Sunday, October 31, 2010

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever is something that you read about in Lonely Planet when you go to such places as Thailand and/or Central America and is listed somewhere near Malaria in the 'Infectious Diseases' section in the back.  I remember reading about it when Summer and I went to SE Asia and thinking 'how terrible'...but it 'won't happen to me!'  What are the chances that the mosquito that just bit you has Dengue or Malaria?  haha

Ironically I have only been bitten maybe by 10 mosquitos or less since I arrived in Nicaragua three weeks ago.  And, apparently, one of those mosquitos had Dengue.  I didn't even know I had it until 4 days in.  I just thought I had the flu.  I remember getting a monster headache last Monday night, but taking Advil and going with my roommates to a steakhouse.  The next morning I was up at 7:30, but had the WORST back and neckache.  I just kept taking Advil and sleeping and expecting to wake up fine the next morning.  I didn't get scared until I took my temperature on Thursday night (at Bridget's insistence) and scored a 102.5.  Then I was worried about bacterial meningitis, since I also couldn't touch my chin to my chest.  Bridget convinced me that I didn't want to go to the hospital here, and that 102.5 is OK, it's 104 you have to deal with.  So the next day she visited the local German doctor and explained our symptoms.  (I forgot to mention one of my roommates was suffering the same symptoms as me, and a third started having severe backpain.)  So the three of us went to the lab to have blood taken to be tested.  Bridget thought maybe we had leptospirosis, which exibits all the same symptoms, but is contracted through rat urine, which we weren't sure if we had had any contact with.  I'm kidding, of course we didn't!

At the lab, a nice nurse lady with fake extension nails (a no-no for any nurse in the States) poked my arm and took the blood, and when she was finished, she said, "I need to get you a stitch".  I was like WHA?  Because I can't look when my blood is being drawn.  She meant a Band-Aid, thank goodness.

After that we went to the good German doctor, whose Spanish is better than her English, but when she was examining me and poking around my stomach, I was very embarrassed because she said, "you have the gasses?  Yes, very active gasses." 

She's the one that read the blood test and diagnosed Dengue Fever because my platelets were low and because I have the classic symptoms.  Her entire bill for three visits including very thorough exams?  $19.  All my blood work at the lab so far?  $15.  All of my six prescriptions? $20.  Not too bad, and I think my travel insurance will cover it all. 

Right now I'm on day 6.  My feet and hands are swollen and incredibly itchy.  Dengue sucks!  It hurts SO bad.  They call it "Breakbone" fever because of how painful it is to your joints and bones.  And they're right.  I've never been in this much pain.  Today all I can feel is the itch though.  Mainly my palms and soles of my feet.  I wish I could take a picture of how itchy it is.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New School Lies

When I was in fourth grade, I had to move from Holler Elementary to Falls Elementary, which was the equivalent of moving over to the right side of the tracks.  Holler was a tiny school in South International Falls and it only went to third grade.  So I had no choice but to get on the bus and go ALL the way to International Falls and be in Mrs. Berg's fourth grade class.  And Mrs. Berg was mean.  For some unknown reason, and maybe it was "new kid" syndrome, I started telling all kinds of lies.  I remember two of them distinctly. 

Mrs. Berg had a bulletin board at the back of the class and each week a kid was allowed to decorate it any way they wanted.  I got chosen first, and because I am the sixth of seven kids, there were only probably four or five photos of me up until that point.  So I posted my photos very sparcely across the bulletin board.  Mrs. Berg even asked me if I wanted to put up more photos.  "NO, that's OK,"  I replied as if I had just chosen the very BEST photos of myself from a vast supply.  For some strange reason I opted to also bring in this huge trophy that my dad has with a horse on the top.  Lie # 1:  I told everyone that my dad won the trophy at a rodeo and he won it with me on the horse.  Yes folks, my dad and I tamed those buckin' broncos together, back in the day.  About a month ago I saw that trophy again when we were cleaning out my mom and dad's house and it says in very plain letters on the front "July 27, 1977".  47 days after I was born.  I was a pretty CRAZY newborn.
p.s. nobody believed me.
p.p.s. Mary Frederickson decorated the board the next week and her stuff filled the board so much it was spilling over onto the wall.

