S: Journey to Nicaragua 1
FC: Our Journey to Nicaragua
1: Religion is more than attending mass......teaching people to be self-sufficient and giving support is so much more!
2: November 4, 1997 Well, we made it! Other than the medic-missions singing Spanish songs in the airport, it was pretty predictable- even all the flights were on time! We are staying at the Mission, which consists of a large church, camp-style kitchen, a room with bunk beds and two single beds. No fan, no air conditioning- and pretty hot! We are in a compound.it has a fence surrounding the area with a locked gate. The toilet seat in the one and only bathroom is cracked.ouch! The water is one temperature- cold and it barely trickles out of the shower. We are lucky though to have a shower as many don’t have such a luxury. They have a T.V. room with all wooden rocking chairs (four of them have beautiful hardwood and cane woven). They say they are very typical. Wonder if I can ship one home? The mission just got a new fax/phone machine three days ago. I see a computer sitting in the phone room, wonder what it does? Tomorrow we are off to the country until Saturday should be interesting!
5: November 5, 1997 Wake up time is 6:30! However, everyone seems to be up at 4:30. We heard kids playing, roosters making a lot of cock-a-doodle-doo-ing and dogs barking. We found out that breakfast is at 8:00, however our watches say 7:00, so I guess there is a time difference! On the way to breakfast, I found ‘Tiger’, same same. There are rabbit pens just outside our room. That explains all the noise this morning- they were cleaning the feeding the bunnies. For breakfast we had- bread, buns, pinto beans and rice, scrambled eggs, rhubarb-like jam, coffee and orange juice. We found out that city people eat bread but country people only eat tortillas. The pinto and bean stuff is what Nicaraguans eat three times a day, seven days a week! (I commented that at least it tastes good, they say yes it does the first time!) Chocolate is expensive and impractical here because they have no refrigerators and it is over 30 C each day.so muddles of chocolate is what you get! Therefore, the chocolate we brought was a huge hit- they said it felt like Christmas. The monks are from all over- Indonesia, Poland, Spain, and Germany. We left around 9:30 for Condega, drove through beautiful countryside- lots of green, tropical vegetation- flowers- Poinsettia trees- who knew they were trees? There were lots of rice fields, mountains and a good view of some volcanoes! We stopped for a drink and a bathroom break- no toilet paper and no flush on the toilet.
8: We stopped for lunch and found out this is where we are sleeping for three days. Senora is a very good cook. She made rice and onions, tortillas (warmed up straight on the gas stove top, cannelloni stuffed with carrots and a tomato-milk sauce (Parma-Rosa) with a beet root salad. Very good! We then went to visit a community project. The women make candles and ceramic stuff as well as they have a clinic. A lady was receiving acupuncture when we arrived, an education room (a class was being taught agricultural principles). People certainly enjoy seeing Miguel, he seems to like to tease the girls and children. We stopped at a house where a family with at least five children lived- the mother works in the United States taking care of a house and gets paid $100 a week plus room and board.
11: We then went to our place- moved two beds into one room, watched our new lizard sleep in the corner of the room. This house deserves a few words- from the front it looks like a concrete block shed- inside there is a living room with a bedroom separated by a curtain, then you go outside (a dirt hallway) into the kitchen, another dirt hallway to the other three bedrooms. The bathroom (toilet and hose for the shower) is in another room outside. A plastic shower curtain is the door. It is pretty primitive but hey, the toilet flushes. Imagine the night- time escapades with a flashlight and the lizards etc. This is definitely building a strong constitution for Andrea. She still needs mascara though! Our plan was to eat dinner and then go downtown to check it out. We ate and then it started to pour (it is the tail end of rainy season), then to top it off the electricity went out, so we had a candle and it was about 6:00 p.m. Not much to do, but be there and discuss life- this new life! We went to bed around 9:00 p.m., and heard people stirring around 5:30 a.m. Pretty early mornings around here!
