January 22 - 24, 2005

After a long, but gorgeous, ride north from Mal Pais to the Nicaraguan border at Penas Blancas we made a pretty wild crossing into Nicaragua.  Pat and Mike hoofed it to the border while Ruthie and Stacy got onto some sort of golf cart, and then Pat carried Stacy across.  It all made for a pretty funny picture of us all in front of the "Benvenidos a Nicaragua" sign. Both the Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans at the border were very helpful in light of Stacy's broken leg, aside from one ass head taxi driver who wouldn't take no for an answer.  However, ass headedness aside, he was a fairly witty guy, who in response to our telling him to get lost, retorted that we should get lost because he was Nicaraguan, and we weren't, and that Nicaragua was his country not ours.  For good measure, he also popinted out that we were in fact in Nicaragua and not the United States.  It was a very "I'm not stupid, you're stupid," moment, but funny nonetheless, and even funnier in Spanish.  Anyway, maybe you needed to be there to appreciate it.

After a short ride to San Jorge we were graciously taken in by Stan and Cindy Benkert, who had never even met us, but are friends of one of the partners at Ruthie's firm.  After some delicious fresh made "Naca" tamales, and a trip to the local saloon, we were fast friends.  Stan and Cindy's young jack of all trades employee, Juan, was a lsoa  great edition to the party and a perfect person to practice Spanish with in that he wanted to practice his English just as badly.

After some needed rest, we went on a mad goose chase for crutches for Stacy (who had been hopping or being carried by Pat for several days), but unbelievably, they don't seem to exist in Nicaragua.  About as close as came was some poor disabled man who muast have seen the desperate look in our eyes because he couldn't seem to get away from us fast enough . . . after Pat and Stacy took a picture with him of course.  Cindy was quite the saint for driving us all over Rivas in our quest.  At any rate, we got the chance to see every corner of Rivas, which is about as nuts and bolts of a small Latin American city as you will ever find.  A few cool local markets, a central square, shops and of course a bull ring, which unfortunately we missed the oppurtinity to attend on Sunday.  Mike still thinks Ruthie and Cindy lied to him about the event time to stop him from going and jumping in the ring with the bulls and the locals. Apparently there is always a 100 person deep line to get in, but if you're a gringo they push you right up front!  Pat was probably even more pissed though because you could him salavating over the prospect of Mike getting gored on camera. No worries, there will be many more Latin American cities, and many more bull fights! You can't keep a crazy gringo down.

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