Lie # 2:  I guess I must have been embarrassed of my poor kid's clothes, and so I invented the story of the "box of Esprit clothes" under the basement stairs.  Yah, I was just "too busy" to go through them all, and so there they sat, under the basement stairs.  Someday I would "get around to it" and sort through all those Esprit clothes and finally wear some of it to school.  In the meantime, I would just wear this old crap, no big deal.  I still remember Tricia Wherley (whose dad owned Wherley Motors and who had TONS of actual Esprit clothes) reacting to the story with nonbelief and dismissal.  A miracle happened that year when my aunt sent me some clothes from my cousin.  In the package was an Esprit sweater.  Which I then proceeded to wear every day.  Tricia Wherley was indeed surprised.  I still remember being in the bathroom at school and hearing somebody saying  "She really does have Esprit clothes", and Tricia was astounded. Astounded.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

All This Talk About Worms Got me Thinking...

I had a worm.  Once.  In Scotland.  Actually the worm came out in Ireland, but I'm pretty sure I got it in Scotland.  I ordered the smoked salmon salad and didn't realize that smoked salmon was raw and only smoked, not cooked.  I was only like 21 at the time, jeez.  They don't teach that stuff in school in International Falls MN.  Anyway, what I did learn in I. Falls was that you always eat your food.  All of it.  And so a few days later in Ireland I went to the bathroom and found what looked like the inside of an onion ring on the toilet paper.  Like a cooked, invisible (see-through) onion.  I freaked out!  And then I remembered the raw salmon.  For YEARS this was my story and I told it a thousand times. 

Last summer I had a similar inside-of-an-onion ring on my toilet paper, and thought, "O.M.G. I still have that worm from 12 years ago in my body?"  And then I realized I had been eating a TON of grapefruit lately.  And, come to think of it, I had been eating a TON of grapefruit on that trip to Scotland/Ireland.  In other words, I never had a worm, just an undigested piece of citrus fruit posing as a worm.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Flu

So I'm super sick with the flu, which means I called my mom this morning...almost crying.  Of course she said I should come home and she would take care of me, but then she handed me over to dad when her favorite daughter Keri called her back.  Which means we have another Hal-ism!  I was telling him how he shouldn't be worried about me because of the overabundance of real cowboys on real horses patrolling this town.  Of course I'm safe!

He said, "they're the bad ones.  In disguise.  To trick the Americans, who run around and say, 'a real cowboy! a real cowboy! and then...thunk!  An arrow in the back.'"

UPDATE: Jokes on me, I didn't have the flu.  I had Dengue Fever.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pee Pee Pants

Every time I think of this story I laugh and laugh.

My friend peed his pants at school when he was a leetle tiny boy.  His friends were like, "did you pee your pants?"

He was like, "No. mom accidentally washed my jeans with my dad's tuxedo."

The following are the holes I find in his story:
A. Not only did I NOT pee my pants...
B. We are rich and my dad has a tuxedo.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Spanish Lesson

"Coca Cola en bolsa" = Coke in a bag

If you want your Coke cheaper, you have them put it in a bag, so they can keep the glass bottle and recycle it.  Go green!  Also the orange juice is called "Squiz".  heh heh

"Esta Bien" = Good Enough

Fences can pretty much be made out of anything.

"Pampers y tacones" = Diaper and high heels

"Pobrecito" = Poor thing.

"Bien Hecho" = Good Job!

Common parking situation in Esteli.

"Un cabellero verdadero" = A Real Cowboy!

Gallo Pinto

OK take this recipe with a grain of salt (figuratively), because I did it wrong.  Like who makes gallo pinto without even ever having had it before, or seeing what it's supposed to be?  ME, that's who.  Gallo pinto literally translates to "Spotted Rooster".  (remember El Gallo Mas Gallo?)  Really it's just red beans and rice.  Nicaraguans make it and live off it.  For reals.  I have a friend who lived her for a year and that's all she ate.  First, you have to sort your beans, because the bag from the store is likely to have rocks and mud balls and straw in it.  You look for any wrinkled or molded beans and get rid of 'em:

Wrinkled/moldy beans, rock, mud ball, camera strap

Then you rinse the dirt off them three times and then soak them for 12 hours.  Here you can use tap water because you're going to boil the crap out of the beans anyways tomorrow.  Here's the beans soaking:

Then you boil the beans for FOUR HOURS.  No joke.  Boil them for four hours, stirring occasionally.  Add an onion and a bunch of garlic for flavor.  YUM.

Then start new onion and garlic for a saute, because after you boil the beans for FOUR HOURS, you still need to fry them in a pan.  Fry up the beans for a while and reduce the liquid out of it.  I also added Gallo Pinto flavoring which you may not be able to find, and this whole recipe will be moot.  I'm sure the seasoning is like salt, cilantro and onion.*  (The chopped cilantro in the photo is for the rice.) 

Now, don't do what I did, which is add the beans to fluffy Minnesota style rice (with chopped cilantro added once fluffy).  This is the wrong way to do it.  I was warned, but couldn't listen because I chose the wonky fry pan to do the beans and couldn't add the rice to the beans but whatever.  If you do what I did, you will have a delicious meal, but you won't have gallo pinto.

