Wednesday, February 29, 2012

In Managua

My mom, dad, and myself, before departing LAX at 5am-ish
The northern shore of Cuba.

Approaching Managua, Volcan Momotombo (I think) and it´s miniature island version, La Niña, looming in the distance
So I´m alive. And this keyboard is difficult to navigate, what with its funky setup and all. Anyway, I touched down a bit after sunset, grabbed a cab with a really cute Norwegian named Anna, and headed into Barrio Martha Quezada, on the west side of Managua. Descending in the plane was awe-inspiring, as the city appeared from out of all the dark green and black mountains below the plane, with a large volcano looming in the misty distance. Literally, there was this haze that made the sundown clouds amazing.

The peculiar, delicious, and ultimately stomach-unsettling first Nicaraguan meal

I had my first meal last night at a neighborhood fritanga, Doña Pilar´s, which is an evening-only restaurant serving up tasty enchiladas and meats. I had juicy but salty carne asada cuts, the ¨enchilada¨, which was actually a fried tortilla housing rice and steamed pork (I think), and not the usual Mexican version we´re so used to in San Diego. I made the mistake of drinking a fruit juice with most likely non-purified ice, and it was a strange flavor and texture. They call it ¨naranja tamarindo¨, and it has the consistency of boba balls, but in juice form. The girl serving it took a hammer to a block of ice in less-than-sanitary conditions, leading to my stomach rebelling a few hours ago and lancing out my first meal of today. Following that, I went to a darkened bar and had a few shots of Nicaraguan Flor de Caña rum and a bottle of Coke, but did not end up engaging in any meaningful, intellectual conversation, unlike my experience in Argentina. Strike 1 for Managua.

View from my hostel room.

Cold shower #1 of my journey. At least it´s not with a bucket! 

Nearby street - complete with honking cars, risky pedestrians, and all manner of vehicles sharing the road.

 This morning I walked to a place called, ¨Licuado Ananda¨, which served me the plato del día, consisting of slightly curried rice, platano chips (which are delicious), a fried mystery patty of what I think was beans and other stuff, and a disgustingly bland mash-up of vegetables that has the texture and temperature of the version I upchucked.

Anyway, I wanted to go to San Carlos, which is a bumpy, gruelling 9 hour ride to the Southeastern jungled border with Costa Rica, but after realizing the bus terminal I had to go to is all the way across town, I´m instead going to Masaya, to peek into an active volcano crater. Not a bad alternative, I´d say.

All for now, more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Packing Light for a Central American adventure

I've just completed packing, and I leave my house in literally 1.5 hours—at 3:30 am. Despite my doubts, I successfully packed my military backpack with all the stuff I'll need for 5 weeks, without cutting out too many items. My goal was to pack light, within 22 lbs., and I believe it's around that weight. Here's my "light" load for 5 weeks in Central America:

Clothes (all of which, minus the wifebeaters, I treated with permethrin to repel mosquitos and harmful insects)

  • 2 wifebeaters
  • 1 black t-shirt
  • 1 black, collared shirt
  • 1 white, collared, short sleeve button-down
  • 1 gray/plaid button down long sleeve
  • 1 long-sleeve "jungle" shirt (special wicking/structural properties)
  • 1 pair of "jungle" pants (military-grade khakis)
  • 1 pair of black trousers
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 6 pairs cotton/blend socks
  • 1 pair thick, long wool socks (for jungle excursions, extra leg protection in case of snake attack or misc. arthropods getting curious)
  • 4 pairs briefs
  • 1 pair hiking boots
  • 1 pair leather tennis shoes
  • 1 pair rubber sandals (for the showers and beaches)
  • 1 pair swim trunks
  • 1 pair Speedos (for any jungle/river/Central America swimming, I'm being extra careful)
Electronic Supplies
  • camera cable for uploading
  • 2 USB flash drives (4 & 8 gigs)
  • 16 AA batteries (my camera eats them like sushi)
  • 3 AAA batteries (backing up my head lamp)
  • Climbing headlamp
Books / Stationary
  • Lonely Planet: Nicaragua
  • D!rty Spanish (to practice some common phrases in Spanish)
  • Leather-bound journal
  • Planner
  • Misc paperwork
  • 5 or 6 pens
Toiletries / Vision
  • Electric shaver
  • Contact solution
  • 3 pairs of contacts
  • Eyeglasses
  • Sunglasses
  • 1 pair swim goggles 
  • Nail clippers, file
  • Double-sided emergency mirror
  • Car bubble mirror (for those hard-to-see places)
  • Mini pack towel (1 oz.)
  • Protection
  • Asthma inhaler
  • Insect repellant (100% DEET)
  • 6 Ziploc quart-sized bags
  • 1 black large garbage bag
  • plastic bag
  • Calculator
  • ball of string
  • scissors
  • First Aid kit, including magnesium fire starter, antacid, wilderness aid book
  • Permethrin-treated mosquito net with 324 holes/in.
  • compact down sleeping bag (2.2 lbs.)
  • inflatable travel pillow (6.5 oz.)
  • A few other's late
That pretty much sums up what I need for my travel. I'll try and write soon after touching down in Managua, but no guarantees as to a.) my travel plans b.) my accommodation for the first night c.) my access to the Interwebs whilst travelling. Here's a picture.

