Monday, May 25, 2015

Nica Scene: Joyita

When i first started mountain biking with my friend K and her team of teens, she told me she didn't ride alone on certain roads on Sundays. Since Sundays are the only days many people have off from work, it's the day when a lot of men on country roads are wasted -- and that's not a good scene for a single gringa riding an expensive mountain bike alone.

But dusty campo roads are not the only places you'll find people wasted on Sundays.

Yesterday afternoon, a Sunday, was hot and unusually humid. Just rain already, we say in our heads, willing the sweet wet drops to fall so we can all get some relief. In the heat of the day, it was all i could do to lie on the couch in front of a fan.

That is, until some neighbor guys decided to post up on the balcony that overlooks the arroyo (drainage ditch) just outside my house. In the U.S., this affront would be akin to a bunch of neighbors sitting on the sidewalk in front of your house. In the U.S., a peek outside your window would encourage them to move on. It's public property, but it's just not something people tend to do.

But in Nicaragua, i chalk the difference up to the Sandinistas and to Joyita.

The Sandinistas

In 1979, Sandinista rebels took control of the government from the longstanding Somoza dynasty-dictatorship. On the heels of that effort, the notion of community property -- a natural inclination for a communist Sandinista party -- took root. For soon-to-be corrupt Sandinista leaders, it meant seizing nice homes for their own. For the average José who drinks on Sundays, it meant anything that was not locked down, guarded, or behind the tall walls of a compound was community property. Including their crops -- and that sucked for them.

And including, of course, the balcony outside someone else's house.


Joyita, meanwhile, meaning little jewel, is a sugarcane-based alcohol that costs about 60 cents. It comes in a plastic bottle and renders even the most well-mannered Nicaraguan into a shifty-eyed, slobbering mess in record time. In China, its equal is baijiu, a white spirit that tastes like bottled lightning. In the U.S., its equivalent is moonshine. Joyita's taste may be tolerable, but its effects are terrible.

And then of course is my temper.

I am hot and resting and outside are four dudes drinking Joyita on my balcony, yelling and slurring and just generally being annoying -- so annoying that they don't dare sit in front of their own mamita's house. Nicaraguans are typically not confrontational, but occasionally i am -- especially in the heat of the day.

First i asked them to leave politely. The youngest of the lot, who didn't appear drunk, said disculpe and waved me off. I thought that meant they were leaving.

Twenty minutes and much Joyita later, i wasn't so nice about it. By that time the youngest was also slurry-eyed and wobbling, attesting to the speed at which Joyita brought her little jewels to the man's liver. I lost it on them, yelling as Nicaraguan mamitas rarely do, and yet they still didn't leave. For the most part i hold back on this kind of temper, knowing it makes me look like the foolish, over-expectant foreign lady, but sometimes i don't.

They didn't actually leave until two of them got in a fight, one fell off the balcony railing (onto the balcony and not into the arroyo, thank goodness) and several mamitas came to haul them off. That was quickly followed by crying, shouting, cajoling, hugging, and general mayhem along our sidewalk for the next hour... all while one of the mens' children and wife huddled around the balcony corner waiting for the dust to settle.

I'm fine with community property being used as a hangout for a woman and her scared kids... but not the men drinking Joyita...

When you buy roller blinds from Australia's OzBlinds, you'll be able to filter out the hot sun -- but probably not the guys just outside the window.  Still, something to beat the heat would be great on my big door-windows!

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