Here you have the finished product.  FANTASTIC.  The other stuff is a veggie fry that I did that is super yum, and it's just like chopped up potato, beets, (start the potatoes and beets first to saute) then as they soften, add carrot, celery, shredded ginger, garlic, and onion.  Add salt and done. 

I put radish in but I don't recommend it for next time.

FUN FACT! Rice without beans has two certain protein parts and beans without rice has the other two certain protein parts, that, put together, makes up the four needed protein parts to get - voila! Perfect protein. Just beans or just rice: and you're not getting complete protein.  No meat, no problem!

Tomorrow I'm going to make it again, but the real way and I'll letcha know how it turns out.  It's with rice that you FRY, not Minnesota fluff.  It's kind of hilarious that I sort of made it like a Minnesota hot dish. 

*Ingredientes: sal, almidon de maiz, glutamato monosodico, cebolla, grasa vegetal, azucar especias, ajo, aroma cilantro artificial, inosinato disodico, dioxido de silicio, sabor especias artificial, extracto de apio. 

You know, "the usual".  p.s yikes, chemical-y!  I'm pretty sure one of those is MSG.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Delicias Loco

Crazy delicious is right.  This is the Carne Desmenuzada I've had for lunch twice now and it's fantastic.  All of the above for somewhere around $2.40.  A coke adds another 50 cents.  The fried banana chips are fantastic.  The veggies are great, but will probably eventually disagree with my stomach (= give me diarhhea and a lasting parasite).  Cabbage is one of the unsafest things to get here at a restaurant, because it might not be washed properly.  But I can't help myself.

Speaking of which, most people who come to Nicaragua get a parasite.  Guess how you have to find out you have one?  You have to poop, get a sample of the poop, bring it to a lab, and then voila!  You find out from a man who has just inspected your poop you brought him.  Then if you have a parasite the doctor gives you an antiparasite.  All this for around $20.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

MTV Cribs

This is where the magic happens.  (I'm on the top bunk.)

This is our clothes line.  My room is off the back of it.  Our house is open to the outside as you can see.  Sometimes it rains and we have to hurry and take clothes down off the line.

This is the dining room, as taken from the kitchen.


Garden seating area.

Living room and Meagan's bedroom.

Garden, open to the outside, as taken from the garden seating area.  (Between dining room and living room.)
I didn't take photos of the two other bedrooms.  But that's pretty much the house.  Bridget has been living here for four years.  The rest of us come and go.  Rent is cheap and includes drinking water, internet, alarm system and twice-per-week cleaning service.

Since there are six of us, everyone is assigned a "cook day" in which they are responsible to make dinner.  On the seventh day we all fend for ourselves, or go out to dinner.  Your "cook day" is also your laundry day, so there isn't any fighting over the washing machine.  So far I have been here a week and I only had to cook dinner once, but have been eating like a king.  It's such a great system.  Also, we put all of our receipts from the grocery store and at some point they'll be tabulated and we'll see who owes what to whom. 

As you know, hanging my laundry to dry in the sun is my favorite activity in the whole world, and so I'm happy we don't have a dryer.  The girls told me it was pretty terrible to be here just a few weeks ago during the worst of the rainy season, when nothing would dry ever.  We've had very decent weather since my arrival, so it's not a problem.  Supposedly we are still in rainy season and we've had a few crazy downpours, but not too bad.

My umbrella gets used every day.  If it's sunny, it protects my alabastar skin (similar to Nicole Kidman's~ haha) and if it's rainy my head doesn't get wet.  Everything else does, but not my head.

Our house is butted up against a very busy street and since there are two open areas (the laundry and the garden) we get a ton of outside noise.  Because of this I am UP AT 7:30 EVERY DAY.  I cant sleep past it!  Hal would be SO PROUD of me.   It also helps that since we are so close to the equator, the sun rises and sets pretty much at the same time all year round.  So it's dark at 6pm.  By the time 10pm rolls aroud, it's time for bed.  So I'm keeping a totally respectable schedule, and I even have time for a nap each day.  Loving the naps. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ready for Another Old Poop Story?

I really can't believe I haven't blogged this one yet.  It comes from 1989 (give or take). 

My friend Maija and I were babysitting at a friend's house and we were playing pool after the kids went to bed. I was twelve.  Maija was always a lot cooler than me, in many ways, but this story has to do with her ability to fart on command.  So she farted, on command, and I was pretty jealous.  I decided it couldn't be that hard to do, and started trying to push a fart out.  Pushing and pushing and...suddenly I had to RUN to the bathroom.