That's all for now, assuredly more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nicaragua is approaching...

Where did Nicaragua come from? The realization that I will be leaving this country didn't strike me until last week, but I have not reacted much to it until today. I've gathered most of the supplies I need, started my malaria pills, and now have a race to finish some errands and San Diego-based tasks before departure.

As far as recording The Dread Crew of Oddwood's new album, Heavy Mahogany, we're pretty much finished tracking, and now begin the ever-important mixing phase, where a trusted, third-party friend will bring out the energy from our music and bury bad tracks, of which there are very few on this album. And I will be in the country for none of it. I will have an outside hand in the say of the final mixes, mostly through long, arduous e-mailing between bandmates. I may sneak in a few international phone calls. Oh! and the Kicstarter for the album went very successfully—we raised over $7,000, or 150%. If you helped out and just happen to find my blog, thank you!

I will post again before I leave, including a picture of my packed supplies. I hope you share this journey with others and follow my blogs all the way through Central America these next five weeks. I will be gone from February 28th–April 5th; that's 37 days spent in whatever manner best suits the environment, and a hot, humid one at that.

All for now, more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The weekend

This weekend was phenomenal, and somewhat noteworthy. The schedule was hectic: Friday afternoon we drove to Yuma, AZ, spent the night in a couple mobile trailers straight out of the 70's. We woke up Saturday morning to play a series of acoustic pirate shows for Two Rivers Renaissance Festival, left immediately after our last one bound for San Diego, ate at Los Reyes Mexican Food again, drove to our show venue (Brick by Brick), played an incredible show to a mostly music-loving audience of 200-ish people opening for Stolen Babies, watching their tight set, joining the stage to play one of their most popular tunes and socialized. At 2:30am Sunday morning, we packed all our gear into the van, set our course for Yuma, and played another groggy day of mostly good shows, wrapping up with a peaceful ride back to San Diego.

My gastronomic endeavors came up a bit short on the healthy side: three mouth-watering burritos, 5 rolled tacos with guacamole, an entire bag of kettle corn, two "curry-wurst", sauerkraut, some soda (which is now way to sweet for me), a few kinds of ales, whiskey, lots of water, and some delicious home-made pastries.

Travel to Nicaragua:
As many of you already know, I am leaving our beautifully chaotic country for a little solo exploration of foreign culture. Central America is the place of my next learning spree.

I leave February 28th bound for Managua, Nicaragua's formerly violent, earthquake-rocked capital. I have a 12-hour flight schedule, throwing me into the city at roughly 7 in the evening. I'll need to set-up accommodation arrangements first thing, then eating arrangements, finally bar arrangements. My itinerary once in Nicaragua is yet to be established, but I have some idea of what I want to do.

I'd like to head East straight into the dense rainforest jungles, which blossom with impressive plants, trees, tropical birds, horrifyingly large arachnids, and some snakes. There is a rare chance of actually spotting a jaguar, even rarer if he's a black panther. If I do spot one before it spots me, I'll most likely soil myself.

Following my intimate brush with nature, I'll continue doing just that along the swift, mud-colored rivers of the Rio San Juan, perhaps taking a boating excursion up the Caribbean coast to Bluefields, a very mixed port of Creole, Miskito, and English-speaking people, formerly a buccaneer haven.

That's all I know for now, but somewhere in there I'll include trekking several active volcanoes, cloud forests replete with nature's hidden gems, some coffee/banana/cacao plantations and highlands cities.
Better start my malaria medication!

All for now, more for later. Until then, this is Drew Peters.