We leave Hostel Colibri and round the central cathedral. Live music is spilling out onto the street and we are drawn by the congas and horns into a place called Via Via. It’s jam packed. People boogie dancing to a 10 piece salsa band. Make our way into the bar and I order up a couple of cuba libras.
We take our drinks around to the back of the bar and the place opens into an enormous seating area. Scanning. Scanning.. nada. This place is jammed to the rafters. We start to head back to the front bar and we notice some people getting up. Primo timing.
As soon as we plop down a local guy standing at a neighboring table comes over. It was his table but he says he’ll share. He introduces himself as Adrian and wants to know where we’re from. What are you drinking? Cuba libras? That’s a tourist drink. Here look. He shows us a small bottle of clear Nicaraguan rum. Let’s be men. He pours MacKay and I shots with soda water backs. Salut! Down the hatch. Hmmmm not too bad. Doesn’t feel like an 80 proof shot. It’s not, only 30%. I take a look around and notice 2 things. 1 – Most of the people in here are drinking this stuff. 2 – everyone is getting junior high drunk.
Adrian is all smiles, hugs, and high fives. He’s an agricultural engineer. Speaks very good English. He’s very generous and is pouring us rum every 6 seconds.
Soon we’re joined by a cute white girl named Andrea. She’s from Zurich. I tell her how much I love Switzerland. I’ve been there a couple of times and it is hands down one of the most scenically gifted places on Earth. Lauterbrunnen remains near the top of my favorite spots worldwide. Andrea is slightly bashful and very sweet. She’s on an open ended trip, traveling around as long as her money holds out.
To round out the tables characters, we’re finally joined by the second drunkest man in Nicaragua. His name is Lester. He’s dressed like a rock star, has dark, wavy locks and misses the first 3 fist bump attempts. When his head isn’t on the table I snag some info from him. Lester used to live in California and Hawaii. Which explains why, even this smammered, his English is fabulous. He’s a seizmologist. Climbs up volcanoes, camps, plays guitar, and studies them.
MacKay asks what we want to drink and I tell him to follow suit. When he gets up Lester grabs my shoulder, “You’re beautiful people” He pounds his chest, “I feel it in my heart”. He must get laid all the time with shit like that. “What are you drinking?”, “cuba libra”, he hands me the rum “Well are you a tourist, or a painter?”. I’m a fucking painter, Lester. No chaser.
MacKay comes back with a shit eating grin on his face and slams a bottle of rum, a bucket of limes, and a litre of cola down on the table. “Four bucks!”. “What?!”. “With tip”. Oh dear this is ridiculous.
Some guy brushes past Adrian and totally leans on him for support. Some friends rush over to help him. The dudes eyes are closed. He may have just fallen asleep. He can’t walk. Can’t talk. This is the drunkest man in Nicaragua. Two buddies get under each arm. Another raises his own arms to the roof “I love Nicaragua!”. He looks down at me, “Where are you from, man?”. “Canada”. “You play hockey?”. “Nah”. “Booooooo!” He takes back support duty for his lush friend and they stumble towards the bar.
Every five seconds Lester’s head would fall into his hands. “Where’s my guitar?”. Every sentence started to end with “Where’s my fucking guitar?”. It’s a damned good thing he was sitting with the world’s greatest adventure detectives!!
McBurger and Diesel: The Case of the Missing Guitar
The night was cold and black. The Via Via had reached it’s capacity of vagrants and lowlifes from all corners of this dingy, dark city. McBurger and Diesel had one last suspect to interview in this deep mystery.
McBurger exhaled a thick cloud of swirling grey, “So Lester, when’s the last time you saw your guitar?”
Lester had his head in his hands, distraught. His wavy hair spikes through his fingers as they clench, “It was here at the table, leaning against the wall.” He looks up, eyes glistening, “Just moments ago.”
Diesel grabs McBurgers shoulder and leans towards his ear to whisper over the din of the bar, “When we came in, some guy from this bar was clearing the table and I watched him move a guitar.”
McBurger snaps his fingers at the Swiss attache across the table, “Andrea, check the bar for a guitar.”
Lester, now the second drunkest man in Nicaragua, was ready to snap. A rum fueled rage was welling inside him. This case needed to be solved now! Lester snaps to his feet, a look of fury in his eyes. A bottle slips from the wobbling table and smashes on the concrete floor by our feet. Diesel stands to regulate but a calming hand steadies his shoulder. It’s Andrea. And the guitar. “It was at the bar” she says.
“I fucking knew it” mutters Diesel.
“Case closed,” McBurger’s all smiles, “let’s celebrate!”
Yeah so, long story short, I’d been telling Lester that his guitar was behind the bar for a half hour, but he was so drunk he’d forget. When Andrea got up to get a drink I asked her to ask the bartender about it. Case closed.
