As of July 4th , 2009 we find ourselves relocated to Granada, Nicaragua. We being, Peta and Ben, but also Mango and Dwayne, our two dogs.
Mango has pretty much exploded our carefully sculpted image of being well integrated gringos. Having lived in multiple countries, we both appreciate the difference between living on the periphery versus taking incremental steps to integrate in our new community.
Over the past two years, with every trip to our “Plan B” house in Nicaragua, we increased our neighborhood footprint via the children. Two years ago, Peta started the neighborhood kids drawing outside our house, and now we host a seemingly endless stream of kids requesting “mas hojas?” (more paper?).
The parents look positively on our relationship with the children and we thought we’d over time stand out less.
Well, that is no more. Mango, a lovable creature to be sure, a noticeable Australian Shepherd even back in the U.S., is a veritable oddity here.
Walking down the street with Mango triggers quite a reaction. Think walking down the street with a leopard or other exotic animal, on a leash, and you get the general idea. “Osso, Osso” (a bear! a bear!) is a typical comment, followed by “hermoso” and the inevitable question “el muerde?” (does he bite?). Mango obliges and shows his best, occasionally licking a kid and occasionally knocking a kid or two over.
On our first day here, we went across the road to get massages at the recently-opened gym/spa. Highly convenient, located a mere ten steps, especially in our current state of exhaustion. Upon return to our house, we saw quite a number of our neighbors and other onlookers talking animatedly and clearly waiting for our return.
It appears that Mango found his way onto the roof, by jumping up from our little upstairs terrace onto the red tiled roof top. Many people apparently were observing this strange looking animal walking on the roof like a cat – from rooftop to rooftop. Here in Granada, the old Colonial houses are all connected (much like in Amsterdam.) Two handsome twenty year old neighbors with tough guy images, were brave enough to climb onto the roof and lift Mango up (a mere 60 lbs. of fur) and carry him down off the roof. Mango looked up at us with a look of “see what happens when you leave me by myself?” Our response was “es loco!” (crazy…)
So now when we walk in the street, in addition to all the compliments that Mango receives for his natural beauty, with Dwayne of course being totally ignored, there is the occasional, “bandito!” as in, the bandit that escaped.
To date, the dogs have encountered the huge tortoise across the road with much interest, horse drawn carriages (one chased in the early hours of the morning, down the road), a very large pig that they scared off quite easily, and a few chickens at Laguna de Apoyo (the crater lake) that we truly thought were going to be toast!