Monday, April 12, 2010

New week and a new word

Ryan with his class for his birthday party.

Ryan's birthday cake with Reyna and Ceasar.

Julio, Franci and I.

Ryan and I in Moyogalpa after dancing a bit.

A low-key week here at NPH was in order after two weeks of traveling and being away from the island. It was good to get back into the groove of things and be reminded of how I do like a routine. It was Ryan's birthday on Wednesday and it was fun to celebrate with the kids here at NPH. As always, though, some things came up worth talking about.


Every now and then when I call the folks they ask me how my Spanish is coming along. I can honestly say it has improved, but to what level is a mystery to me. Sometimes I can communicate confidently and literally feel that my words are being understood. Other times, however, I stumble like a complete idiot. The kids love to snicker and repeat my funny pronunciation, which I agree is hilarious. I do understand better than I can speak. Ironically, Ryan who’s Spanish speaking skills are dramatically better than mine, sometimes does not catch a question or the message from a conversation and I do so I have to explain it to him. Understanding the kids is a battle in and of itself. In my opinion though, it can be a blessing to not understand what a bunch of junior-high age kids are talking about. It is a humbling experience to struggle with communication daily, but everyday I learn a new word or maybe am reminded the grammar structure of how to say something. Here in Nicaragua it is common to drop consonant sounds and make vowels super short. The result is an entire conversation with a Nicaraguan can sound like one sentence and everything blends together. This is especially frustrating for a Midwesterner who loves to make her vowels long and flat and whose consonants are never in doubt. My goal is to impress the brothers and parents a little bit when they come to visit. We’ll see what happens.


Earlier this week while I was playing a math game with two students, Katerine and Imnovis, they asked me if I would be returning to Los Estados Unidos (U.S.A). I replied simply,“ Yes.” They then asked me if I wanted to return. I honestly said, “Yes very much. It is my home.” Being in the fourth grade and loving attention from anyone, Katerine, responded by saying “Que fachenta.” Not knowing what the word “fachenta” meant, I asked. They couldn’t give me a clear answer nor an example and my dictionary translated it as meaning “fa├žade-like.” Not satisfied with that I asked one of the older girls, Iris, what it might really mean later that day. She loves explaining things, so instead of a translation or a synonym she gave me an example. She said, a girl is “fachenta” when she borrows her friend’s shirt and when she gets a compliment on the shirt she does not say it is her friends, but takes credit for it being her own. Iris’s explanation and the frankness of Katerine’s subtle stab took me aback.

Life here at NPH is not sunshine and roses, but someday I will leave. I will return to air-conditioning, trash TV, fast food, better communication and transportation, a family that adores me and can provide for me, all my clothes, my art, and be able to be around my friends who all enjoy the same things. The kids here at NPH know that I do not plan to stay nor do I want to, they however, can’t leave. They don’t have anything to go back to. So then, I question, why am I here? I feel the need to recognize the selfish aspects of living here in this community. I want to better my Spanish, I want to be near Ryan, I want to help out/give back a little of what I have been overwhelmingly given, I want to travel and learn a new culture, I want to say I have done something I have always wanted to do, and I want to return to the U.S. with all of these things. It is fair then to conclude I am using this experience to check a bunch of things off my list and not necessarily altruistically save the world. Does it take away from anything? Not really, I am still here to love on other people, but the person I am loving on the most while I am here is me, and I guess that means I am a little “fachenta.”

The weekend

This past weekend was relaxed. We joined our friend Julio for lunch on Saturday and then went out on the town in Moyogalpa to a bar with him and his girlfriend Franci. It was nice to spend time with islanders and return early yesterday to catch up on e-mails. In Moyogalpa, though, we had a pizza dinner and while stuffing our bellies a clean-cut, seemingly normal looking American came into the restaurant and without much of an invitation sat down and talked with us. Clearly distressed, he began talking and we awkwardly listened. After about 3 minutes, he proved to be either insane or on some serious narcotics. He spoke of the Olympics, baby-killers, secret governments, his relationship with Hillary Clinton, new passports, his Boeing 747, lack of sleep and was swearing sporadically and speaking much too loudly for comfort. All in all, it was something from a weird dream. He eventually left, but not without giving us his business card that said he was a professional life coach from Provo, Utah. Yikes. We giggled and rolled our eyes for the remainder of the evening and were glad not to encounter him again. The next morning, though, the town was a buzz about the “extranjero” (foreigner), who tried to set fire to the gas station the previous night and was currently in jail. We asked a couple of questions and it was indeed our friend from the pizzeria. Double yikes. All is well, we said our prayers, but how cruelly ironic that it was indeed an American with an unstable mind who has been our biggest threat since arriving in Central America.

Not too many pictures from this past week. More news and photos hopefully next time. Mucho amor.

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