Coffee, Carlos, churches, Paul, Laura and the bicitaxistas...
The clock rings, it’s 7:30. We roll out of bed and suddenly remember our friends from the night before and switch to tiptoeing around the room (as if that really makes a difference).
We’re off to find some breakfast and coffee. Especially coffee. One doesn’t sleep so well when having dreams of cockroaches laying eggs in your ears…
We retrace our steps back to the same cluttered office, looking for the young man in charge of transport in the city. At the desk that had been empty the day before is a man in his seventies with a full head of white hair. A little confused we ask around for Carlos. The older man stands up and asks us with a stern tone “who’s asking for him?” We realize that he’s the man we’re looking for and explain our presence. His frown immediately leaves his forehead. “Where are you from?” “A bit from France and mostly from Quebec, Canada” “Oooh France! The French language is so beautiful! It’s the language of business and negotiations!” “Really?” “Si Si! And Italian is the language of love, and Spanish is for socializing! And English…well…” He didn’t seem to care much for English.
After choosing a spot for the interview, we prepare to turn on the camera when he pulls me aside. “You’re not going to be asking any political questions about the government are you? Because I can’t talk about that on camera”. We reassure him. The interview was quick, efficient and he was very accommodating and pleasant. Although, he did ask if I was single three times, and then laughed and said he was happily married when I told him Etienne and I were together. Strange ending to an interview.
Next stop: the highest point in the city in order to take an aerial view of its streets. What is the highest point in every small city of Central America?? The church, of course! Since the church itself is deserted, we walk into the church’s small library to ask about climbing up the bell tower. Two women greet us with a puzzled look. I guess they don’t see many tourists in that 10 feet by 10 feet library. We ask them if it's possible to climb the bell tower in order to take some photos of the city. The two women look at each other silently for what seems like an eternity. This question is obviously unusual, and it appears that they hadn’t had the opportunity to think about it before. Eventually, the older woman nods and explains that the door at the bottom of the tower remain open all the time.
We walk up to the worn metal door. As we pull it open, it lets out a sharp screech as if its old bones hurt from the movement. We walk up the tightly curved stairs, using my cell phone as a flashlight to guide our steps. As we walk up, more and more pigeon feathers appear through the darkness on the stairs. At the top, we understand that an entire pigeon had been ripped apart since the rest of its cadaver lay in a corner of the tower.
From the top, we can see the central park and most of the city. A line of bicitaxistas line a corner of the park. Some steaming hot dog stands and multicolored juice stands can be seen through the trees. We can see ourselves having breakfast that morning at the restaurant in front of the park. A few shots and we’re back down in the street.
I pull out Elvis’ number from my pocket and start dialing. The last step of our work in this city is interviewing a bicitaxista about his experience and ideas about his work. The phone doesn’t make a ringing noise when I’m done dialing. O oh…I try again. Nope. As we had thought, he forgot one digit of his phone number. Damn it! That means more work because we have to go on a search for a bicitaxista that will 1) be willing to be interviewed with the camera, 2) will know enough about the situation to talk about it in detail and be talkative in front of the camera, 3) will have a Spanish that we can understand. We head towards the group of bicitaxistas that we had noticed form the top of the church. The same guys are still chatting and waiting for clients. Out of four guys, only two are willing to talk. Great! We turn on the camera and as we start asking them questions, an older woman with a bag of groceries sits down in the bicitaxi of the guy who seemed the most talkative. Bad timing but oh well. The one who's left answers in very short sentences and appears intimidated by the camera. His face stays stone cold serious despite our attempt to put him at ease by making (bad) jokes. We thank them and decide that we’re going to take a break.
We want to try to meet up with our friends, Laura and Paul, who are just passing through Rivas for a couple hours to take a bus back to Costa Rica. We know that they’re supposed to be in the Central Park area while waiting to catch their bus but we don’t know exactly where. We remember what a man from the hotel had told us earlier about a panaderia with wifi and we decide to check our emails to see if they have written to us about where they’ll be. As we walk into the panaderia, we see a white couple sitting at a desk near the back of the room. They had also ended up there, hoping to read their emails to see if we’d written to them. Tout est bien qui finit bien! They tell us of their adventures on Ometepe island, which, for Laura, mostly involved thouroughly exploring the bathroom and staying in a cockroach-infested hospital. Pobrecita!
After a delicious coffee, Etienne and I decide to give it one last attempt to get a good group interview with some bicitaxistas. Right outside the panaderia is a stand where there are around twenty lined up. We walk up to one of the men standing there waiting. After a minute we’re interviewing five of them and there are another five bicitaxistas standing around us watching the interview go on.
We head back to our hotel to get our stuff, in order to start finding out about catching a microbus to León. Laura and Paul accompany us since their bus will be passing by near our hotel. One last beer together and we say goodbye, after having spent to great weeks travelling all together. Hasta luego, en el frio!