12: November 6, 1997 We did the ice-cold shower minimally- stuck our head under the water, used very little shampoo and then splashed water on our body. Brrr! Breakfast consisted of bread- fried or at least put over the gas fire to toast, fruit salad (fresh pineapple, orange, and banana) and coffee. Soon after Miguel came to get us and we did several short trips around town and then we were off to where remote farms called communities- over rocks and across streams. We could have used a super sport bra, that’s for sure. We visited many homes including one where a lady carved pictures into fruit from a special tree and then after they dry they are used for glasses and dishes. Andrea bought one for $1.00. Lunch was a potato/egg frittata, tomato, squash salad, rice and tortillas. (very good). The priest from Argentina is traveling with us today. This afternoon we are off for some more traveling- to a coffee plantation and maybe a school. I have already taken twenty-four pictures. We went up high in the mountains and saw many coffee plants growing among the huge trees. I expected a crop. We visited a cultural school- people who had previously quit elementary school- very basic, two outdoor bathrooms. Students go to school for one week and then go to practise their skills. We saw a sex education class being taught- I wonder what the practise week will be like ;) ?
15: Then we went to a small village and visited with the kids. They were between six and twelve for the most part. We had fun learning Spanish and teaching English. Also, played with whistling. I got two roses on the way out and a few hugs. This village would definitely worth sending a package to. Again the ride was very bumpy! We rode for twenty- five minutes and some of it spent bouncing off the seat. We picked up many hitchhikers and dropped them off along the way. Supper was sandwiches- toast, tomatoes, cheese, and onions along with lunch leftovers. Pretty exhausted and it is only 7:15 p.m.
16: November 7, 1977 The roosters wake up, I swear, at 4:00 a.m. and the birds and people at 4:30. We get up at 6:30. Anyway, after breakfast we headed down to the downtown area and visited people. We went to an architectural museum and visited a family for coffee. The daughter who is now seventeen had a baby when she was fourteen. Pretty typical! Apparently, a guy (in this case twenty-five years old) get you pregnant, he must stay with you or go to jail, so he stays and physically abuses you so the girl kicks him out. Then later she looks for a new husband, then commonly the new husband fools around with the daughter who is now ten or eleven, and the circle continues. From there we went to a school- all the kids are in uniforms- navy skirts/pants, white blouses. We met an Australian girl, her first teaching job, teaching English. She gets paid nothing, must pay for her own accommodation but does get free food. She is planning on being here 1.5 years, she has been here seven months already. She really likes it. Her class size is around fifty students and she says they can be difficult to discipline. Her class ranges from around fifteen to twenty-one years of age. It depends if they have taken time off to work or whatever! We are meeting her tonight. It sounds like she is craving to talk English!
19: In the afternoon, we went to a hospital to visit the administrator and found out that they get their drugs from Germany. Also, last week there were five cases of malaria also cholera as well as flesh-eating disease. We are starting to get paranoid! Andrea already has about ten bites. I’m not looking, just applying ‘deet’ until I’m sticky. We then went to visit a family- with a very sick grandma. Of course, the visit started out with kisses and hugs all around. Then the best part- the pottery project. It was very cool the way it was set up. There was about fifteen people employed and I managed to spend $11 on mucho stuff. We then went downtown and looked around. I found a bracelet, an apple bowl, and a napkin holder. We also bought some street food- potato chips with shredded cabbage and hot chili sauce- so yummy! Iva made pizza for supper and I think it was American style. Then it was off to meet the Aussie- Clare. We met at the restaurant and talked for about an hour. She said that the men are ‘pigs’ and so she hates walking home in the dark. So, at about 8:30 it was home time.
