Tonight was the night for sun dresses and washed hair (we were dressed to the nines by Nicaragua standards). We were going out to dinner, or rather, up the hill to the “French guys’ place.” The actual name of the restaurant was Al Cielo, but we all kind of preferred calling it the prior.
We had to take two trucks. Some of the more adventurous girls would ride in the back of Jamie’s truck, bearing the elements and branches in the face on the bumpy dirt road.
I would opt for the back of Holly’s truck with the rest of the girls, as I wasn’t up for the roller coaster ride. We would pass a lot of local farm houses and a litter of adorable feral puppies. We debated taking one of the cute ones with big paws and ‘love me’ eyes back to El Coco Loco, but it seemed as though the owners weren’t too privy to the idea. We drove on and up the hill for dinner.
Holly would take us for a tour around the grounds of Al Cielo. Their restaurant had a gigantic thatched roof and probably some of the best mountain views in the area. The clouds broke just enough for us to see glimpses of the start of the sunset. Light hues of purple and blues tinted the horizon.
We would walk down to the cabanas and check out the pool deck, discussing how one of the roofs had been struck by lightning in the storm we witnessed on our ride in from Managua. One of the mattresses had caught on fire (true story) and the tale scared us enough to have us shake on our beds each time a lightning storm passed through for the rest of the trip.
By the time we would get back, Jacque (note: not actual French guy’s name, but we’ll just pretend it was since I forget) would have set out drinks for us to sample. The sunset would now be warming, displaying neon pinks and mango oranges making for a warm sherbert sky.
And because I was slightly amiss, I asked Holly what flavor the white one was. She said coconut. One of my friends from Vegas had told me that coconut milk was actually really bitter so I was interested in finding out for myself. I took a swig and immediately made a sour face. Holly asked me what was wrong. I told her that I wasn’t sure, but the drink had a burning sensation to it, almost like it had alcohol in it. Holly gave me a blank stare, as if questioning my intelligence, followed by, “It’s coconut rum.”
Yep. Not really sure what to say about that. Holly said she would forgive me because I’d been out of it that day. I agreed to her lame excuse for my inability to recognize alcohol, but I wasn’t sure my Vegas friends would provide me with the same amnesty. I shrugged and tried the coffee rum; it was a party in my mouth and I finished the rest of the drink. Once we had finished sampling the rums, Jacque began passing out wine. The French guys sure knew how to pacify their guests.
We would select our meals and sit down at the table for more wine and intimate conversation. We would discuss some of the stupid things we did in our youth (of course, with me being one of the youngest, I would comment on recent events in my life). One of my favorites would be about one of the girls breaking into the hippo habitat at a zoo (also a true story).
We would even have a stowaway at the table, trying to finagle one of us into pouring her some wine.
The meal would be exquisite, every bit as posh and buttery as the meals I had in Paris. As the night would go on, my mind would wander back to my trip to France. Almost a year to the day I had been enjoying wine and views of the Eiffel Tower with some very good Parisian friends. The trips were complete polar opposites and yet somehow the same. I had managed to find a taste of my Parisian memories in Nicaragua and I mentally thanked Holly for the nostalgia.
We would share much laughter that evening, letting our wine buzz rise and reverberate to the moon and back. We may had been on a hill in Central America but as a unit we were standing on top of the world. A good night indeed.