Two weeks ago Ryan and I ventured to Managua’s Oriental Market to buy 35 Spanish/English dictionaries for the students here. Previously the only available dictionary was a monstrous Webster from 1985 that couldn’t leave the library. Ryan was able to solicit some money from the NPH honchos and we were off with over $250 in hand.
The Oriental Market is the largest in Central America and you can find anything besides a car dealership there. I mean anything: vegetables, video games, wedding dresses, large appliances, sporting equipment, rice, jewelry, fabric etc. It is about 40 football fields big and without someone knowing where they are going it is an outdoor maze of narrow passageways, tin scraps, and iron gates. Predictably, too, it is not the safest place for two white-skinned Americans. Any Nicaraguan will tell you to be careful. Thankfully, we had Juan Pablo, a Tio at NPH, and his wife Aura with us to help us navigate and negotiate a good price. I knew that the rumors of the Market were true when Aura told me to take off my rings, my earrings, and my necklace and to put my backpack facing forward. So into battle we went.
The plan of attack was that Aura (the ultimate price negotiator) was the leader of the pack, I followed behind her, Ryan after me, and Juan Pablo watched all three of us to make sure we didn’t run into any trouble. We moved fast through the poorly made stands as she asked where the “book” section was. Looking determined was the key. To make the experience even more memorable in the middle of our search the first heavy rainfall of winter came upon us. Water fell from everywhere and there were little rivers in between each section. We eventually found what we were looking for and a price of 4 dollars a price was agreed upon. It was a crazy day and we were exhausted. We also enjoyed a lovely lunch with our helpful pair. That sane day we headed to San Juan del Sur, a much more tranquil and gringo-friendly, town were we spent the rest of our break.
I have realized I need to start sharing more about my students that I spent time with everyday. Everyone is wonderfully different with a myriad of needs. Some love to come spend time one on one with an adult and will do anything for the little hard candy I will give them at the end. Others hate encountering difficulty and will leave the second that they guess the wrong answer on a flash card. I spend about 40ish minutes once a week with each one. That varies much, however, as the schedule changes here everyday. We play games, do exercises and talk about how important school is. I am not sure sometimes that working with the students does much, but they rarely get individual attention from an adult, so here I am. In my previous entry I mentioned the two students Bryan and Angel with whom I have been working. Angel has moved back into a regular class, but I still spend time with Bryan. I hope you enjoy some of the pictures.
Granada, Masaya, Volcano…oh my!
Last weekend we took our break in the cities of Granada and Masaya. The market in Granada is great to walk around in and more tourist-friendly. Granada I believe is the only safe place to find things of luxury (Managua is just too spread out). We were able to find a wine bar and sit in air conditioning! I took some pictures this time of the market and bought a lovely screen-print from a gallery there too.
Masaya is a lovely middle-class city in between Granada and Managua. Many tourists visit the “old market” that is filled with souvenirs and knick-knacks galore. We stopped by, but didn’t purchase much and preferred to sit in the central park where on Sunday children, families, and old men drinking beer and playing chess were hanging out. It was so nice to see families interact in a “real” Nicaraguan environment. At NPH, we are “all one big family,” and quite frankly live in a bubble. Although infused with Nicaraguan culture, it is not representative of how people really live here.
Near Masaya is the active Volcano Masaya also known as “el boca de infierno” (the mouth of hell) . Last time it really blew off some lava-filled steam was 1772. Never in my life had I thought I would have so much contact with volcanoes! We were able to visit the national park where you can walk up to the lip of the crater and take in a big gulp of sulfurous fumes. It was spectacular to see. We also took a little tour in a lava created cave. There were bats galore and naturally cool air. Indian legend says that in order to keep the volcano at bay they would select a virgin in the cave and then walk up to the edge of the volcano and they would have to jump in! Ay! It was great fun and also one of the most organized tourist attractions we have encountered here in a country that has a lot to offer.
Beginning May 1 is the beginning of “winter,” better referred to as the rainy season. Lately, the humidity and the heat here have been unbearable. Being from the Midwest I thought I could handle it, but this is another beast. Last week, I took three showers a day to just have the 5-minute relief from the suffocating air. I really hope the rain that is supposed to be coming makes a difference. The living situation is also made poorer with the increase in heat. Power outages are more frequent, which means no fan for sleeping, mosquitoes are everywhere all the time, and my appetite for the food they serve has taken a severe nosedive. All in all, I guess the honeymoon stage for me and Nicaragua is officially over. Bottom line – living here is not comfortable and sometimes sucks. I don´t been to sound like a princess, but, for example, pretending like it is fun to check for lice in each other’s hair is a big fat lie.
Previously, talking to my parents or friends, would catalyze my homesickness, but now it has taken a materialistic turn. I miss my clothes, good/healthy food, clean room, lack of insects indoors, regular internet, driving a car, clean fingernails…the list, unfortunately, goes on. I have really begun to think about how “spoiled” my life is in the U.S., by U.S. standards it’s pretty normal, but here the idea of to-go coffee and eating raw vegetables is an anomaly. I have grown tired of feeling guilty about how I live in the U.S. compared to the kids here, it is how the cards were dealt and I thank God for my life, feeling guilty is a waste of time. I am proud and thankful for my blessings, to be an American and I am going to stop feeling guilty when I say I can’t wait to go back.
Today Ryan and I are attending a wedding of one of the Tio´s, it is actually the religious ceremony of Juan Pablo and Aura who I mentioned earlier. They have already been married by the court, and today by the priest. Here in Nicaragua a pair must be married by the court and church separately in order for it to be recognized by both important parties. Aura is actually a product of NPH, she grew up on the property we are working at and she met Juan Pablo when she was an adult working on the mainland for NPH and he began as a Tio here. So they decided to get married here on the Island in the church here. Pretty cool. They already have a beautiful son, Pablo, and all the kids are going to be at the wedding too. Everyone is pumped for a fiesta. Look forward to pictures!
View of the parking lot at Masaya Volcano.
From the souvenier market in Masaya.
Market in Granada.
Mariposa print from Granada.
Mangos for 5 cents a piece. Yummy!
Flip flops galore!