20: Nov. 8, 1997 We made it back to the Brother’s around 11:30. Lunch was beef and pineapple and potato in a sweet and sour sauce, tortillas and rice. Delicious! In the afternoon we walked around and checked out the little stores. At 5:00 the community celebrated a girl who had turned fifteen years old. The girl is dressed like a bridesmaid and the children in the family dress up in wedding clothes and march her into the church. A short mass is said and then they give her gifts. It is not so much a religious event but a big cultural one. The families often save since the girl is a baby to make sure they can afford the big party. Then at 8:00 Fernando and Mr. Indonesia took four of us for pizza at Pizza House, which is Pizza Hut’s competition. It was excellent! For $12 we had a salad bar and two large pizzas. Good deal. Then we went to a disco. We got home around 12:30 p.m
23: Nov. 9, 1997 Sunday turned out to be a busy one! Got up at 7:00 and went grocery shopping to the local stands around the mission to buy fruit etc. We went back and had breakfast. Then Miguel came and picked us up and we went to the community center, and with sweat dripping down our backs, we watched a contest for the best girl. They wore traditional costumes and danced etc. and then the judges chose the winner. Then Fernando and Mr. Indonesia picked us up and said it was time to head to the beach. It was a little after twelve by this time, we stopped at a house, which looked fairly wealthy, and watched as extended families kept appearing. Finally, at about 1:30 we left, all 20+ of us in a small car and the Toyota truck packed like sardines. We had ten in the truck and another 7 or 8 in the back. Many were children an babies. We stopped for gas and this seemed to be the shopping spree. We must have been there a good 45 minutes- getting chocolate bars and beer etc. We drove for about one hour and got to the beach a little after three. It was very nicethe water was body temperature. We ordered food first at the restaurant on the water’s edge. We had excellent shrimp! We played in the water, drank cerveza, mingled with the extended family. One of the daughters and her boyfriend spoke English so that was good. Mr. Indonesia got a little friendly but not exclusively by any means. We dropped these people off and they insisted we come in for agua. Of course they found food and then we had to go next door for rice and pinto and fried cheese and orange juice. We ended up getting home around 9:45 and pretty pooped. Tomorrow all the brothers are going to the beach near Costa Rica. (By the way, the bill for all the beer and food for the 20+ people was $100 US).
24: Nov. 10,1997 No prayer time today! IT is beach day for the boys. By 8:20 we are off on the road. We take some wooden bed-frames to a community centre and then head for the Pacific. We drove down a country ‘path’ to the ocean. No one in sight! Everyone changes at the trucks and goes and plays in the ocean. Then they make tuna salad, cheese, crackers, and cookies for a snack. Ocean is warmer than body temperature. We leave and stop in town for lunch. I had the fish platter, French fries, salad, and beer. Then we stop at Lake Nicaragua for a swim with the mosquitoes. There are two active volcanoes on islands in this lake. There are also sharks here! Then we are off for the two hour ride home. I tried the run here- pretty good and a 375 ml bottle cost $2.20 US.- (not bad, I say and that is 5 years aged). We sat around and talked to Ralph who has promised to take us shopping to a village nearby for rocking chairs, necklaces, pottery etc. Yippee! Ralph took us there we found out there were no traffic rules here. No speed limit, no need to stop at a stop sign etc. There are many, many signs but no one obeys or needs to. He says disobeying the yellow solid line can be a problem, but you can usually buy the police a coke and then he won’t give you a ticket. Traffic works pretty well considering!
27: Nov. 11, 1997 We began our day with praying with the Brothers- our first time! Too bad it was all in Spanish. After breakfast we washed our clothes- by hand of course. Then we took the bus to the market- the bus had a mechanical problem. We had to get off it and change to another bus. Then we got onto a real crowded bus. The bus had to change routes because there was a big demonstration with lots of police, people, and guns. Pretty scary! We got off at the market and found nothing but plastic stuff and Christmas decorations- just like back home! I did get a manicure for $2.50 US. They painted my nails with deep red polish, I thought it would cover the dirt. I sure hope the pictures turn out. She started out by soaking my hands in cool water with come conditioning stuff. Then she massaged my hands- nice! Then she used a crotchet hook to clean my nails. Next she filed them, and used the cuticle clippers big time. Then came the one coat of polish. So, after a couple of hours we came home and went shopping for food- bread, vegetables, etc. We came home and ate and then had a siesta. They actually don’t have siestas here. It rained a lot early this morning so it is extremely humid today. We then sat around and I read my book and wrote postcards. Andrea made drinks from cactus fruit/pineapple mmmm delicious. We found out from Ralph that the market we were at is very dangerous- robberies and murders everyday.
