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Greetings from Nicaragua!

Since my blogs will be running a few days behind schedule I will be covering the days in much the same manor.

A few days ago, I woke to the rooster outside my room which then got the parakeets and toucans singing and the monkeys chattering. I walked down to the latrine near the monkey cages. The night air still present, dampness is everywhere the monkeys bid me their typical morning greeting apparently they love blondes so I am a hit…A Kodak moment…

It is very humid so humid that you would think it is going to burst into a thunderstorm at any moment but not a drop falls from the sky. I slip into the shower an outdoor space with a solar power heated water head. It is cold nonetheless so you shower fast! As I shake the shivers washing up it starts to really hit me how wasteful most of us are. The shower here is as I said a solar operated one and the water is collected and reused to water the gardens, from what I understand, so it there is no waste…Brilliance.

I hustle back to my room and ready myself for breakfast. No matter I do with my hair it refuses to dry so I toss it up in a clip and off I go. It is actually quit freeing to not feel stuck in front of a mirror for hours fussing over my hair and makeup. Joining my friends for breakfast, I sit down to yet another fabulous meal of chopped fruits; papaya, pineapple, watermelon and bananas. We always have granola and fresh yogurt and an amazing cup of coffee. Nearly all the food are harvested from La Mariposa organic garden and coffee plantation. After breakfast it is time for class.

Dennis my grammar teacher is fantastic. Each morning before class he takes time to explain things that I have seen and will see. He explains it English and provides me with the language in Spanish. We then move into lessons incorporating those words into grammar structure.  Over the past few days my lessons have involved history and politics. It is almost election time here so it’s front and center in everyone’s minds these days. Dennis explained the parade I attended Tuesday and who I had seen. I learn in English and Spanish about Daniel Ortega and the passion of the people for and against him. Dennis tries to provide another view allowing me a wealth of information to better understand the Liberals, Sandanist’s and Conservatives. Politics are actually a very common conversation here and people are eager to talk about it…unlike in the USA where we are a bit cautious of when and where we discuss such matters. My grammar class allows me the opportunity to learn how to communicate and the language base in which to do it while also enlightening me. We also discussed a history class I would participate in during the week so I would have a good comprehension of the lecture as it is given in Spanish.

Chester my conversation teacher is another fantastic instructor as well and really puts me through my paces reviewing my grammar and sentence structure. He challenges me allllll the time! I leave our sessions exhausted but in a very good way. Chester also reinforces proper pronunciation and spelling. I am notorious for putting an “es” or “is” sound where it does not belong. I also met with Berhman Jr. a wonderful instructor who gave me my history lesson in English and then in Spanish in preparation for my lecture. He filled in a lot of gaps and answered many questions. What is so wonderful about these teachers is there is no judgment if you foul up in your speech and comprehension. I always feel very much at ease. They seem as curious to know proper pronunciation in English as I am in Spanish so the fear of saying it wrong is washed away.

I sat in on a lecture with Bergman Sr. about the history of Nicaragua from the Mayan, Inca, Aztec time to 1900. The story told and the passion with which it is told is fascinating. I feel often in America we become complacent and put our history out of our minds and here it is very much alive and respected. The talk actually conjured up memories of my time with As Green As It Gets in Guatemala.

Long about 10am it starts to get really hot and humid and you easily become exhausted…After the wonderful hot meal at noon you are ready for a nap. I took two afternoons to do just that. My cabin is fantastic but it does not have air conditioning or a fan making escaping the heat impossible. Luckily, I keep it closed up and it stays somewhat cooler making an afternoon siesta lovely. On another afternoon Chester and Manuel (the groundskeeper) took me on a bird watching walking. Manuel brought a book of birds to show me the specific names of each and it was wonderful. Everyone here is passionate about the wild life, being environmentally conscientious, and takes the time to share it with you, with a passion as if they are seeing it for the first time right along with you.

One evening, a group of us joined Paulette, Ishmael and Manuel for a trip to La Concha where we sample some of the local eats and cervezas. It was a local run bar and grill so to speak. We toured the kitchen where racks of raw meat were hanging about being readied for cooking. We saw where they were preparing pig skin, and other meat, along with boiled plantain of sorts (it tastes more like potatoes), and slaw. No part of the animal is wasted therefore I observed what seemed unusual meat preparations. -Sampling everything in my book is a must and sample I did. Believe it or not it was all delicious! The pig skin reminded me of pork rinds and I couldn’t stop nibbling once I started. Maia, one of my friends here, brought her cell phone for pictures and instantly became a hit among the children, who swarmed her wanting to pose and see the photos. It was an amazing opportunity for her to use her Spanish in every picture she shared with them.

Saturday a group of us woke up bright and early, 6:30am to be exacted and board our La Mariposa bus for a trip to Leon. Along the way we stopped at a restaurant for a delicious local breakfast. I had a tortilla with diced tomatoes and onion on top with a creamy cheese sauce and a fabulous cup of café con leche (coffee with milk). The trip is a long hot one with nine of us in the van (mind you the vehicles are not air conditioned). We arrive in Leon and it is breathtakingly beautiful. Bergman Sr. is our driver and tour guide for the day. He took us to the largest cathedral in all of Central America and was actually built by accident in Leon. It was intended for Peru. The views are simply spectacular from the rooftop where you can actually see 8 volcanoes. We toured the veterans of the Sandinista movement memorial. One of the men giving the tour was in one of the photographs at the end of the tour. We also took in an art museum an ancient indigenous cathedral ruins and a torture prison. I learned so much about the history of Nicaragua.  The murals, art work, poetry, museums all tell a powerful story about their rich history and their struggle to rise out from under the Somoza regime. We had a wonderful lunch in Leon where another opportunity to sample the local cuisine was made available and later a cup of coffee before heading back to La Concepcion. Leon is a lovely city alive and well, busy with lots of tourists and youth, a bit of the college town feeling. Brightly colored buildings and shops set up to please every interest. Then we headed back on the several hour long hot bus ride back to La Mariposa.  Sweaty and exhausted I had dinner, showered and headed to bed.

I opted out of a hike Sunday morning and instead washed all my laundry (by hand) it was quite a work out. The sky has an ominous look of a storm though again not a drop has fallen as I sit here on the porch sipping a beer getting ready to hit the books.

More exciting adventures are in store and the Jules: Journey to Nicaragua page is full of hundreds of amazing pictures! Hard to believe it’s been a week!!
As Told By Jules: Journeys in Central America and beyond


Michele P. said...

wonderful post Juli~! Sounds somewhat like my time in Guate with the relatives. Looking forward to reading your next post and hearing about your trip!

Juli said...

Thank you so much Michele. I am having a wonderful time here. Learning so much all at once. Full Spanish immersion...grammar, conversations, history, politics, cooking, touring, friends & volunteering...I <3 Nicaragua!

Anissa said...

Juli glad your are enjoying your learning tripto Nica I so wish I was withyuou :) soemday maybe I can