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Voyages of los Testigos - Part 14, Page 1

A Fistful of Watches

"I don't get it," Medio said. "One minute the guy's talking about the merits of capitalism and the next he's donating watches to a socialist revolution."

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Medio, Capn and Nuco, three of the newly created Testigos de Cerveza, were walking along a wide dusty street in Leon, Nicaragua. After several cervezas at a local bar los Testigos had grown hungry and the Good Sister, a Catholic nun working in Leon, had recommended a local restaurant, and given them vague directions on how to get there. Leaving the trio, the Good Sister and the BigGuy had taken off in her Volkswagen to find a hotel room for the group.

"Maybe after proclaiming himself a Canadian, he feels like The Man Without A Country and he's fishing around for a new identity," Capn theorized. "He thinks they'll let him be a Nicaraguan if he donates watches to the Revolution."

"Or he thinks the donation will help him in his campaign for mayor of Somoto," Medio said. "People who have to get up at five in the morning to pick coffee need watches."

"A good harvest would bring in the votes," Nuco agreed.

Farther along, the trio spotted the restaurant, a one story brick building squeezed into a long block of closed and abandoned stores. Orange light shone dimly from shuttered windows and a small 'Open' sign hung lopsidedly on the door.

"Looks like a Chinese food restaurant," said Nuco.

"Where do you think they are?" Medio asked.

"The BigGuy probably used his Spanish and got lost," Nuco said.

"He wanted to make an impression on the Good Sister and took her to the wrong hotel," added Medio. "He asked the first person in the street who didn't run away from him, '?Dond-ay hotel-ay?'"

Nuco laughed at the imitation of the BigGuy's Berlitz tape Spanish. "Yo ser gringo muy grand-ay, yo necesitar hotel-ay grand-ay."

"I think she likes him," Medio said.


"The Good Sister. I think she likes him. Did you see the way she was looking at him? And who did she choose to ride in the car with her?"

"Maybe they're trying out the new hotel-ay lay lay..." Nuco said.

Medio picked up the tune. "Lay lady lay, across my big brass hotel-ayyy..."

Capn spotted the Volkswagen and crossed to the other side of the street, abandoning the Dylan-mimicking duo.

Gains without Pain

Inside the restaurant, the Good Sister was sharing glowing reports of the gains that had been made by "the people" since the Somoza dictatorship had been thrown out of Nicaragua. She was devoted to the cause of Nicaragua Libre, headed by the revolutionary, popularly elected Sandinista government. The people were better off, she said.

"Beer's cold," observed Capn, happy to return to quenching his thirst.

As the meal proceeded, bottles of cerveza began to pile up on the table, crowding the plates of food. The Good Sister continued to expound on the gains in health care, education, and land redistribution that the Revolution had brought to Nicaragua.

"Excuse me," Nuco mumbled suddenly, pushing away from the table. "I need some air." Abandoning his cerveza and a plate of tasteless spaghetti and meatballs, he stepped out the door of the restaurant and disappeared.

"Where do you think he went in such a hurry?" Medio asked.

"Maybe he ran out of Lomotil," the BigGuy conjectured. The antidiuretic continued to hold its proper place as an essential element of the trip.

"Bathroom's in the other direction," said Capn.

"I think he needed to smoke marijuana," the Good Sister said. "Earlier, he asked me where he could buy some."

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