28: Nov. 12, 1997 We began the day with prayers and then had breakfast. Lewis took us shopping to the fruit/vegetable market. Very large! You drive from stall to stall and sample the produce and then buy. Pretty neat! He then dropped us off at a market that had a good selection of handicrafts. We spent a couple of hours browsing. Andrea bough some stuff but I basically tried my bartering skills. We plan on visiting a couple of villages that make this stuff. It should be cheaper.which seems impossible. Most things are between $1-2 US. Then we hired a taxi- he took us to the Post Office, supermarket and then home- about a 40 minute ride for $5.00 Canadian. We had a siesta and then sat around and had a beer with the boys. We then had supper and went to bed. We have an early start tomorrow- 5:30 a.m.
29: Nov. 13, 1997 We got up at 4:30 a.m. We are going to a small town for the morning. Ralph and Miguel have a meeting. Finally, I saw some canaries! The town wasn’t very exciting- we looked around- more plastic. WE bought some candy and coffee, about $5.00 I think. We ended up at a coffee place where I had a tomato, ham, lettuce sandwich and a Coke for $1.00 Canadian. Too much! We got back around 12:30. We stopped for gas where the Sonora gives you free coffee- real sweet coffee. I think Murray would like it- typical coffee has sugar in it. This afternoon we put necklaces together, read and did laundry. I’m now having my evening rum and coke. The Brothers should be home soon. Mr. Poland leaves for Chile tomorrow – it sounds like he doesn’t really want to go.
30: Nov. 14, 1997 After breakfast we left for Granada with Miguel. We spent most of our time at the travel agent trying to figure out what we are going to do next week. The Brothers are off to a 25th Anniversary and reunion for four days. We left there without firm plans but several ideas. In the way home we had Miguel drop us off at Masaya- the big craft market. It is very hot today. We spent over two hours there and bought quite a few things. We took a cab back to town- about 40 minutes and it cost us $10 US. Good deal! We got home and tried to figure out what we should do next week.
33: Nov. 15, 1997 We got up and had breakfast. Andrea and I went back to the market and shopped until lunch. We got home and had a nice lunch: rice, beans, vegetable stew, and bananas (plantains) dried and crunchy. It was quite good. Then we read and wasted away the afternoon. I did a batch of laundry. At 6:00 we went with three of the Brothers to the National Theatre to see folkloric dancers. The performances were amazing. Many were different dances, gorgeous costumes and in a beautiful building. The tickets were 40 Córdobas or about $5.oo Canadian. In Nicaragua that is the salary for a police officer for a month. Needless to say only the affluent were there. Afterwards we went to Pizza Hut for supper. We shared a salad, vegetarian pizza, and a jug of beer. We made a few plans for Monday. Fernando is not going on the trip so he can show us around. So, we will soon have to finalize things.
34: Nov. 16, 1997 After breakfast, we read awhile and then went to the 9:30 mass. There were around 60 people although the church could easily hold 200 people. After that Miguel showed us where he stays- at a place with five guys training to be priests. They have a pet parrot- I held it on my finger! It doesn’t talk but it is a gorgeous green with red and blue in its tail feathers. It is very friendly. We then walked around the various burros where they have projects. Interesting looks! A note: Many people already have their Christmas tree up and decorated. At 2:00 we left for the lake. It is on the outskirts of Managua, quite touristry but no shallow parts so I didn’t swim. It started to rain later, lucjy they have tin-roofed shelters. Then we came home around 7:00 p.m. We are planning on phoning home soon. Tomorrow we start our trip to Granada (if we can sort out our plan). We ordered pizza from Valenti’s- not as good as Pizza House/hut. No oregano or spices- strange
36: Nov. 17, 1997 We got up, had breakfast, and then the Fathers left for Los Chiles. I did laundry and watched a couple of talk shows. After lunch, Fernando took us to the Masaya National Volcano Park. Volcano is quite spectacular and hot. The crater is very deep. Then we went to Catarina and saw a cater lake. It is very pretty and we also stopped at several shops. We arrived in Granada at 4:00. We went for ice cream- had ‘plum’ flavour- delicious. We checked into our hotel. We walked around and ate at the hotel. I had chicken fajitas but not tortillas- dried bread instead. A little boy came up to us and asked if he could have the food I had not eaten. So he took the plate around the corner, ate, thanked me and then returned the plate. Good way not to feel guilty about not cleaning your plate. The owner of the restaurant came out and scolded him for bothering the patrons. We came back to the room, watched a couple of movies- the room was actually cold. Andrea went swimming- small shallow pool. She said she has never swum before with bananas over her head and bats flying around. We saw lots of green budgies in the trees outside the hotel. Cool!
