Friday, November 14, 2008

two more photos - the top one is of me, with the families mule, my little host sister Leslie Priscilla, my brother Graving, and my host father Denis

the next one is of a rice field in one of the rural communities with some of the kids from church standing on top of the bean mound - we hold a church service in one of the surrounding rural communities once a week

Thursday, November 13, 2008

First photo - my host mom and little sister
Second photo - one of my two brothers, Javier, and my sister
My new host family
So I have been meaning to update my blog for several weeks now, but life has gotten away from me and I am now in the final month of my time in Nicaragua and can hardly believe that six months have almost passed me by. Where the time has gone I do not know. It seems in many ways I arrived here yesterday and in other ways that I have been here for several years. The country has become a part of me and I feel at home here. Even speaking Spanish every day no longer bothers me and I can now eat beans and rice for all three meals without horrible stomach aches. In some ways eating other food seems a little strange.

About a month and a half ago I moved host families. I used to live in Jinotepe and I now live in La Conquista. It is a smaller town of about 3,000 people and is about thirty minutes drive away from Jinotepe. I moved in with a woman and her family who works with Luke’s Society. She is in charge of running the organization’s small pharmacy that sells discounted medicine in La Conquista. When I moved here her husband was a way working in the north and she was a little bit lonely and wanted some company. Also my directors felt it would be good to give me time to see and experience life in one of the poorer cities of the country. So I made the move.

My family now includes the father – Denis, the mother – Gladis, and four children – three boys and one girl. Wesley is 12, Javier is 10, Graving is 4, and Leslie Priscilla is 1 ½. We live in a small house constructed by the government. The house consists of a small main room and two other rooms that come off of that main room that have curtains covering the doorways. In reality the house is one large room, with particle board dividers that were put up to make walls. Out of the back door is the families underconstruction kitchen. The house belongs to one of Gladis’ brothers who is away working in Costa Rica. Bit by bit he is adding on to the house to make it larger and more luxurious. But as of right now he has made little progress. The back section has a hard dirt floor and concrete walls on three sides with openings for the windows and the door that have not yet been covered. In one corner are a pile of concrete blocks that will eventually be the bathroom.

There is also a hammock where the dad almost always lies after finishing work for the day. He lays there in the hammock and I sit on one of the several tree stumps that are going to be cut later into firewood, while Gladis stands in front of the woodburning fire making our dinner. The kids wander in and out of the room and sometimes all sit down on the other logs and we begin to tell stories to one another or to make shadow animals on the wall. While we wait for dinner or after we have eaten the kids and I usually play various games that involve much laughing, usually at me for the inability I have to use their toys. We also take turns drawing different pictures and showing them to one another. Sometimes Wesley, who is taking guitar lessons, will go and get the guitar and bring it into the kitchen where he then begins to play. Leslie, Javier, and I begin to dance as the parents sing and clap along to the music. Graving varies between dancing and sitting there watching us.

After playing for a while I will usually wash the dishes and hand wash some of my clothes before going to bed.

They are a delightful family and I feel honored to live with them.

My new host family

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Photos of Guatemala

1) a photo of a market fruit stand overflowing with tasty fruit in Guatemala.
2) me, pamela, and austin on top of one of the mayan ruins in tikal as we waited to see the sunrise in a morning washed out by rain
3) mayan temple
4) another mayan temple
5) a view of the forest and the mayan temples poking out as a rain storm comes in
we are currently on top of another mayan temple when i took this photo
6) pamela, me, david, and austin with a mayan temple in the background

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I decided to take a week off with some of my other friends who are here in Central America and to become once again actual tourists, instead of students who are simply living daily life in our prespective countries. So far we have just spent some nice time relaxing.

Today we went to Tikal. We decide to take the 3:15 am shuttle from the town of Flores, which is about an hour and a half from the actual park. We had heard and read that it is especially beautiful to be there for sunrise when the entire forest begins to wake up. But when the actual morning came, we were a little doubtful if it would be worth the lack of sleep we had.