Lester plays pop music in a band around town. I told him I was in a band too and he wanted to hear me play guitar. His was a classical guitar and the bar was super loud so Lester put his head on the wood of the guitar. “Play one of your songs”. I played something called Given What I’ve Taken. When I started playing he began snapping his fingers to the rhythm of it. It must have been a funny scene, Adrian had an odd look on his face, so I cut things off. “It’s very good. You’re very good. I knew you were beautiful people”.
After MacKay and I finish the first bottle of rum, I get up to go to the bathroom. Amazingly there’s no line. When I come out I overhear some English in passing and what sounds like a thick Canadian accent. I ask this stocky, pale skinned guy “Where are you from?”. “Alberta”. I knew it. “I’m from Nova Scotia, Jonathan”. “Oh, no way. I’m Steve” “Yep, here with a buddy, come join us.”
There was a lively Nicaraguan talking to Steve, named Wilmar, and a girl from New York named Adrianne. They all followed me back to the table and we had a proper posse now.
I’m back at the table talking with Andrea when the new crew comes round and almost immediately the bar begins to shut down. No one’s ready to crash out except for Andrea and despite our best attempts at peer pressure she decides against heading out on the town with us. She claimed to be really tired – and she had a room in the hostel attached to the bar – but she was probably just wise enough to stay away from the shitshow that was about to ensue.
As we rolled out of the bar and down the street Wilmar guided us toward a bar he said was the best in town. A minute or two later another local guy tagged along with us, he seemed a little sketchy but we were far from caring at this point. We’d noticed Wilmar had fallen back and seemed to be calling us back so we dropped back from the dude as well. Wilmar started ranting (in a quiet voice), “I fucking hate that guy! He’s no good. He’s a bad guy. Fucking hate him!” Over and over. Alright then, we sort of doubled-back to ditch him then proceeded in the same direction we’d originally been heading.
Several blocks later we passed a bar that was blowing up, loud music and shitloads of people, it seemed like a lot of fun. Wilmar advised against it but everyone else out-voted him, this place looks fun. We walked in and the dance floor is crazy packed, we throw down some cash to grab a booth in the back with a security dude who ropes us in for a little private party. We get several more bottles of rum and are soon joined by another Canadian – his name escapes me – from Newfoundland who works in the same town as Steve. We also pick up a European couple who seem a bit put off by our rowdiness but are willing to get out of the mayhem and into the private booth nonetheless. As the rum flows everyone starts getting pretty sloppy, in particular Wilmar. There’s a constant rotation of us between the packed dance floor and our private booth.
Before long Wilmar starts getting really hammered, oscillating between wanting to fight one of us or all of us, then sulking in some weird kind of shame mode, then returning to wanting to fight. He’s also getting pretty aggressive with all of the females in the vicinity, as are a lot of the other locals hanging around. It’s a bit disconcerting since the guy seems to have no sense of humor about busting balls. Adrianne tries to calm him down by taking him out to the dance floor and it works temporarily but before long he’s back to wanting to fight and a couple of his buddies are hanging around. Enough of this shit, the whole situation’s stopped being fun so we start looking for an escape plan. At one point he falls over a bench and is completely disoriented so I grab Adrianne and Murphy and say “Let’s go, now.” We break out the front door.
The town is fairly quiet outside the club and we don’t have any real plan so we head back to the hostel to chill and have some more drinks from the communal drinks fridge. Fortunately the employee with the key to the fridge is still up so he hooks us up with a pack of smokes and half a dozen beers. We crack the beers and get to know Adrianne a bit – it turns out she’s been working in Nicaragua for several months as a masseuse but had a run-in with her employer where he tried to screw her, so she reported him for some kind of crimes instead, leaving her without her passport or a lot of money and sort of on the run. She pulls out a blister-pack of 10 mg Ritalin tablets, asking if we want some for a little boost of energy – it’s over-the-counter in Nicaragua. Sure, why the hell not. Wash them down with some beer.
As we’re nearly done our second round the sun’s beginning to rise and Adrianne convinces us that we should hit the town. The Ritalin didn’t have much of an effect on Murphy so he’s not terribly stoked and although it did affect me, I’m in an ADHD-kid-zoned-in-need-to-focus vibe, so I’m not keen for the distractions of the outside world either, but for some reason we decide to roll out anyway. We head back out onto the town as obviously disgraceful drunks while as the good people of Leon are beginning their days.
An hour or so of wandering the streets produced these killer shots, though:
Adrianne wants to keep going but Murphy and I have had enough, he’s beat and I’m sketched out about being wasted while regular people and children are up and moving around. We head back to the hostel a second time with Adrianne making the excuse to the staff that she’s just there to get her purse from our room (no guests allowed). Back to the room where we all try our bests to crash, to varying degrees of success.