Proving my manhood, fueled by Ramen.

Nicaragua 2011

I've been hanging out with fake Colin Farrell for the past few days. This kid is a dead-ringer for the Irish movie stud; long-flowing locks, Enrique Iglesias-quality scruff, and dashing charisma that would turn the straightest homophobe into an avid penis enthusiast. Colin is a travel all-star, managing to live off $10/day, all day everyday. Colin is from Santa Monica, California and is thoroughly homeless, using his boyish charm to live on the couches and beds of salty females when he is home in Cali. He is the Wilt Chamberlain of backpacking.

The last two nights Colin and I have rounded up successful jam sessions in the hostel. I hack the battered 6-string, while Colin forms a drumset with a tin water bottle, 3 Ramen cups, and a pen and fork for drumsticks. A few folks gather around the circle to share in some 90's sing-a-longs. such as "No Rain" by Blind Melon. The crowd builds in density and the songs swell in volume as more and more people join the circle. Chris Ginger, a sunburned 35 year-old surfwaxer takes the guitar and unleashes the greatest one-hit wonder of all-time; "Save Tonight" by Eagle Eye Cherry. The place goes nuts and everyone is singing in harmony despite language barriers. Percussion roars. Germans are banging on trash cans with spoons, Aussies are clanking their rum n' cokes, and Hungarians are stomping to the beat in wooden shoes. The jamboree completes, and the masses head out to suck down some piss-poor rum.

"Ron Plata" is the choice rum of Nicas, and it tastes exactly how you'd expect a $2 bottle to taste. Picture rum and monkey ball sweat with a shot of "Colt-45" double malt on top. Siff. It's the Gatorade of the homeless. I partake in a shot, as a "bitter beer face" is plastered across my mug. My German friend Peter Eader drinks the bar out of house and home, as the putrid swill runs through the gaps where teeth used to be.

We find a phenomenal bar with a local Nica band kicking ass. They play traditional Latin songs, sprinkling in Cranberries covers wherever possible. Seriously, every third song was a Cranberries cover. I'm not sure what it is about "Zombie", but this song is a smash anywhere you go in the world. All hail chick rock.

I head for home early, stopping at a local hamburger stand and shamelessly stuff my face with White-Castle caliber “meat”. Mistake. I make it back to the hostel. Not feeling so well, I clog the hostel can without even trying. Water and poop soup come flowing to the top of the toilet as “Noooooooo!” comes out from my lips. Everything is in slow-motion. My life flashes before my eyes, all the good times, the bad times, the triumphs & tribulations of my 24-years. I pinch myself. Nope, not dreaming. The water inches to the brim. It all comes down to this. “Zombie” rings in my head like a broken record. I don’t even wait to see what happens to the terd. I run from the John, literally scared shitless. Juan, the prison-inmate hostel manager sees my ghost-faced stare and looks more pissed than suspicious. He can smell my crime. I hide in my room like a bitch. DSCN0974 Morning comes quickly. It’s a big day. Today I will do what I came to Nicaragua for; climb a volcano and slide down it on a sled. “Volcano Boarding” is the top attraction in Leon, Nicaragua. Marco, the tour guide, takes us up “Cerro Negro”, a massive volcano of evil black-ash rock. Marco is a French-Canadian who spends 6-months each year running tours in Nicaragua. He lives in a house on the beach that he bought for $3,000. No joke. You can purchase an acre on the beach for three G’s. Foreign investment is booming in Nicaragua, so check it out before it’s flooded by the white devil. DSCN0978 “Cerro Negro” is probably best known for daredevil Eric Barone’s legendary wipeout at 107 mph. He lived, but barely. See here:

Good news for me is that I will be going down on a sled, so it’s totally safe. Well not really. I witnessed a few people at the hostel with Freddy Krueger-like scars from falling onto the jagged ash-rock. According to Marco, no one has died in 5-years of volcano boarding. This reassures me, but barely. I’m not a badass. I’m actually a huge pussy when it comes to extreme sports, so this is a big deal for my manhood. DSCN0985 We get to the top. No one is within 10 miles of us. To protect me, Marco gives me an orange spacesuit that looks like Diddy’s getup from the “Mo Money Mo Problems” rap video. I peer down the 40-degree incline of the cano. I pee a little in the spacesuit.

Wooooosh!!! Away I go at 50 mph down Satan’s mountain as dusty rock sprays every inch of my body. 45-seconds later I’m at the bottom with dust on my face and rocks in my butt. I look like a Chilean Miner.