Jenny’s choices

To be honest, for the first couple days I knew Jenny, I might have used the word “mousey” to describe her.

She seemed to be in a shadow more often than everyone else, and our early conversations were halting and erratic things since the noise of the fan often overwhelmed her soft British accent.

That all changed on my last night in Leon. It was Wednesday, which is live music night for the fairly substantial population of foreign students studying Spanish in the city, and our hostel was invited by default.

It was adorable in a sweet sort of way; tables of youngsters, ecstatic to be overseas and surrounded by peers, crowding the benches of an uncommonly brightly lit bar (gotta keep tabs on those libidinous little monsters), their exuberant conversation bubbling over between overly loud covers of The Doors, Eagles, Jimmie Hendrix, and a set of ubiquitous songs whose names and bands I’ve never known but can sing along with anyway.

It being youngsters, with awkward limbs and broad Scandinavian smiles, the crowd preferred conversation to dancing. That is always fine by me (I’ll keep my own awkward limbs to myself, thank you very much) and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves until about 11:50 PM, when Jenny whispered to me that this was the worst bar she’d ever been in, all these people were losers for not dancing, and fuck them all, she was going looking for someplace to dance.

I should mention that Nicaragua is not really a party destination. Nearly everything is closed by midnight. In fact a night watchman comes around at 11:00 PM and shuts almost everything down, blowing his whistle indignantly in our window if the lights are still on. There were some muscley tattoed party boys there the first night who got kicked out for disturbing the neighbors with their late night conversation.

Our bar had clearance to stay open until midnight. Jenny had 10 minutes left when she decided to leave.

I am enjoying my time in Nicaragua, the prices are right and I haven’t worn a shirt in days, but it is not the sort of place a woman should walk around by herself at night. Or a man for that matter; when we left there were about a dozen of us and we piled into the cars of press-ganged helpers instead of walking the 5 blocks back to the hostel.

One look at Jenny showed she was not about to be dissuaded, and off she went into the night. We got home an hour later and she wasn’t there. I went to bed and lay in the stifling heat, expecting her to come in (her bunk bed was opposite mine) but nothing. Throughout the night I woke up a handful of times, each time peeking down to see if she was there. She never was.

Up the next morning, putter around, go out to breakfast, run a few last minute errands, go to the bank and pay my bill at the hostel. No Jenny. Not much you can do in that situation, although everyone looks at everyone else as if hoping someone’ll come up with something.

About 4 minutes before I left, my bag packed and on my back, I swung by the pool to take a picture and there sat Jenny at the clunky hostel computer, recently arrived. Sedate. She didn’t seem to want to talk, or make eye contact, and to my regret I wasn’t in a position to wait it out and see if she would.

It’s one of the dangers of traveling. Well, of human behavior in general, but perhaps it’s magnified while overseas in foreign places and cultures. Impetuous decisions, a necessary skill for the traveler, can be affected and super-powered by forces you didn’t know were there. I don’t know where Jenny’s night took her…all you can do is hope for the best future you can, for everyone.