41: Nov. 19, 1997 For breakfast I had the fruit platter, still feeling pretty weak. Andrea bought groceries for the boat trip. We got off around 11:00. We had about an hour tour of the archipelago and then went to an island that is a hotel. We sat around and laid on a hammock and chatted with some people from Michigan who are Rotarians. We came back around 5:00. The day cost $85 American. We discussed with the Mr. Michigan what a rip-off the day was. However, Andrea celebrated with two margaritas followed by two strawberry margaritas in probably one hour. Did she get sick.yep!
42: Nov. 20, 1997 We had eggs, bread, and a banana milkshake (yummy). We then packed and got ready to go. We took the bus to Managua- two people for $1.00 American for 1. 5 hour ride. The bus was very good- it was packed, people standing in the aisles. We took a cab home and unpacked. The Brothers got home from their trip and so we talked about our adventures. Then Andrea and I decided to take one last trip to the market- looked a lot and bought a few things. It is all starting to look alike- and I think we have enough o start our own mini-market. At 7:30 Enricka took us to his mother’s house. We could see the change in the neighbourhood easily. She is middle-class he says. The neighbourhood looks more like home. There are lots of rocking chairs- seven in total. Mom is real nice, about 80 years old but appears much younger. He is planning a trip to the USA next year. After the visit we went to a special coffee place. We could easily be in Calgary! It was beautiful with real cappuccino. Very nice! Finally phoned home. We visited with the Brothers and then hit the sack. We have to get up at 6:00.
44: Nov. 21, 1997 We were up at 6:00 and got ready for the ocean. We went to the same spot as before with Fernando. This time a guy named Donaldo came from India. Nice guy! Anyway, we swam and it was beautiful. They even have rocking chairs at the ocean. We went by fruit country- pineapple fields, cactus fruit, and mango trees. It is absolutely gorgeous countryside. We were home by 1:30 as Miguel has a meeting out of town. We decided to go back to the market for the last time. We bought a few more things. The cab driver didn’t want to co-operate. We wanted us to pay double. He got pretty mad, oh well, we won! We waited around for Fernando who was going to take us to Canadian House. Canadian House is a place that does projects to help out the people in Nicaragua. The person who runs it is from Calgary. Well, our 4:30 appointment turned out to be 7:30! Anyway, we wished we had found out about it a week ago. About ten of us went for pizza. It was pretty good. We came home and talked.
47: Nov. 22, 1997 We got up early but didn’t leave until around 9:30. Many people are coming along. We are off to Malagulpa0 a town of 40 000 in the mountains. The back of the truck is full of people. Everyone has pants and sweaters on because it is only around 20 C in this city. We are in shorts. The town is pretty and the church is nice. The only connection that we are with priests is that we always manage to find a church. Then we checked out the restaurants. I had the pollo especial- goodtwo pieces of chicken, coleslaw, and fries. Then we left and went to a place called: ‘Selva Negra’- black forest. Apparently, a long time ago some Germans came over and helped grow coffee and insisted they leave this forest natural. It is very beautiful. We went to a hotel that was ‘German’ it looked very authentic. We had a good ‘teasing’ time. It rained buckets! The drive home was uneventful except that it was real dark- and you have to avoid people, bikes, cows, you name it. We got home and cooked fresh shrimp and pasta. Almost Canadian food! We talked a bit and went to bed. This is the last night with the lizards!