When we got off the bus and began walking with our flashlights down the path to the heart of the monuments, it began to rain lightly. As we walked the rain increased. We kept going, not exactly sure where we were going or what was happening. Suddenly, we looked to our right and to our left and saw Mayan ruins protruding out of the fog. It was mysterious and mystical to be walking there in the middle of the night, under rain, and surrounded by mist to see these old ruins on either side of us. Everything was quiet except for the sound of the rain hitting the forest leaves or falling to the ground.

We came to a wooden staircase and were told to climb. We began climbing to the top of one of the monuments where we were going to wait for the sunrise. But this morning there would be no sunrise. We waited, while the rain increased until we finally decided to climb back down and look for shelter. A group of about 45 people were waiting under the shelter along with the guides for the rains to clear. We waited there about 15 minutes and then broke off into smaller groups to explore the park.

I cannot explain how amazing it was to be standing in the park so early in the morning, when all was still quiet, as the rain came and abaited and then came again. It was incredible. My four friends and I climbed several of the ruins to the top to see the spectacular views of the forest and the other monuments. They stand completely in the middle of the jungle as if they belong to the jungle and you as a visitor have somehow entered some private, sacred place.

I will put up pictures of Tikal shortly, but for now I will leave you with one of my favorite stories of the day. My friends and I stayed longer in the park than the rest of our tour group so that we would have a chance to go and explore the other monuments. We came to another group of monuments and it began to rain again. We decided to duck under part of the doorway of one of the temples to wait out the rain. One of the Guatemalan workers also ducked under with us. We then began to talk with him and learn that he has worked in the park for 20 years and that he himself is mostly Mayan. He looked at one of my friends and asked him if he was going to marry and before my friend could answer he said, ah it is there in your eyes. Then he looked at me and said you do not want to know. We all began to laugh. He went on to tell us that he is not a shaman, mayan religious leader, but that he is a spiritual man who serves God and speaks and listens to the spirits. AFter the rains stopped we thanked him for his conversation and left. He took the hand of one of my other friends and said Cuidate mucho or be very careful with complete sincerity in his eyes. The whole encounter with the man who really is a shaman, even though he said he was not, only increased the mystery of the day and the feeling that we were experiencing part of another culture that is still very much alive. It was also slightly humurous for us to hear his warnings and we kept joking about them for the rest of the day.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A piece of art

The land is tired.
The land is dry.
The rains failed,
You tell me.

You say,
We planted and worked the land,
But we had no harvest.
The rains ruined the harvest,
You say.

The same rains that you need 
For your crops to grow
Ruined your livelihood 
And stole your hope.

It is expensive,
  You tell me.
It is more expensive this year.

My money does not buy much,
you say.
All the prices keep rising.

We hate Mondays,
You say,
For that is when prices rise.
That is when we learn what we can no longer buy.

The prices keep rising,
You say.
Our salaries do not.

The prices keep rising,
you say
And our harvest keep failing.

There is no money for that,
You tell your children.
It is too expensive.
But your child does not seem to understand.

My husband left,
  You tell me.
He will return in three months.

Where did he go,
I ask.
To look for work.
There is no work in Nicaragua.

He went to Costa Rica.
Mine went to Panama.
Mine went to the States,
You tell me.

When will they return?
We do not know exactly,
You say.

My daughter left,
My son stopped school,
My mother does not live with us.

Where are they?
I ask.
They went to find work.
They went to find work that does not exist here.

But this should not be,
I say.
But it is what we must do.
We must do this to survive.
It is our only choice.

If we stay together
We cannot survive.

If we stay together
My children cannot go to school
My children cannot eat
We will be hungry.

Their money, although little,
Is what we need to survive
You tell me.
We have no other choice.

But this should not be,
I think.
Where are those who fight to change the situation?
I ask.

They are here,
But they do nothing.
They do not help their people.
THey have no desire to help us.
Their eyes are fixed on their pockets,
you tell me.

They get richer
As we suffer.

They get richer 
As their country is destroyed.