I met up with several other volunteers at the Los Pinos hotel, where we would be starting off our fancy night. By fancy, I mean that we split two beds between four people. But, the hotel had air conditioning! And a pool! For Peace Corps standards, we were going all out tonight. By 3 PM, I jumped into the pool with the other volunteers. They were all drinking the Victoria beers and catching up. I did laps. It’s a pretty common scene, where my friends all get together but I end up doing something else in the background. It had been a while since I’d been in such a nice pool, and I wanted to take advantage of it. Managua is hotter than ever nowadays, and swimming in the pool felt heavenly. Later that night, we sang happy birthday to Casey, and Lindsay presented him with his birthday cake that said C $ (which stands for cordobas, the monetary unit here). We ate homemade spaghetti and red sauce for dinner, and finished it with the cake with vanilla icing and colorful sprinkles. I was so grateful to take a break from the typical rice and beans I eat every day.
By 8:30, we decided to head out to the concert. The hotel staff told us that we could walk to the concert in 10 minutes, so we ventured out. We ended up walking for over 20 minutes against highway traffic to get to the stadium. People in bright green vests whistled at us and shoved tickets in our faces. “We already have ours, thanks!”, we replied. We made it to the gate to exchange our confirmation numbers for our tickets, and the staff said that we had to go to another booth. We did, and the staff had us wait a while because their printer broke. They had to hand-write all of our receipts. By 9 PM, we entered the stadium. The concert was supposed to have started at 8, but this is Nicaragua. Everyone knew better than to be on time. A local group began playing Nicaraguan music, and it began to rain. We were in the section with the concrete bleachers. In front of us, a group of employees were making rum cocktails. I noticed the bags of ice they had emptied out, so I asked to take one to cover my head. It began to rain so much that it felt obsolete, so I wrapped my purse in the bag to protect my phone.
I was anxious that the concert would be cancelled. Then, people began dancing in the rain. I kicked off my sandals along with everyone else, and we danced to cumbia music in the rain. Once the opening band finished playing, the screen went completely black. We waited and waited for Enrique. By 11:30, he still hadn’t come on stage. I was shivering from the cold. My jumpsuit was drenched, and I wanted to go home. Kim and I huddled together and reflected on our service. We talked about what it was like for me to go home, as well as the challenges and rewards we experience. She lives about 6 hours from Managua, so I was happy to get a chance to see her. She is a very confident, inspiring woman who shares her passion for teaching with me. We were in the middle of just another deep conversation about what we’re doing with our lives, and then Enrique finally came on. He sang his most recent songs, like “El Perdon” and “Bailando”. We also jammed out to his very first songs from the late 90’s and ‘00s. It felt like a flashback concert for me. As a kid, I enjoyed the Spanish feel of “Bailamos”. I also giggled and wondered, why would you ask someone if you could please be their “Hero”? What does that even mean? In any case, it was a magical night, as we danced and smiled with strangers from Nicaragua, Norway, and Germany. I never thought a concert would go on despite the rain, and I never thought I’d actually be dancing in the rain. The bright lights shone through the rain, illuminating it, as if to say “we won’t stop for anything, not even you, rain!”.
About halfway through the concert, the lights went out. About a minute later, the lights came back on, and there was Enrique, thirty feet in front of us on a mini stage. It was a mad rush to the fence, as girls screamed “Que guapo!” and climbed over the 15-foot fence to be closer to him. It was chaotic but no one got hurt, that I saw. He sang a couple songs, and I squinted to see him. I’m near sighted and didn’t have my glasses on, so I just imagined that his face looked the exact same way it did 15 years ago. He’s like the male version of Halle Berry. He just doesn’t age. Men and women’s camera’s lit up all over the arena to document this event. I was glad I hadn’t brought my camera, because doing so just distracts me from being in the moment. Everyone knows what Enrique looks like, and this story is enough proof that I went. After dancing and jumping for an hour, I forgot that I’d been so cold. It was an unforgettable night. Emily and I just smiled at each other as if to say, “Yup, we are dancing in the rain at an Enrique concert in Nicaragua. It’s just another day”. A year ago, I had no idea I’d be doing this.
We left just before it ended to avoid the crowds, and danced up the stairs. We then walked back down the highway amidst an impressive amount of traffic and tiny taxis nearly overflowing with people. We took a cab back home and I crashed by 2 AM. 4 hours later, I woke up to get ready for the day. I ate some watermelon and walked briskly to the UCA bus station, since there were no cabs I could call at this hour. I took an expreso van to Masaya to teach STEP, which is an English class for Nicaraguan English teachers. Most Nicaraguan English teachers don’t have anyone to practice their English with, so this is a great opportunity for them to get better at speaking and writing in English. I sipped on a huge can of Java Monster Coffee, and the taste of the chemicals overwhelmed me. I’m so much more sensitive to chemicals. I didn’t need Taurine or Guarine in my body, just some caffeine for moral support. Since Nicaraguans aren’t as germaphobic as Americas, I gave the rest of it to the guy sitting next to me. It’s more socially acceptable to do this kind of thing here, because it’s bad to waste anything that someone else might enjoy. He couldn’t handle the chemicals either. After a few sips, he put it away in the pouch in front of him.
I ended up teaching and grading tests from 8 until 3, then I joined Corey and Emily to finish off the weekend at the Laguna de Apoyo. It’s a volcanic crater that filled with water. It’s also my favorite place in Nicaragua, because it’s quiet, clean, and insanely beautiful. I checked into my dorm room at the Laguna Beach Club, then jumped into the water in time to watch the sunset. The water was as warm and gentle as ever. The waves shimmered in the sunlight, which progressively faded away as the sun set behind a plume of bright red clouds. I lay on a floating dock by myself to enjoy this moment. I’d just danced barefoot in the rain and then woke up at the crack of dawn to teach all day. I went from having a blast with thousands of people to being comfortable alone. Howler monkeys called out to one another in their deep voices, and birds chirped to say goodnight. It was a relaxing end to an unforgettable weekend.