Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The legend of Montezuma.

One of the legends we learned about at the museum yesterday was Montezuma or Moctezuma as it’s often spelt in these parts. Around here, Montezuma is famous for his gold which the Spanish tried to steal. But back home, Montezuma is more famous for his revenge – the dreaded traveller’s diarrhea with which Montezuma supposedly cursed all visitors in revenge. And we thought we were free and clear but the legend of Montezuma revisited us in the middle of the night. After more than a week it was no obvious that this was something more than a bad meal. And it was time to go to the doctor.

We got up and told Stefania the bad news. The Pacific would have to wait for us. We asked at the desk about finding an English-speaking doctor and were told that finding one in Leon would be difficult but maybe in Managua. Managua was an hour away and with out any clue where to go in the city, it seemed daunting. However, Gemma recommended that we go to the pharmacy down the street and they should be able to give us some drugs. We decided to weigh our options while checking out the museums that were closed yesterday. I know, I know but we’d lived with Montezuma for almost 10 days so what was a few more hours going to do.

The first stop was the Centro de Arte (photo above) – an impressive building, actually two buildings, that covered two blocks behind the central park. But once again no pictures were allowed inside so you’ll just have to take my word for it. The gallery was impressive, including art from all over Central America. From religious colonial art right up to present day artists. It even had a small room of numbered prints from Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and Tanguay. This time a guard followed us from room to room, turning off the lights when we left. At one point I lost Adrian inside and had to go back into rooms, and the guard ran after me to turn the lights on and off. I guess they hadn’t heard of motion detectors in Central America.

When we finally finished up at the Centro de Arte, we popped into the Ruben Dario museum next door. We didn’t know anything about him but he was Nicaragua’s most famous writer. A poet famous for his numerous books of poetry. The small museum didn’t help us learn much more either but we did find out that he was tricked into marrying one of his wives when he was drunk and caught in bed with her, which made him suddenly much more interesting. But since neither us could appreciate Spanish poetry that was it for the museum.

I had mentally prepared myself for a conversation in Spanish about our medical condition so off to the pharmacy it was. The first one we hit was joined to the hospital but after waiting in line for half an hour they told us they couldn’t help us. They were only dispensing prescriptions. But they sent us around the corner to another one. There the super patient pharmacist listened to my horrible Spanish description of our symptoms and asked super clear and simple questions before then giving us some antibiotics. I asked her to repeat the directions probably four times just to make sure that I got it right. She wished us well and reminded us to drink lots of gaterade and stay hydrated. We crossed our fingers and hoped whatever horse pills she gave us would kill whatever was in our stomachs. And then we mourned the end of $1.50 mojitos. Unfortunately, alcohol and antibiotics don’t mix.

Back at the hostel, Stefania had already left for the beach. But we talked to the other old fart there, a criminology professor from Memphis who was in Nicaragua for two weeks of research on the justice system. It was nice to have conversation about something other than travel even if it was about crime and the recession. He told us in Memphis 20% of homes are in foreclosure and the university he works at is cutting down money by taking every other lightbulb out. But he admitted it was nothing compared to the poverty in Central America. He actually got angry when talking about what he called bums – foreign kids that come down and don’t think twice about begging for food or money or rides from the locals who earn less in a year than the kids have in their pockets. This was actually the first place we’d seen that on our trip. I wondered if it had anything to do with the growing number of beach bums we were seeing the further south we were heading. I guess we’d find out tomorrow as we had decided to head further inland to Leon.

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