, to bite, to tear, to hunt. I threw her in the end again, but the poignant purring quickly convinced me that that night we sleep together. After another hour she calmed down a little bit, and in the end, came near, bit my beard and buried her claws in it. Her quiet, monotonous purring mingled with intense, vibrating sounds coming from a nearby, tropical forest. Forest at night never sleeps, is full of life, it sleeps during the day that gives solace in the shade.
At night, the forest fills with rowdy lust. All these sounds of chirping, cooing, howling, whimpering, wailing resembling moans, or cries – all of them are magically resonating emblems of seeking solace lust, unsatisfied love, the need for closeness, or maybe they are just a selfish need, driven by instincts, or the most ordinary relief.
The orgiastic sounds of the forest lullabied the cat on my chin. She wakes me up in the morning, purring, gently licking my cheek. Our eyes shine with laugh. Emily makes eggs for breakfast, we eat them together, and drink some coffee. I pack my tent, I would like to say goodbye, but the cat had disappeared, bolted somewhere, we can not find her.
I’m going back on the road, smiling to the world, smiling to myself. I close the eyes, filling my head with dreams; intertwine thoughts in my matted beard, the wind blows on it slightly. I’m going further, I share my thoughts, I share my world. In the evening, I stop by the road and sip some juice from a fruit of a coconut palm. I do not remember what happened yesterday, I do not know what will happen tomorrow.
The juice is delicious, sticks my fingers, refreshes. Maybe that is what will remain from this road. Maybe that is exactly and only thing I should remember. The taste of the fruit of a coconut palm and tangled, sticky claws in my matted beard, scratching me for a good night and a good morning. For agoodmorningandnight. With a sleeping smile in one’s neverending dream.