On Saturday, all the volunteers were piled into the same white van, with Don Douglas (Do-lus) as our intrepid driver. I can’t give the name of the town because the government has a ton of security restrictions. My group was the first to be dropped off, I think because we are the furthest away from Managua. It’s still only a little more than an hour away, but it didn’t take long for the scenery to change as we left the city. The lush greenery and open spaces increased, with the mountains in the distance getting closer. There were more horses and oxen or cows on the side of the road and horse-drawn carriages mixed in with automotive traffic. (Almost all cars in Nicaragua are manual/stick, according to Douglas). There was a big truck pulled off to the side of the road and the drivers were sleeping underneath in hammocks. Driving through the countryside of Nicaragua, with soft Spanish music playing on the radio, I really got hit for the second time that I was in Latin America.
I was the second volunteer to be dropped off. We turned down a road paved with the tiles common on the streets here. A little ways down the tree-lined road, we stopped at a house recessed back with a long walkway. An older woman a big dog came out (one of four). Two of the guy volunteers got my suitcases out of the crowded van, I said goodbye and went to meet my host momma. She smiled and we kissed on the cheek (Nicaraguan greeting). Maria (my language facilitator) and Don Douglas went into the home with me and discussed some stuff with Luisa in Spanish.
There is a big front yard with a lot of tropical plants (including mango trees) and a porch with four beautiful, carved wooden rocking chairs. Luisa’s daughter, Alma , was studying in the living room. Her father, who is an artisan, was working in the studio that is off their patio. The ceiling is high with a steeple and its corrugated metal, maybe tin. The walls are painted very colorfully, the living room is yellow and the kitchen is bright green- Latin Americans love bright colors. The kitchen is nice size with a wooden table and chairs and a stove, sink and small refrigerator. It opens into a huge back yard, where there is a bathroom, shower and place to wash clothes. My room is small and off the kitchen. There is a small window, with wooden shutters but no glass, which is common. There is a small wooden chair, a wooden bookshelf for clothes and small wooden table by a single-size bed. There is a small shower room and toilet room inside, but neither is usable as there is not running water. I’m going to use them for storage- there’s a shoe rack in the shower room already. There aren’t any knobs on the doors; I pull on a nail to open the shower/storage room door.
I lay down for a little bit and took a nap; the heat here makes me tired a lot. From my bed, I can look through the small window and the green plants right outside are very calming. I was awakened an hour later by the crowing of a rooster outside my window and my host mother calling my name (Li-yon). She made chicken and rice and ensalada for almuerzo (lunch). It was simple but good and filling. We drank fresh squeezed mango juice, yum! So far the “double dragon” has not visited me (see Managua blog entry) and I am trying my best to keep it away. I am trying to eat slowly and not a lot; Luisa asked me what kind of serving size I prefer. Here it is not really polite to leave food on the plate, I think it’s insulting to the mom and also because of the scarcity of food.
My stomach has been feeling kind of funny and making a lot of weird noises- I told Luisa “mi estomago esta cantando” (my stomach is singing) and then went on to elaborate that it was not good singing. She lectured me on the importance of taking my malaria pills and washing my hands (which is kind of difficult because there is no running water in the house; thank G-d for antibacterial). I know also I need to drink water, which is easier because PC requires the family to have a Pura Water 20 gallon jug dispenser for us. So I don’t have to drink the water from the tanque, now I just have to remember to drink often. My Nica mom has hosted four other volunteers before me so that makes a lot of things easier. Also, she’s Evangelista and is cool with me being Jewish (she seemed to know what a Judeo was). She even showed me a small wooden shelf in my room where I could put my Shabbat candle holder.
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