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Lani Ford: News/Blog

Tania & The Revolutionaries Communiqué 2: Nicaragua

Posted on May 31, 2012
A trip to Nicaragua is hard to write about…mainly because as soon as you hit the ground everything morphs into one crazy, hazy, rum-filled camping day. I’m going to give it a shot though while some memories are still there. We rolled out of our home base in New York City in the middle of the night, early Monday February 6th. I had worked a whole night at Otto’s in my cover job as a bartender. It was dead and I tried not to get too drunk but drink enough to sleep on the plane. I met up with Laura and Tony and we took off to JFK airport for a 6:30 am flight. We looked everywhere for more booze but couldn’t even get any in the Delta Sky Club at 5 in the morning. So we ate Burger King and bought drinks on the plane as soon as we could get to the right elevation. We changed flights in Atlanta and, after 3 more beers there and a couple more on the next plane plus some tranquilizers, we finally slept for a couple hours before touching down in Managua. From there, we took a van driven by a man who spoke no English and his lady (not sure they were married) who breast fed an adorable little girl the whole way. We had to stop in Rivas for gas and Tony got out of the van for some reason. Immediately a glue huffer came up and engaged him. (This is when I found out Tony is actually quite solid in Spanish speaking, which comes in handy in the underground.) We took off and Tony immediately had to puke after smelling the junkie’s reek. He couldn’t say it and I couldn’t remember how to say stop in Spanish in such a panic, but we amazingly got pulled over before expulsion. Finally, in the late afternoon, we arrived in San Juan Del Sur. We stayed at a surf instructor and his wife’s house. She’s originally from Texas but has been down there for 17 years. We didn’t really talk but I got that from Laura. They kept they’re distance from me after seeing me grumpy in the morning, realizing we didn’t have hot water in the place. We did have a friend though. We thought someone was knocking on our door in the early morning hours but discovered it was this crazy black bird with yellow eyes that literally started fighting his reflection in the glass and hence knocking on the window every morning at 6 am. This bird proceeded to follow me around the whole 10 days. Along with an evil jumping spider. We did meet Brandon from Houston at the hostel so that was a cool member we immediately added to our crew.
The first night was the mixer for the 4th Annual Pitaya Festival. We attended the festivities and greetings were varied. Our friend Kenny, who had just lost his waterfront bar, our favorite place last summer, was totally kind and happy to see us. The little blonde ex-volleyball player from Cali wasn’t so thrilled. Chilly comes to mind. I guess she wants nothing to do with our revolution. We didn’t invite her anyway. But we were gracious enough and spent money toward the charitable contributions the festival makes to others buying clothes, rum and of course beer. Some sax player started playing in the back of Kenny’s truck…we would run into him numerous times after that…and we were bummed we didn’t haul our instruments over but decided we were going with the subtle approach. He was definitely not. After that I think we went to Republika, but I can’t really remember. I do know we ended up there anyway and met our soon-to-be best bud Ron, a former crack head who left Miami for Alaska 15 years ago and now lives a quiet life as a weed harvester. We also met Jim (geez, I think that was his name). We ended up calling him “Fort Worth” because that was where he is from (just like me). He of course became my stalker for the whole trip and I am still looking over my shoulder expecting him to come up behind me.
Things get cloudier after that night, but we did play the next night. James, who is the man about town when it comes to music in San Juan, hosted an open mic at The Black Whale, a seedy, cocaine-fueled den of iniquity where you can buy drugs and summon prostitutes. Of course, it reminded us of New York so we felt at home there. The bathroom could have even given Mars Bar a run for the money. We played 4 songs, basically as an audition for the upcoming big day of the Pitaya Festival and we were well received. More insanity ensued with me flying off the back of Ron’s 4-wheeler where I was riding with 2 Swedish girls. We got late night street quesadillas and I made it home amazingly unscathed. I can’t really remember Wednesday. We must have started drinking early by the pool at the resort up the road. We were later kind of banned from there but we got in enough before that happened. The next day was the surf finals at Hermosa beach, I think. I got a board and wet suit and boogie-boarded for about an hour. We were quick and smart to get the back seat of the “shuttle” or we would have had to hang on for dear life in the back of the pick-up truck down bumpy-ass country roads. In our condition, that would have been impossible. I think the next day was the “show” at the Palermo resort. More snobbery and confusion but we ran into our new friend Margo again and definitely recruited her to our cause. She lasted with us through Sunday. We also added Beneditte from France along the way. Saturday was the big festival which was a big shit-storm when we first got there. After our taxi dropped us at the end of a dirt road with our gear, we got in the back of some Nicaraguan guys’ van. They were also a band and didn’t speak English. They were cool. After we sat there with our knees to our noses, sweating our asses off for a while, we got out and decided to walk it. Traffic wasn’t moving because the beer truck (alas!) was stuck on the hill and behind it, was the generator truck for the music! Ack! We picked the wrong day to decide not to drink before playing. We sat there for a good 3 hours before the kids’ school performed then the douchey guys from Managua sound checked. Finally we basically pushed our way on for what was supposed to be a 20 minute set and played 14 minutes. But we were noticed and it was cool. It was killer to have the announcer talking us up in Spanish. Tania y Los Revolutionaries! We got off stage and smoked pot, drank beer and pissed in the bushes until the DJ’s started in the wee hours. Then we caught the luxury shuttle for $1 and I don’t know... Maybe went home. Probably. Because Sunday we had a gig at Bambu Beach. We had it worked out perfectly. Paolo, a very cool Italian guy, had agreed to feed us for a sunset set in his restaurant. Great food, wine, cool guy, no problem…except we thought we had the equipment worked out and, after bugging James to death, still didn’t. So we played completely acoustic which we thought would be a challenge but actually went off rather well. I think we stayed pretty calm that night because the next day we were going sailing. We had plans to take instruments on the sailboat and play. I woke up the next morning and couldn’t even move my left hand. I couldn’t figure it out. I hadn’t fallen down or punched anyone surprisingly enough. But I couldn’t even tie my bathing suit. It worked out though because trying to play on the boat would have been a nightmare…especially because the volleyball player somehow ended up on the same boat! So I just popped an anti-inflammatory and a vicodin and kicked them in with a few beers. I even swam from the boat to shore and back. Wow! The next night was Valentine’s Day so we did an anti-valentine show at The Black Whale. We played 2 sets, including covers of “Son of a Preacher Man”, “Ring of Fire” and “She Loves You” and we let some kid from Portland (I think) play a few songs between sets. Laura even joined him on flute. We had a good turn out and response and downed some tequila shots before realizing the German owner stuck us with the bill he had said he would pay…after we DJ’d all night too. Oh well, the next day we got up and took off to a lake in the center of a volcano. We drove past the cops like we didn’t see them and made it by late afternoon. We swam a bit, had a couple beers, fed the wild animals our lunch and headed off to Granada. We got there in time to enjoy the market for a bit then went out to dinner at a new place called Cuidad. Great wine, cigars and food plus very cute young Nicaraguan waiters lining up for me to take my pick. I behaved and caught my cab the next morning to return to New York. I was supposed to play Wayne Dane’s birthday party. I took a cab straight from JFK to Otto’s but missed the show. Had some drinks and went back into New York mode. Laura and Tony stayed behind to complete the mission.