Sozzled, pissed, twisted: just some of the words which could be used to describe my state when I first met Pablo. I had just been told that by the volunteer organisation for whom I had flown all the way to Nicaragua for didn’t need me, so I had returned to the hostel and hit the bar hoping that by being in a more drunken state I might come up with some ingenious idea about what to do next. The heat, even during the evening, was stifling and the door to the tiny and deserted bar come reception area was open, inviting all sorts of creatures of the night to do what they do, be it drown in the miniscule pool or suck our sickly sweet blood. Sitting next to me was a man who seemed to be even more intoxicated than I. Judging by the coarseness of his beard he probably hadn’t shaved in about a week and as he smiled in my direction his lips parted to reveal a pair of exquisite gold teeth. Yet he had an aura of class about him; his fake Armani suit feeling the wear and tear of the road and his hair slicked back into a greasy grey ponytail. He introduced himself simply as Pablo. Pablo was a Brazilian jewellery maker and seller by trade, now living in Leon with his son. He had been divorced by his wife eight years ago, and it didn’t take a detective to deduce what may have been the cause. Pablo was what you might call a ‘ladies man’. Many a time our conversation would be put on the backburner in order for him to work his magic on any approaching women. Using his jewellery box as a lure, he coaxed the unsuspecting passers by into buying jewellery and perhaps more- though this method didn’t seem to be terribly successful in either the former or the latter. When he was finished he would use the same phrase; “This box, it is my web, for catching the pretty girls. Me, I am the spider…” accompanied by a surprisingly petite chuckle.
After the umpteenth unsuccessful attempt to sell his trinkets, Pablo prompted me to grab a beer for the road and take an evening stroll. Not a lot was said between us while we walked; he was just happy to get some fresh air and I was solely content with not knowing our destination. As we sauntered through the streets and alleyways we passed some famous local landmarks: the central market, where the merchants still sat and gossiped long after the stalls had closed, the Iglesia de la Mercad, and the stunning Iglesia de la Recoleccion. We passed the building where the infamous dictator Somoza García was assassinated without so much as a brief pause or acknowledgement. Finally we stopped outside an unassuming building I had already visited that morning- the headquarters of the volunteer group I had hoped to work for. Pablo turned around to face me and asked me in that delectably stereotypically flawed English so many non-native speakers do, “This is the place you tried to get a job today, yes? You know they say they give the profits to the
children?”. I nodded in reply. He looked at the ground near his feet and sighed. “They are lying. And the only money the children get is spent on these”, throwing his cigarette stub on the ground and crushing it underfoot. Suddenly I wasn’t so upset anymore. I now knew what I’d do the next morning- I’d go travelling.