This morning I was invited to a CEPRODEL meeting in Telica, a small town just north of León at the base of a live volcano.  It’s one of the towns within the department of León that CEPRODEL has an office in but that I haven’t visited yet.

The office is incredibly grandiose.  After the National Bank pulled out of Telica in 1995 and abandoned their offices CEPRODEL bought the building, which has a large porch with big columns and an expansive patio in the rear.  It certainly feels more like a giant bank than any other office I’ve been to.

I chose to stay in Telica for lunch after the office closed (half day only on Saturdays), in order to get to know the city a little bit.

While I was eating at a nice little comedor a man came in and starting drinking beer by himself at the next table.  He kept trying to talk to me, and I ignored him.  Finally I decided I was almost finished and he was getting disruptive, so I answered his questions.  He rather forwardly (but somewhat expectedly) invited himself to my table, and I would have called the management to intervene if he hadn’t been such an interesting, philosophical drunkard.

He thought I was from Europe.  When I answered that no, I am from the U.S., he raised his eyebrows.  “Oh, so you are more poor than I am!”

That intrigued me.  I asked him why.  In a roundabout way with many repetitions he explained, “I have 70 manzanas of land where I live with my whole family and we go out all day and struggle with our cows.  On our land.  Outside with our cows and my cousins and two sisters.  And you in the US just sit in your houses watching tv and drinking all day.”

Interesting coming from a guy already drunk at 1 pm.  I wonder if he actually knew how insightful that observation is.  Then later when talking about the sad state of local politics he confessed, “Look, I depend on this beer.  I haven’t paid for it yet, so right now it’s a loan – the bar loans it to me first until I pay. But those politicians take my money and go buy themselves three beers for every one that I drink.  And they are the same people we elect.  I vote, I always vote, but I don’t have an ounce of hope in the people I vote for.”

But he acknowledged he is like a baby at the bottle with his beer.  Alcoholism is a very sad disease.

After telling me he was going to give me 15 manzanas of his land as a gift, he started talking about fishing (that is, as a metaphor for picking up women), how beautiful my eyes are, and Spanish volunteers who were bathing in bikinis in a pool in his village.  At that point I thanked him for the conversation and left.

Telica is quiet.  Seems like everyone leaves to go work and shop in Leon, seeing that it’s only 15 minutes away.  The bus back to the city was filled with women with their woven plastic shopping bags.  Tranquila.

The sleepy center of Telica

The sleepy center of Telica