Up the stairs I ran.  Into the bathroom.  Whipped down my shorts.  Sat down.  I thought for sure I had crapped my pants.  I looked in my underwear.  Nothing.  I looked in my shorts.  Nothing.  I looked everywhere.  Nothing.  Hmmm.  Curious.

But then I saw, on the OUTSIDE of my shorts, a tiny turd.

It's like my fart blew so fast through my underwear and shorts that it didn't have time to solidify until it made it safely outside.  I don't know?  You tell me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

El Gallo Mas Gallo

So I am staying in Esteli, Nicaragua for about 6 weeks.  (Pronounced estel-EE).  In order to tell the taxi driver where I live, I have to say "by the El Gallo mas Gallo", which is a store that sells mattresses and washing machines.  Naturally.  (You maybe have thought it sells chicken, like I did.  But you, like me, would be INCORRECT.)  Anyway, El Gallo mas Gallo means: "The rooster, more rooster."

Or, "The Roosterin'est Rooster."  Naturally.
If you're wondering if I'm safe and stuff...yes.  Kind of.  I'm living with 5 other girls.  There was a break-in, but it was months ago when everybody was away for the weekend.  Poverty here dictates that there is going to be theft, but fortunately it's rarely rarely violent theft.  Mostly people break in when they know the house is empty.  The landlord here installed an alarm system after the break-in, and so now it's a little safer.  On our street there is supposedly a gang of young kids who hang out and sometimes rob people, so I avoid going that way and I don't carry a lot of cash.  For the most part, people are extremely friendly and helpful (and patient with my terrible grasp of their Spanish language.)  Of course I've only been here three full days.  More to follow on that.

Some weird things I've seen:
  • Men standing on the street with their shirts up, bellies exposed, hands on bellies.
  • Drunk men entering homes (not mine) and spitting on the floor before being politely asked to leave.
  • Full-on cowboys riding up and down the streets on horses.
  • Cows tied up on sides of roads, and a bull wandering aimessly.
  • A baby boy who looks just like an adult sumo wrestler.
Some weird things I've heard about:
  • Regular people spitting on Bridget's floor.

Tomorrow I'm very excited to start my first Spanish tutor lesson.  He's coming at 3:00.  I'm glad too because I went into a store the other day, and the worker was eating lunch.  He stopped eating and put his plate aside to help me.  Since I was only browsing I wanted to tell him to just go ahead and eat, no problem.  All I could think of to say was, "comenzo comida"  which actually means "I begin food."
I need HELP!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Zip Line

Facing fears yet again as I signed my life away and strapped on a crazy harness designed to keep me from plummeting to my death. 

The harness itself is pretty hilarious.  It has to go over your shoulders and so it sort of hikes up into your crotch really tight.  This is embarrassing and uncomfortable.  See photo.  I think it sort of looks like my crotch is eating the harness, kinda like when you stretch out a piece of gum and then bite it in the middle and keep biting until both ends get into your mouth. 

It looks no better in the back.  Check it out.  When I had to return it at the end I told the guy it might be a little wet because I may have peed a little bit.

Here I am walking a tight rope.  I kind of lost most of my fear because the harness was super safe, and they had ten extra safety measures and so I never really felt like I was in danger.  I was still scared of heights in the way that I was scared of heights when I went to the top of the Jing Mao tower in Shanghai, standing behind very safe glass, but looking down nonetheless.

I got the hang of it really fast.

Twice I got stuck out on a line.  The first one was not very steep and we were told to keep a hand on the line.  I must have pushed down to hard because I stopped 30 feet from the end.  I had to turn around and hand-over-hand it back.  The second time I swung like Tarzan from one tree to the next, and didn't grab the guys hand properly and so I swung back in between the two trees and just hung there for a while.  They had to haul me in.

This next photo is of my friend B.J.  As you can see, when you get done with the zip line, a man is there to receive you.  He unhooks your caribeaner from the line itself.  Then he hooks you to the safety rope on the platform, and then he unhooks the extra safety harness and ties that up.  But look at how B.J. intelligently put both of his knees to one side so that he didn't have an embarrassing episode of straddling the man.  I wasn't so fortunate.  Everytime I ended my zip, I ended up with both knees past the man's hips, on either side.  And I was suspended in air, so it was quite "intimate".  After a few times I learned that I could sort of swing a knee around and avoid the situation, but of course I wasn't that smart straight out of the gate.

Another thing you can see from the next photo is that the lines are way high up from the platforms.  So, me being 5'2", they had to hoist me into the air every time to hook up my harness to the wire.  Also they had to hoist me at the end to unhook my harness from the wire.  And so my crotch got yanked like a hundred times.  Plus it was already so tight up in there.  Yes, highly embarrassing and uncomfortable.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Mansion on Laguna de Apoyo

After the boat tour with the crazy monkey, we left Granada and went to stay on a Lagoon that was formed by a volcano.  It's completely surrounded by mountains (one of which is Mombacho) and has the clearest water ever.  We stayed in a rented house (only $150 per night, split between 10 people, or $15 each.)  Amazing.  Good food, good friends, good weather. 

The garden:

The view from the lenai:  (I got that word from the Golden Girls.  No idea how to spell it.)

The lounge/kitchen/spiral staircase:

The outdoor bathroom:

The view from the garden:

The infinity pool and the lagoon:

Dining room:


I saw the elderly Nicaraguan gentleman again today.  He called me "K-Mart".

Random and amazing facts about my mom and dad

My mom stole a rosary at Catholic School.  (Or, the nuns found one and asked whose it was, and nobody said it was theirs so my mom said, "it's mine".)  She got caught because she made up an elaborate story to her mom about winning it at school that day.  Her mom mentioned that to the nun and whamo!  Busted.

My mom wore shorts under her school uniform so she could be a tomboy on the playground.

My dad won a twist contest at school when he was 16.

My mom got in trouble in high school one day because the gym door was open and she saw my dad and whistled at him.

My dad leaves voicemail for me like this: "Hal Hexum. International Falls." Then he says the rest of his message. i.e. "I don't understand why people have cell phones and then they don't answer them."

They got married when they were 17 and 19.

My mom wanted to be a gym teacher.

My dad wanted to be a horse wrangler.

Instead they got married and had a bunch of brats.  They have had a fight just about every single day since October 15, 1966, but also I frequently catch them holding hands and my dad still calls my mom 'Sweetheart'.  Now they are retiring to their cabin and getting horses and a sleigh so they can take a romantic sleigh ride every night.  They are also getting goats and chickens but to me that doesn't seem very romantic.  Anyway,

Happy 44th Anniversary Hal and Dianne!

Kay Kady Kay

Today I met an elderly Nicaraguan gentleman who asked my name.  I said "Kady", but pronounced it in my best Spanish-speaker accent which ends up sounding like "Kah-AY-dee".  He didn't quite get it, so I said, "como Lady", (sounded like "como lah-AY-dee", and como is the word for 'like', so, you know...Kady, like 'lady'.)  Then he said, "uau (wow), su nombre es (your name is) Lady. uau."  My friend jumped in and said, "no, con una K (with a K)."

He said, "OH!!  Como K-Mart!!"

That's me.
Like K-Mart.

In fact, just call me "Big K".

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Risked my Life to Take this Photo

I see so many problems with this kind of big toe nail. 

1)  Can't wear tennis shoes.
2)  Can't wear socks.
3)  Can't run in bare feet.
4)  Can't get that pesky pinky toenail to stay stuck on.
5)  Can't pee in a public restroom without having a photo of your foot taken.

In the end I was able to get a photo without much ado.  The worst part of this whole scenario is that my camera flashed.  I thought maybe I could get away with the sound only...but then the flash happened.  Not to mention that it is completely illegal to take photos in public restrooms.  (duh).  I pictured that lady getting up and then wiping and then kicking the crap out of me.  Without washing her hands first.  Cuz a lady with that kind of pedicure ain't messin' around.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Monkey Boat

My first day here in Nicaragua Bridget brought me on her famous boat tour of Granada's Lake Nicaragua.  She's done it so many times and brought so many people that she's on a first name basis with the boat operator (Brian.  His number is even in her cell phone.) 

Also, she takes over the speaking part of the tour. She cracked me up when she started talking about which famous person owns which island (like the owner of Nescafe), and what year the Spanish Fort was built to protect the interior of the country and yada yada. We ended up pulling up to an island where four monkeys were; apparently a vet put them there to live.  They are taken care of by the vet, but also enjoy cookies brought by all the boat tours.

The views of mount Mombacho were insane from the boat:

Our tour guide...

Tona (pronounced Tone-ya), the local beer.

Then the monkey comes onto the boat, and you feed it your cookies.  This "female" monkey has some kind of weird tube-shaped tissue structure coming out of her butt.  I suspect that she pooped her butthole out, which I have heard can happen if you push too hard.  Nothing a little plastic surgery wouldn't clear right up?

Monday, October 11, 2010


These two goofballs with the T-Shirts on the outsides of their coats just got married on October 9th. 


Maybe it is a How-Not-To Blog

How NOT to take a self-portrait:

This is a little better:

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